Delivering great experiences amid the digital transformation

The digital transformation of contact centres has been accelerating at a pace never seen before – jump-started even further by the pandemic.

The trends spurred by the pandemic aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Customers want seamless, quick interactions, offered across a variety of channels. As customer demands grow and digitally savvy millennials make up a growing share of the market, brands need to evolve their business models to be more flexible and outcome-focused.

Leaders of TTEC, Cisco and IMI mobile discussed the role of CX in this “new normal” during a recent webinar.

It’s time for a new approach

The current approach to CX management falls short when it comes to improving customer satisfaction scores and lowering total cost of ownership, said Wayne Kay, TTEC’s vice president of sales. Under the traditional way of managing CX, some aspects may work well but the overall process is too fragmented, so other aspects falter.

“There are some real goldmines and minefields in contact centres,” said Kay, which leads to disjointed experiences for customers and employees alike.

Among the biggest problems with the current approach include:

  • There’s no ownership of end-to-end CX or employee experience
  • Lack of 360-degree view of the customer
  • Enterprises have to manage multiple service providers
  • CX doesn’t align with long-term strategies or operational goals
  • Scalability of legacy solutions is limited

Brands that want to stay on the cutting edge are embracing the future of customer experience: CX as a Service (CXaaS). This end-to-end managed services approach combines CX strategy, technology innovation, data integration, automation, and employee expertise to quickly develop and expand customer-centric initiatives. It strikes the perfect, customised balance of people and technology.

A CXaaS model helps brands identify the current pain points in their customer journeys and develop ways to address them. And CXaaS operations are managed by a third-party partner, on behalf of a brand – freeing the brand up to focus on what it does best.

“CXaaS is about being a true partner,” Kay said.

Cisco’s investment in next-gen CX

The contact centre plays a crucial role in CX, but most brands fail to deliver exceptional experiences there – even if they think they are.

“Now more than ever, your contact centre is your company’s front line of customer perception of your brand,” said Matthew Drayton, contact centre specialist at Cisco. “For most businesses there is a stark gap between what they think they’re delivering, in terms of customer experience, and what customers actually feel they are experiencing.”

He added that 80% of businesses believe they deliver superior experiences, but only 8% of their customers agree.

Customers want to connect with brands the way they want to, when they want to. And when they do, they expect a quick resolution; 75% of customers expect knowledgeable help from a contact centre within five minutes. But, Drayton said, “this idyllic experience is not the norm in contact centres today.”

Too often, agents have information overload, trying to wrangle information from too many disparate apps. As a result, Drayton said, agents lack the empowerment and tools they need to resolve customer issues quickly. At the same time, this generic approach fails to offer the individualized experiences customers expect.

That’s where Webex Contact Centre by Cisco comes in, he said. Launched in the United States in December 2020, and set to launch in the United Kingdom and Europe in August, the new platform has a digital-first approach that lets agents deal with all customer interactions in one interface. It provides real-time data and embeds artificial intelligence into the agent experience so agents have the information they need, when they need it, and are well-equipped to handle volume spikes.

Cisco has backed Webex with major investments, including $1.4 billion in cloud contact centre acquisitions over the last four months, and 496k cloud engineering hours that have produced 79 new microservices, Drayton said.

Cisco is doing this with the help of IMI mobile, a company specializing in seamless cloud-based customer interactions that Cisco acquired in February 2021.

The future of CX is here

Unlike the cumbersome, siloed, traditional way of handling experiences throughout the customer journey, the future of CX is better customer interactions, said Ashmesh Mehra, solutions consultant at IMI mobile. Brands must become more proactive, rather than merely reacting when customers have an issue.

In the past, brands have focused most of their efforts on the contact centre, but the contact centre is just one part of the customer lifecycle. To offer truly great experiences, brands need to pay attention to the full customer journey, and anticipate customer needs – quickly, and across more channels.

In many cases, brands suffer from teams in one silo not knowing what teams in another are doing. For instance, a marketing department may auto-send an email to a customer advertising a new product or service, not knowing that customer is disgruntled with the brand. With no single point of orchestration among channels, communications are too fragmented, which results in poor CX, Mehra said.

Now consider this example of a more proactive approach: Imagine your credit card has been used fraudulently. Before you even notice, your bank messages you, noting the suspicious activity and asks you to confirm whether you made the questionable purchase. You reply saying it was not you, and that you suspect it is fraud, and you’re directed to the bank’s contact centre. When you call, you are immediately connected to an agent who already has verified your identity, knows why you’re calling, and is prepared to help quickly. You don’t have to waste time or repeat yourself verifying who you are and explaining the problem.

That streamlined, multichannel approach is what Webex offers, Drayton said. As part of Webex, IMI mobile’s cloud platform, called IMI connect, lets brands build customer experiences on a digital “canvas” – using more than 10 channels, including Apple Business Chat and WhatsApp.

“We want to be where our customers are,” said Mehra, and that increasingly means messaging apps.

As more consumers are comfortable on messaging platforms, most customer needs can be met through automation and bots, he said. Customers only need to be moved to an agent if necessary; and when they are, agents are armed with the tools and knowledge to resolve their inquiries quickly. The results are better experiences for both customers and agents.

To learn more about Cisco’s vision for customer engagement, watch the full TTEC webinar.