Reporting In: Brian Cantor and the CCWD Team Share Practical Insights on the State of Contact Center Technology
By Jeff Tropeano
In their broad ranging and comprehensive new study, Customer Contact Week Digital’s “State of Contact Center Technology” this year builds on practical realities, focusing in on real world problems in contact centers that can be addressed with new technologies. It also confronts head on the often experiences companies have had when investments in previous technologies simply did not return the value promised.
Positive business outcomes are the true test of new systems, including those which promise to automate, analyze and affirm the experiences customers are demanding in a world where “instant gratification” has become a way of life.
Brian and his research team did their homework, surveying CEOs, CXOs, Directors, VPs, SVPs, Relationship Managers, IT Managers, COOs, Trainers and more across contact center service providers (including BPOs) as well as within enterprises where the digital transformation of everything continues to have a deep impact on CX as a competitive advantage (or threat).
“As contact centers explore new technology, they are mindful of their top objectives for the next few years: reducing customer effort, achieving consistency across all touch points, proactively resolving customer needs, collecting great customer insights, and increasing self-service usage,” Brian begins, then highlights findings including the ongoing role and influence of the IT department on investments in contact center and CX technology. But participation from the C-Suite, operations team and emerging “CX” functions is growing, with three-quarters of companies polled saying the C-Suite is actively engaged.
“The top contact center improvement areas include using AI for analytics, customer engagement and/or process automation and mapping (let alone orchestrating) customer journeys,” Brian wrote, and “factors inhibiting success include the lack of a 360-degree view, bottlenecks from legacy systems, misalignment between different channels, misalignment between enterprise systems, and inadequate analytics.”
This is 100% aligned with what the Eventus team is seeing every day and has been a driver in our investment in and development of our IntelligenceHub™ platform which solves many problems associated with the variety of platforms, data sources, clouds, applications and the complexity that comes with getting systems to talk with each other to create a clean, unified and practical – actionable – picture. (Last month, we introduced our mega release 3.0 of IntelligenceHub and are continuing to add features as we work with our clients and partners to address everything from data deluge and integrity to the UX enabling managers to benefit from a unified view).
According to CCW Digital, “the #1 objective is reducing customer effort. Companies recognize the frustration of conventional customer experiences, and they are wholeheartedly committed to eliminating this pain moving forward. They, above all, want to make it easy for customers to connect.”
This sounds so basic, but this is so true. Whether one calls this customer empowerment, multichannel, omnichannel or channel-less, where we are succeeding on behalf of our customers is that every experience, regardless of any entry point, has to be great – and has to be captured and leveraged to improve the same customer’s next experience after that.
Consistency matters, brand voice matters, the offering matters, and intent matters, and according to Brian, “By revealing what customers want and what they experience in pursuit of that ‘intent,’ they help companies reduce effort, increase personalization, anticipate needs, and proactively resolve problems.”
The report’s list of objectives for 2025, looking forward, includes, in this order:
- Always honoring customers’ channel preferences
- Consistency across channels & touch points
- Reducing waiting / transfers
- Reducing handle time / talk time
- Reducing call/contact volume
- Increasing self-service use
- Reducing customer effort
- Increasing personalization
- Reducing agent effort
- Increasing agent satisfaction
- Increasing agent retention
- Predicting customer behavior
- Proactively resolving customer needs
- Generating revenue from renewals/upsells/cross-sells
- Increasing brand reputation
- Increasing first contact resolution
The report also speaks truth to trends, finding that “only 5% of organizations believe they are very successfully using AI for customer interactions, which means the overwhelming majority are not making the most of solutions like chatbots, smart IVRs, and intelligent routing platforms. They are squandering an incredible opportunity to create more convenient experiences, reduce customer and agent effort, and boost the value of interactions.”
Only 8% of companies believe they are very successful at using AI to improve operational performance, and automation generally has not panned out as quickly as the “trendsetters” wish for people to believe.
That said, clearly the use of automation, AI, machine learning and other software innovations will inevitably change the CX world in new ways, once it is harnessed to practically help improve customer journeys. We are investing ahead of the hype in modern ways to orchestrate journeys to reduce effort across the board (customers, agents, managers) while developing a 360-view across all channels and “customer choices.”
This report is so deep one cannot skim it and take away the level of detail and insight provided in fifty-five fascinating pages. It’s worth spending time reading if you’re as obsessed with our growing and changing industry as the team at Eventus is. We appreciate this work and look forward to learning more at the CCW event later this month in Miami. Contact me if you’ll be there and wish to meet up. firstname.lastname@example.org
The news is filled with stories about contact centers forced to respond to Work From Home (WFH) models given the COVID-19 global pandemic, which leaves no region untouched – including North America, Europe, Asia, Central America, South America and other regions known for their on and off-shore contact center successes.
Operating contact centers and developing CX innovations has never been easy. I’ve been in this industry for three decades , have been CEO of three CX related businesses, founded, built and sold a virtual contact center business, have run large portions of two of the world’s largest and most successful contact center BPOs in the world (TTEC and Sitel), and today am leading the Strategy and Consulting group at Eventus.