CX + compassion equals a winning formula in challenging times

CX excellence is not a nicety to consider when there’s unspent budget funds or the economic outlook looks sunny. It’s uncertain times like now, with recruitment and retention concerns on the rise, that the customer experience needs to get a boost, not moved to the back burner.
That’s the wisdom of contact centre insiders who dissected our love-hate relationship with chatbots, opportunities in automation and AI, and why compassion for the human workers at the intersection of it all is so important.
“These are your front-line brand ambassadors, the advocates of your brand. They want to do a great job,” said Mike Orlic, VP, EMEA, TTEC. Sadly, antiquated systems and processes, inadequate tools and poor channel visibility sabotage contact centre associates’ best efforts.
“I feel sorry for the agents,” he told participants at the LinkedIn Live event, “Why brands should focus on CX in challenging times,” hosted by TTEC.
To bot or not
Thankfully, there’s optimism, particularly among 18- to 34-year-olds, about customer service improving in the year ahead, said Leigh Hopwood, CEO, Contact Centre Management Association (CCMA), another LinkedIn Live panelist. Consumers are proficient with self-serve options and accepting of chatbots for simple enquiries, but the experience is not always optimal.
“I have yet to have a positive experience with chatbots,” offered one viewer named Tom via live chat. Another viewer named Harj countered: “Bots can be really effective if they are designed with customers in mind.”
When chatbots are deployed effectively, associates are freed up to handle more complex enquiries and those that require a human touch, said Orlic of TTEC, which recently won three ECCCSA awards. TTEC focuses on the customer journey, working with clients to analyse customer intents to ensure associates are properly trained and equipped with the right tools to resolve issues swiftly and with empathy.
Associate care and feeding
A supportive workplace culture is key in challenging times, Hopwood and Orlic agreed.
When businesses prioritise strong employee engagement, retention rises, Hopwood said. With longer tenure, associates become more skilled, effective and happier in their roles, and their battle-won insights enrich the knowledgebase that keeps the virtuous cycle moving in the right direction.
Action item: Do something
“My frustration is business leaders don’t recognise what’s going on in the contact centre and how critical it is to a business’ sustainability,” said Hopwood. Her advice: involve stakeholders in the C-suite; ask front-line workers what they need; engage with marketing to ensure promises align with what can be delivered; network with industry peers to discover best practises.
And lastly, “Do something. If you do nothing, then you’re going to be left behind.”
View the 30-minute LinkedIn Live event “Why brands should focus on CX in challenging times.”