Opportunities grow when partners tap AI, machine learning, and automation to help contact centers drive customer experience improvements.
(Published 7/21/2022 by Channel Futures)
Today’s most successful brands are winning and differentiating themselves with customer experience (CX). Customer experience drives more than two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined, according to Gartner, but more than 70% of CX leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results.
Contact center environments, especially, are facing unprecedented challenges. Due to the ongoing labor shortages prompted by “The Great Resignation,” for example, companies can’t always find enough people to hire for their open positions.
Additionally, the shift to remote and hybrid work has prompted workers to demand more flexibility. Together, this is having a tremendous impact on CX and resulting in poor customer satisfaction scores. According to a recent study by Contact Center Pipeline, 22% of contact centers say improving self-service is their number-one priority going forward.
Further compounding these challenges are customer expectations. According to a recent HubSpot study, 93% of customer service teams say customers have higher expectations than ever before. Further, Emplifi has found that 86% of consumers will leave a brand they trusted after only two poor customer experiences.
Spending Shift Can Alleviate Challenges
To help ensure customers don’t head to greener pastures, contact centers must look for ways to optimize CX at every turn. They can’t “hire” their way out of this problem. So, the question remains, how can they satisfy and delight their customers without overburdening their shrinking head counts?
The solution lies in the form of a digital-first approach that combines the power of next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA) and fractionalized labor to improve CX. By shifting dollars toward these areas, contact centers can effectively scale and drive efficiencies in ways that were not possible even a few years ago.
- Automation done right. Automation has come a long way from the early days when the limited functionality of chatbots and other tools could quickly hamper a contact center’s ability to respond in an accurate and timely manner to a customer’s request. Fast forward a couple of years, and advancements in natural language processing (NLP), for example, are making chatbots and other AI-driven automation more accurate and efficient in terms of responding to customer needs. In the last couple of years, text-to-speech and speech-to-text have dramatically improved. No longer are businesses simply deflecting to chatbots and other tools to solve staffing issues and improve response times – they’re actually solving their problems with these technologies and finding it easier to do so.
- The “gig economy” paves the way for fractional staffing. Fractionalized labor, driven by the gig economy that began to emerge nearly a decade ago with Uber, Lyft and others, is now making its way into contact centers, and helping these businesses solve some of their staffing issues. Through this model, contact centers can more easily staff according to demand. Further, workers gain the desired flexibility to work when and how they want, which can lead to improved employee satisfaction and happier customers.
- Digital-first strategies are rich in opportunity for the channel. In 2022, IDC expects spending on CX to reach $641 billion, representing a significant opportunity for channel partners that have the knowledge, expertise and are motivated to guide their contact center customers through the process of selecting and implementing the next-generation solutions, such as those offered by industry leaders Observe.ai, replicant, Uniphore, and Airkit, that will ultimately enable them to compete and win on CX.
For channel partners, expanding offerings and capabilities in the area of CX is key to remaining relevant in the rapidly evolving contact center landscape. Not only does it get the partner closer to the “money engine” of the business, but it also enables them to create more “stickiness” with the customer by helping them solve the pain points as they move farther away from person-to-person customer interactions in favor of technology-driven CX.
Mike Shonholz serves as chief revenue officer for ARG, leading consulting, partnerships and marketing. He previously was director of CDW’s Aggregation, Infrastructure & Managed Services business from 2011 to 2018. He has been pivotal in establishing partnerships with leading industry providers, managing solution architects, and developing offerings, go-to-market strategies, and programs to solve client business challenges. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @my_ARG on Twitter.
Originally published by Channel Futures.