Digital transformation has been sweeping contact centres over the past few years, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.
As digital channels continue to shape the ways we live, work, shop, and communicate, the expectation for businesses to integrate them into the customer journey is higher than ever before.
In order to stay ahead of the curve and meet the demands of the modern consumer, you need to have a secure digital transformation framework in place.
In fact, 70% of businesses already either have a digital transformation strategy in place, or are working on one.
That's why we’ve put together an essential framework to help you successfully deliver contact centre digital transformation. We'll cover:
- What is digital transformation?
- A five-step framework for contact center transformation
- The next step to successful digital transformation
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technology into all areas of a business in order to meet changing business demands.
It sounds incredibly simple, but it is more than just changing individual processes to use technology.
Ultimately, digital transformation is a complete transformation in how a business engages with customers.
This equates to a change in the attitude and very culture of a business.
Contact centre digital transformation
For contact centres, digital transformation means two things.
First, it's the process of moving away from telephony and introducing a range of contact channels, such as live chat and video chat, to communicate and interact with customers.
Secondly, it involves using new technology to gather data and inform the way the contact centre functions.
Technology like customer journey mapping, for example, is used to gauge customer drop-out points on websites.
With these points identified, proactive customer interactions are promoted to help guide customers to the next step of the customer journey.
Contact centre digital transformation is more than just going digital - it’s about allowing new technologies to shape how the contact centre works.
Digital transformation framework for contact centres
As contact centre digital transformation involves a fundamental change in operations, it's not a quick process.
It will take time to introduce channels and gather data to inform actions.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the steps required for successful contact centre transformation.
1) Decide the role of your contact centre
The most important thing to remember is that digital transformation of a contact centre doesn’t happen in isolation - it's one part of the transformation of an entire business.
As part of the full process of digital transformation, one of the main things to decide is what role you want your contact centre to play in your newly transformed business.
Namely, do you want the contact centre to be the last resort for customers, or do you want it to play a more active role in the customer journey?
It's very easy for contact centres to fill the role of ‘fail safe’.
With this approach, technology allows customers to self-serve through a website.
They only reach out to the contact center in instances where a problem is encountered and the customer cannot resolve it themselves.
As a report by Deloitte states, contact centres are often used for ‘resolving issues for which there is no online process’.
However, a contact centre can be much more than a last resort for customers.
Digital channels can allow contact centres to play an active part in the digital customer experience.
For example, if a customer is inactive on a webpage for a certain time, the contact centre can start a live chat exchange, asking the customer if they need any assistance.
These are two very distinct roles for a contact centre which is why the first step of your digital transformation framework needs to be deciding what role you want your contact centre to play.
Do you want your contact center to be a last resort problem-solver or an active part of the customer journey?
2) Choose your contact channels wisely
Contact centre digital transformation involves investing in new technology and new digital channels to service customers.
Digital channels such as live chat, web calling and video chat, are some of the most effective new channels on offer, but businesses need to be aware that different customers want different channels.
Different generations, for example, prefer different contact channels.
Baby boomers prefer phone conversations whereas millennials prefer text-based channels like live web chat and WhatsApp.
The youngest consumer generation, Gen Z, favor image and video-based communication through video calls and social media.
For businesses with an audience across multiple generations, it’s absolutely vital to implement a variety of different communication channels, joined together by a centralised system which enables a seamless customer experience.
For businesses that serve one generation in particular, all of these channels might not be necessary.
Choosing which technologies will best suit your business and audience is an important step in any digital transformation framework - there's no point introducing channels that will not benefit you or your customers.
Another important aspect to consider when choosing your channels is the idea of human support vs automated support.
Although customers do want more automation and self serve options, a global PWC study has indicated that as technology increases, customers want and expect more human interaction, rather than less.
This means that your digital transformation framework shouldn’t be about replacing humans with technology.
Rather, digital channels need to support human interactions.
With that in mind, deciding which solutions and channels will ultimately work best for your company takes a bit of weighing up.
Consider the following when building this part of your digital transformation framework:
How does the new channel integrate with my existing systems?
Consider how the new channel will sit alongside your existing systems.
If it doesn’t integrate well, this can cause backlogs which can negatively affect your contact centre performance and result in poor customer service.
What value does the channel add for the customer?
The primary function of customer services departments is to help improve the customer experience and journey, so this needs to be at the heart of your decisions.
It can be easy to get carried away with cutting edge AI or an impressive self-serve system, but if the majority of your audience still want/need to speak with an advisor then this isn’t the best fit for your company.
Consider what value the channel will bring to the customer first before deciding to go ahead.
Is the channel facilitating real human connection, or trying to replace it?
AI and tech are incredibly useful, but only if they are being used as part of a strategy which also includes human support.
Take live chat and chatbots as an example.
If you want to introduce a chatbot into your contact centre, it should not replace a human-powered live chat but support it.
Chatbots can deal with easy questions and FAQs, then they field complex questions to suitable agents.
This relieves the demand on agents and frees them up to deal with issues that actually require human interaction.
There will always be the need for human support, and it can be detrimental to your contact centre success or even damage your company’s reputation if this isn’t properly addressed.
Digital transformation is an inevitable reality for any forward-thinking company, but it's important to remember that people are at the heart of your business.
Real, meaningful customer conversations and personal connections are key to building long term customers - so it's vital that any new digital systems help facilitate these relationships, not replace them.
3) Train your agents
After choosing your new digital channels, you need to ensure your contact centre agents know how to use them correctly.
That's why the third step of your digital transformation framework needs to be training.
Every channel has its own best practices. The language and style needed for web chat, for example, is not the same as email or talking on the phone.
As a result, agents need to have specific training for every new channel that you introduce.
This doesn’t mean all agents need to be trained on everything as it's likely not all agents will work on every channel.
For example, you might just have a handful of agents that can take video chat enquiries, meaning you just need to train one team to use it.
You will need to plan how many teams you want working on, or at least capable of using, each new digital channel you introduce.
To do this, you should calculate how many interactions you think you will receive per channel per day, and assign staff accordingly.
If interactions on a certain channel increase, you will need to train more agents to deal with it.
It goes without saying that training also needs to be provided for any new technology too.
As part of contact centre digital transformation, you may introduce new systems, such as a new CRM or customer journey tracking and reporting technology.
It’s all well and good that your new tech is gathering lots of new data, but if your agents don’t know how to interpret and use that data, then it's being wasted.
Put simply, make sure everyone who needs to use the new technology and contact channels you introduce knows how to use them.
Agents, supervisors and managers need to be trained to use these properly in order to reap the rewards sought by digital transformation.
4) Link up new channels
Omnichannel is the future of businesses.
The idea of omnichannel is that all customer contact channels you offer are synced up so that customers can switch from one to the other seamlessly.
As a result, they could start a conversation on live chat and then move to a phone conversation without needing to start the interaction from scratch.
Due to the importance of offering an omnichannel customer experience, any contact centre digital transformation framework needs to include syncing up all new digital channels with other new and existing channels.
The key is to make sure your customers can jump effortlessly between these channels whenever they want to.
A danger of offering multiple contact channels and self-serve options as part of digital transformation is that messages can get mixed.
The information and quality of service a customer receives through live chat, for example, might be different to the information found on a website’s FAQs page.
This can lead to confusion for customers and agents, offering a disjointed and poor customer experience.
The contact centre is the principal source of information and therefore needs to take the lead in ensuring you provide a consistent experience at every digital touchpoint.
This calls for unity between different departments and teams.
As well as ensuring the technology is synced up, you need to make sure all of your contact centre teams are working to the same level and have access to the same information.
5) Use data to inform proactive action
The final step in our digital transformation framework is to make use of the data that the new technology and channels is gathering.
After all, the point of digital transformation is to provide a better service and meet the new demands of customers.
In 2005, a study found that while 80% of companies thought they delivered excellent customer service, only 8% of customers agreed.
This is a huge gap, and one that data insights can help fill.
For example, customer journey mapping technology can show you where on your website you lose a lot of customers.
Perhaps this is your ‘confirm basket’ page, suggesting that a lot of customers find it hard to navigate this page, or get ‘cold-feet’ at this part of the process.
This can tell you two things: 1) your page is not optimised for users, and/or 2) stages leading up to the ‘check-out’ are not persuasive enough to make customers commit to the purchase.
With this information you can act, i.e. improve the UX of your ‘confirm basket page’ and strengthen earlier stages in your marketing funnel to better convince customers.
Another good practice of digital transformation is to use the data from your contact centre to offer pre-emptive customer service.
For instance, imagine you’re an online shoe retailer.
Data has shown you that a lot of customers reach out to your contact centre when they are on product pages, asking if the shoes come in different colours.
Rather than waiting for customers to ask this, you could automate a chat interaction to pop up and let the customer know this information before they even know they wanted it.
Not only does this pre-empt the needs of the customer, but it also encourages them to interact with your contact centre to ask any further questions they might have.
Data can help your business be more proactive in meeting the needs of customers, so make sure you use it.
The framework detailed in this article provides a solid foundation for you to build upon and take your contact center into the digital era.
But it’s not the end of the story - each business and contact center is unique, so the strategy you adopt must be tailored to your specific goals and industry.
You also need to invest in the right technology.
After all, how can you expect to undertake a successful digital transformation if you don’t have the best digital platform to facilitate it?
Talkative’s Consultative Service Platform provides a complete suite of interconnected contact channels that'll empower your brand to connect instantly, and effortlessly, with all your digital customers.
As a result, your customer-facing teams will be fully equipped to support, engage, and convert more customers than ever before..
That's why the Talkative solution is the key to driving successful digital transformation.
Want to learn more? Book a demo with us today and find out for yourself.