Part 2: The digitization of customer service

From text messages to in-app messaging, businesses are adopting a variety of new channels in order to bolster and expand their customer service efforts. But as businesses make this evolution, they can’t forget a channel that continues to remain critically important: the contact center. So what are the implications of a massive shift to digital channels for the contact center? How can the contact center adjust for success in this new world?
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Businesses must consider how digitization will impact the call center.

In my last post, I introduced the idea of “digitization” and discussed how it is affecting companies’ customer service strategy. Now I want to explore one specific part of the business that is directly impacted by the rise of digital channels: the contact center. The shift to digital is and will continue to impact contact centers in a variety of ways, some of which will require significant transformation of how contact centers provide customer service including operational changes, changes to metrics, and how the customer journey to receive service is handled, among other issues.

Here are three key considerations businesses must keep in mind in order to maintain a successful contact center in the age of digitization.

Increased need to drive satisfaction holistically across the entire digital customer journey

As the number of digital touchpoints increases, the ability of a contact center to effectively address customer interactions will need to be even more closely managed to assure high satisfaction and resolution on whatever channel the customer chooses. The reason for this is best explained via a McKinsey & Company concept called the ‘Customer Journey Experience’. Essentially, contact centers today generally focus on measuring and supporting customer interactions in a siloed manner. The issue is that from the customer perspective, customers don’t look at these stops on their journey as silos. Customers view them as interconnected, and as their journey occurs, the aggregate interactions of all the interactions at a touchpoint form the basis for the overall experience the customer has with the company. So the customer satisfaction with the overall journey experience is an important metric to focus on. You can see in the following chart that taken individually, satisfaction seems somewhat reasonable for each digital channel from a standalone perspective.

However, when viewed holistically across the entire journey, overall satisfaction is only 61% (statistical calculation of the overall satisfaction value of the web channel and the IVR channel and the live agent channel is multiplicative).

digitization-part2

As the number and usage of digital channels increases, and the possible channel permutation complexity increases, contact centers will need to have the infrastructure not only to manage these channels, but will need to do it well on every channel to provide a high overall end-to-end satisfaction level across the entire customer digital journey, regardless of the consumers’ choice (or order) of channels for their digital journey.

New opportunities for fraud

Fraud in the contact center is not a new concept. Fraudsters often use the voice channel to attempt account takeovers via social engineering. Why would they not then exploit the explosion of digital channels to commit fraud as well? Of course the answer is that they will, and they are. Phishing, social engineering, hacking/cracking, and man-in-the-middle attacks are some potential fraudster activities that may occur via digital channels. Contact centers will need to continue to adjust and augment their security strategies to deal with the fraud potential over these rapidly emerging digital channels.

Massive amounts of data will drive new needs and opportunities

As the number of digital channels rise, the amount of data that is available and generated will also grow. This growth may drive an increased need for omni-channel analytics. Single channel analytics (again, relatively siloed today) will not be enough to manage success versus metrics across a contact center that is handling many digital channels. In fact, the metrics themselves may need to expand. ‘Tweets to Resolution’ and ‘Digital Channel Containment Rate’ are illustrative as examples of new metrics the may need to be created and adopted. And with digital data readily available to be mined, the ability to provide customer service in an increasingly personalized manner will become possible. It is possible that consumers may come to expect increased personalization as a minimum characteristic of the service quality bar they desire. All of this may require increased investment by contact centers in analytics technologies and different skill sets in some employees.

Digitization is occurring in businesses all over the world, and companies must adapt or risk being left behind. To address this shift, contact centers need to understand the customer journey holistically, be prepared for an increase in fraud, and adopt omni-channel analytics to effectively manage the onslaught of new data. In addition, companies need to understand their company’s readiness to adopt new technologies and take changes with innovation. My next post will discuss how organizations can test their ability to adapt and the tolerance to innovate.

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James Mastan

About James Mastan

James Mastan is Director of Solutions Marketing in the Nuance Enterprise division, and has over twenty years of high-tech marketing experience. Previously, James held various marketing leadership positions at Microsoft and more recently founded and ran a marketing consulting company and a mobile application start-up company.