The Context for Contact Centers has Shifted for Good: After the Pandemic, New Insights and Strategies for 2021
Originally published on CustomerZone 360
2020 was unlike any other in the customer service and contact center industry. Overnight, organizations were forced to rethink and re-tool how they interacted with customers in the middle of a highly uncertain, chaotic, and traumatic time.
Lessons were learned and are now being applied as we come out of this very dark time, and into a world where we can deliver everything from teaching to healthcare digitally, and where work can be done from home in ways that improve workers’ lives for good. As the world becomes more digital by the day, it becomes more and more important for companies to keep up with the newest innovations, for the sake of their customers and the betterment of their business.
Companies that didn’t shift their business priorities amidst the pandemic are now struggling to catch up to the new landscape. Many facets of a business’ usual daily activities were rendered unimportant due to the pandemic, as companies quickly shifted their priorities, focusing on new innovations and new operations enabling the change to digital.
We caught up with Rob Rutledge, Managing Director at Eventus Group, a CX strategy, technology and contact center managed services company based in Denver, to get a better idea of some of the changes they are recommended clients to make moving forward, given new business priorities.
“2020 has been a challenging year for many reasons and has accelerated contact center transformations to support migration to the cloud, to support work-from-home regulations, while also putting an enormous amount of stress on contact centers, especially those in healthcare, health insurance, unemployment insurance and more,” Rutledge said when asked about the biggest change he saw during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Depending on the industry, we’re seeing dramatic changes in contact volume, and therefore the planning and scheduling of agents is critical to support that volume increase or decrease.”
Even with the shift to a greater emphasis on contact centers amidst the pandemic, Rutledge explained that many businesses are still quite reluctant to make the shift.
“Many organizations still view contact centers as cost centers, while more advanced competitors are investing in transforming traditional platforms into data-rich, intelligent, interactive, and active customer sentiment oracles,” said Rutledge. “Top brands recognize this insight as a chance to differentiate themselves from the competition with personalized, proactive, and productive Customer Experience (CX) but know it is impossible to get there without advanced analytics and automation – and it all starts with good data.”
While data has always been an essential part of a company’s business priorities, a report found that only 37 percent of companies felt like they were using advanced analytics to create value by moving beyond earlier data and analytics solutions amidst the pandemic. These companies found that advanced analytics help them generate actionable insights about what will happen next, through both internal and customer-facing applications. The result is reduced costs, increased revenue, and—most important—higher customer satisfaction scores.
“Analytics tools mine the substantial data generated by customer conversations and interactions to identify meaningful patterns and trends,” explained Rutledge when asked about the importance of data for businesses moving forward. “With expert business intelligence applications, the data is converted into reports revealing insights often hidden in contact centers which can be used to continually improve service, while also providing priceless information to the product teams within the organizations.”
Rutledge cautioned that companies must make sure they have the necessary tools to make sure the data is connected and used in a way that increases efficiency or improve businesses operations in some way.
“Businesses are trying to become more data-driven in their decision-making but are often hamstrung because data resides in silos and they don’t have the right tools to connect it all together,” said Rutledge. “Data volumes are only going to increase, and solutions like Eventus’ IntelligenceHub platform are approaching the problem from the bottom-up to provide the holistic view that decision-makers need. This capability is especially important in the contact center, where a full understanding of the customer experience can only come from data across the organization, and to date, this has been very difficult to do.”
“We serve very large, Fortune 500 enterprises, whether we are providing strategic consulting for transformation, or are providing managed services when they outsource their contact centers to us,” Rutledge said. “We developed IntelligenceHub in-house to address our own challenges for clients who use multiple software platforms – one for CRM, one for voice transcription, one for compliance, and so on. It wasn’t easy in the beginning to figure out how to consolidate, cleanse, and present information from multiple sources, but we developed an expertise that led to continuous innovation.”
Nearly every enterprise and government agency has a dramatic story about shifting their contact center workforce to a work-from-home (WFH) model in record time due to the pandemic. And while all this was out of necessity, Rutledge states that moving forward the recommendations he gave to clients are starting to become the rule, and not the exception.
“What we’re now seeing is massive cost savings are possible with technology that free up more cash to invest in even better technology to serve up personalized and productive engagements day in, day out,” Rutledge summarized. “This is the new normal, and the next normal actually could be a better normal than ever before. We will keep pushing forward.”
In a recent survey by Frost & Sullivan, the overwhelming driver for enterprises planning and implementing digital transformation initiatives was improving customer experience and satisfaction. This slightly outpaced improving operational efficiencies, with 44% of respondents naming CX as primary, and 41% naming the latter.
Big Data has been with us for years, and across its many forms, is used more widely than most of us realize. As the analytics derived from Big Data play a growing role in decision-making, expectations become higher for the accuracy and completeness of the underlying data. Not only must organizations capture data from an ever-expanding range of sources, but they must also manage it in ways to glean insights to support business decisions.