How to Thrive During the Customer Service Revolution

If you were alive in 1967, you might recall it as a year of firsts: the first cryonically preserved human being, the first human heart transplant, and the installation of the first ATM. But if you worked in a customer service job, you'll likely recall the introduction of the first toll-free 1-800 number. This innovation allowed Americans to contact companies without having to worry about fees or operators, revolutionizing the way companies interacted with their customers.

Fast-forward 50 years later to the era of omnichannel engagement. Customers interact with companies through a variety of technologies and platforms. They expect their needs to be addressed in a quick, personalized, and impactful fashion, across all channels. If a contact center can't meet these expectations, it could mean the end of the line for its business.

What's the secret to meeting the needs of the modern consumer? We've outlined several ways contact centers can revolutionize their customer service and thrive in the omnichannel era.

Embrace the man and machine relationship.

Recently, robotic technology has come under fire with a misguided belief that robots are taking away jobs from humans. The reality is that robotic process automation (RPA) technology is improving contact center operations by automating routine back-office tasks, streamlining contact center processes, and boosting employee engagement and productivity. By automating routine and rules-driven tasks (such as filling in forms or processing orders), humans can spend more time on the tasks that require analysis and subjective judgment. RPA allows employees to focus on high-value activities, such as having meaningful interactions with their customers. The co-existence of man and machines is improving work-life quality, and contact centers must embrace this technology to help their employees thrive in today's service industry.

Use data and technology to understand your customers.

Long gone are the days that customers rely solely on a 1-800 number to reach contact centers. Customers use multiple channels (email, social media, surveys, chat, SMS, and phones) to communicate their experiences. Thanks to innovations in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), intelligent solutions now exist to help companies mine through the multiple data sources and extract insights from these engagements. Contact centers can then use this data to improve customer service engagement and overall operations.

In addition to advanced datasets, voice analytics technology now allows businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. For example, neural nets are used to scan databases of recorded human voices, recognize words, and derive their meaning. By using technology to analyze thousands of interactions, contact centers can begin to understand customer issues and reactions to marketing messaging across all channels. This analysis can help the contact center succeed at building stronger and more meaningful customer interactions to boost satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Put employee motivation front and center.

Employees are the driving force behind every contact center, and keeping them engaged and satisfied is crucial for success. The newest generation of workers, millennials, are particularly keen on working for companies that put their career growth front and center. A recent study from PwC found that 52 percent of Millennials believe that the most attractive quality in an employer is good opportunities for career progression. This new generation of workers wants to feel as though they are constantly growing, and it's necessary for employers to address that desire to retain and motivate staff.

Savvy employers are motivating their workforces using video-game inspired technology. Gamification technology uses company data and game design elements to help employees measure their progress, set goals, and engage with other employees from any location. These solutions allow employees to receive real-time performance insights and constant feedback, ensuring they are constantly growing and improving. A highly engaged staff is more likely to deliver the best possible customer service, so contact centers must allocate resources and time to support their employees' development.

To survive in this era of multichannel engagement, contact centers must adjust their approach to technology, customer engagement, and employee motivation. If they're willing to embrace these new strategies, the omnichannel era offers a limitless path to successful customer interactions and business growth.

Aviad Abiri is vice president of portfolio enablement at NICE.

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Posted July 27, 2017