Digital transformation has been sweeping contact centres over the past few years, and is showing no signs of slowing as we move into the new decade.
As digital channels continue to shape the ways we live, work, shop and communicate, the expectation for businesses to integrate digital channels with their customer journeys is higher than ever before.
To get your business in line, you need to have a secure digital transformation framework in place. To help you form your framework, we’ve put together a five step framework to follow to deliver contact centre 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 business processes to use technology. Ultimately, digital transformation is a complete change in how a business engages with customers, meaning a change in the attitude and very culture of a business.
For contact centres, digital transformation means two things. First, it is the process of moving away from telephony and introducing digital 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 that tracks customer journeys, 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.
As this second stage shows, contact centre digital transformation is more than just going digital; it’s about allowing new digital technologies to shape how the contact centre works.
As contact centre digital transformation involves a fundamental change in how a contact centre functions, it is not necessarily 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 to take to deliver contact centre transformation in our detailed digital transformation framework.
The most important thing to remember is that digital transformation of a contact centre doesn’t happen in isolation - it is one part of the digital 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 is very easy for contact centres to fill the role of ‘fail safe’, i.e. technology allows customers to self-serve through a website, but, when a problem is encountered and the customer cannot resolve it through the self-serve processes in place, they get in touch with an agent in the contact centre. 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 this last resort problem fixer. Digital channels can allow contact centres to play an active part in the customer journey. 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: last resort problem solver or an active part of the customer journey.
The concept of contact centre digital transformation involves using 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 digital channels on offer, but companies need to be aware that different customers want different channels.
Different generations, for example, prefer different contact channels. Baby boomers prefer phone conversations, millennials prefer text-based channels like live web chat and WhatsApp, and the youngest consumer generation, Gen Z, prefer image and video based communication through video 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 as customers switch across channels. For businesses that serve one generation in particular, all of these digital channels might not be necessary.
Choosing which digital channels will best suit your business and audience is an important step in any digital transformation framework; there is 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. s. 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 just be about offering customers more and more swanky new digital channels and solutions so they don’t need to interact with human powered customer support. 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:
1. 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 with your existing systems, this can cause backlogs which can negatively affect your contact centre performance and create a poor customer experience.
2. 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 decision about what new channel to integrate. 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 or need to speak easily with an agent 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.
3. 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 is important to remember that people are at the heart of your business. Real, meaningful conversations and personal connections are key to building long term customers, so it is vital to ensure that any new digital systems put in place are there to help facilitate these relationships, not replace them.
After choosing your new digital channels, you need to ensure your contact centre agents know how to use them correctly, which is 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 in order to get the best out of each channel.
This doesn’t mean all agents need to be trained on everything as it is 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 these agents to use it.
You will need to plan how many agents 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 agents 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 customer journey tracking tech is gathering lots of new data, but if your agents don’t know how to interpret and use that data to aid interactions, the data is 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.
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, i.e. they start a conversation on live chat and can move to a phone conversation without needing to start the interaction from scratch.
As a result of 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, including between on and offline channels.
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 that all channels and touchpoints offer the same information and quality of service to customers. 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.
An omnichannel approach also makes it easier to collect data and take advantage of that data, as it gathers it all one place, which leads us into our final step in delivering contact centre data transformation.
The final step in our digital transformation framework is to make use of the data all the new technology and channels is gathering for you. 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 tracking 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!
To finish, let’s quickly summarise the steps of our contact centre digital transformation framework:
We hope you find our digital transformation framework useful! If you are looking to introduce new digital channels into your contact centre, book a demo with Talkative to see our solutions, including live chat, video chat and web calling, in action.
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