Recently, for the first time ever, the Call & Contact Centre Expo launched virtually, and as always Onecom was on-hand to present the latest in transformative customer experience technology. We co-presented a seminar with partner Mitel, gave away prizes and answered questions from visitors at our virtual booth.
Onecom’s Enterprise Managing Director, Nick Beardsley, took to the virtual stage with Mitel’s Contact Centre Sales Manager, Shameem Smillie to discuss strategies for building an agile CX strategy ready to meet the changing needs of the customer, while remaining resilient in uncertain times. Using Onecom customers Laithwaite’s Wine and British Red Cross as examples, the duo explained how developing technologies in AI contact centre solutions can have an immense impact on customer service quality.
Here are our key takeaways from Nick and Shameem’s talk on building an agile CX and AI strategy:
Lockdown has shown a need for Agility
With nearly 50% of the world’s population heading into lockdown in March 2020, it’s no wonder that the effects of the pandemic have been a key focus at this year’s Expo. In his seminar, Nick explained how many organisations have been forced to digitally transform the way they communicate and collaborate in a direct reaction to COVID-19 lockdown. For some, this meant the implementation of temporary remote working measures that allowed them to dampen the economic impact of the first wave by continuing to keep businesses operational. These organisations are now looking to evolve further to help increase agility and robustness, ready for future unforeseen circumstances.
On the other side of the spectrum, some organisations took the opportunity to engage in deeper digital transformation, developing an infrastructure that allows employees to work from home seamlessly. An example of this is Onecom customer British Red Cross, who quickly deployed a contact centre environment earlier this year that enabled seamless home-working for their volunteers throughout lockdown.
Changing customer engagement is driving change
One of the major themes at this year’s Call & Contact Centre Expo was the changing methods customers are choosing to engage with organisations. We have seen a gradual change in customer engagement trends for years, and the past 8 months has accelerated that immensely. 74% of customers now prefer using a chatbot for simple enquiries, a far cry from past years, when many customers would have preferred to talk to an experience agent for almost any enquiry.
A common topic of discussion at this year’s expo was the best way to meet these behavioural and cultural changes. Nick and Shameem brought up the example of Laithwaite’s Wine, whose recent work with Onecom and Mitel has allowed them to seamlessly interact with customers on their channel of choice, without technological inefficiencies, while working from home. As a result, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Laithwaite’s successfully increased their NPS score from 50 to 70 + through the flexibility garnered with their omnichannel, cloud-based contact centre. The BBC even recognised Laithwaite’s as a top-performing business throughout lockdown in their recent article.
It’s up to organisations to ensure that they are able to engage seamlessly with every medium, allowing the customer to interact on their channel of choice, whether it’s for enquiries, support, or purchases. Having a single view of the customer journey is also crucial, allowing the agent to see previous interaction history with the customer on every channel and being able to advise with this in mind.
AI is transforming workforce optimisation
Another hot subject of discussion was the continuing emergence of AI in the customer service environment. While AI solutions have been available for years, the capabilities and possibilities of AI contact centre solutions are becoming more potent. In her talk, Shameem discussed the ways that AI can have a positive impact on customer service operations:
- AI can assist Agents by providing real time support that helps reduce first contact resolution, enhance the quality of customer interaction, and shorten training cycles.
- It allows customers access to intelligent self-service options that can be accessed 24/7 and can help with a broad range of queries, without the requirement for agent intervention.
- Provides analytics by giving businesses rich insight into topics that are being discussed, allowing the organisation to make data-driven decisions that improve the customer experience.
Shameem explained that while AI and bots have their place, they will never truly replace customer experience agents, whose experience and empathy are highly valued by customers. By letting self-service AI assist with simple questions, agents can focus on more complex enquiries that require a human touch.
The Time to Act is Now
This year’s virtual Expo has been an insightful update into the world of the customer experience, offering crucial insight into how the landscape is developing, after spending the first half of the year learning how to adapt. As we get closer to 2021, the expectations of consumers will continue to rise, working to the detriment of any organisation choosing to keep their traditional contact strategies.
By implementing AI-driven omnichannel technologies, businesses have an opportunity to meet the rising expectation of service quality from customers, while improving the service experience for agents. With the right technology and expertise, meaningful customer experience transformation is possible for every forward-thinking, digitally-minded organisation.