People 'n' Issues

Call centres must go digital

December 9th, 2015
Customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation for the digital consumer, and the only way for contact centres to rise to this challenge is through transformation, says DEON SCHEEPERS.

The digital revolution cannot be ignored: digital technology is impacting everything, including the contact centre.

Global research shows that digital is impacting every facet of life and work. The next generation of digital consumer – Gen D – is emerging fast, with new demands and expectations of what organisations can deliver and how they will engage with consumers. Digital encompasses more than just mobile, social media, big data and cloud. IDC says although digital is all these things, we also need to be aware of new technologies that are starting to emerge: the next generation of security, IoT, augmentation, artificial intelligence, robotics and more.

Research indicates that by the end of 2017, two thirds of CEOs at Global 2000 enterprises will have digital transformation strategies in place, and the key focus in this transformation will be cloud.

Cloud computing is growing exponentially: at Interactive Intelligence alone, it makes up 60% of our revenue and it is growing fast. Gartner research shows a key reason for this is that it gives organisations agility and flexibility as well as cost savings: cloud will give access to the latest and greatest digital tools without costing millions.

However, contact centres have been slow to move to digital transformation. In fact, the Dimension Data 2015 Contact Centre Benchmark Report shows we are going backwards when we talk about customer service. The report says digital interaction will overtake traditional voice interaction by the end of 2016. Social media is the first choice for interaction in millennials but 57% of contact centres have no social media capabilities. The game is changing. The contact centre of the future must become the action hub of engagement, but 40% of contact centres have no analytics capability.

It raises the question: How will you engage with the customer if you don’t know who they are? All these new channels are being thrown at you and you need to be able to use them to communicate. The single view of the customer is still key, but only 20% of organisations achieve a 360-degree view of the customer, because it is becoming more complex.

In the social media space, a lack of digital strategy is causing a divide to grow between customers and organisations. Customers are using their digital toys, but the organisations don’t understand these new channels half the time; or they don’t have budgets to enable effective omni-channel engagement.  When there’s a disconnect between customers and your organisation, what happens to customer experience?

Customers are changing – they have a lot more of the power, they expect access to information, they want control. They expect digital self-service, social media and mobile engagement.  Consumers expect to interface on any channel and hop between channels. Organisations must transform to meet these expectations. While most companies say customer experience is important to them, few actually get it right and most are not ready to meet the expectations of Gen D.

It’s time for the contact centre industry to focus on digital transformation that enhances operations and the customer experience. In line with this, it is crucial to understand the customer, making sure all the right the touchpoints are in place and all processes are effectively automated. Organisations must design the customer experience from the outside in, understanding the customer journey and rearchitect their systems and operations accordingly.

* By Deon Scheepers, Manager, Sales Operations at Interactive Intelligence South Africa

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