When it comes to planning technology investment, the contact center is thought of as a cost center and unfortunately often overlooked or sold short. When it comes to technology initiatives, it might go unnoticed and underfunded. This creates two issues: a contact center that stays in the past can cost your business a lot of money, and you might be missing out on turning the contact center from a cost center to a profit center. For larger companies, this could have consequences in the millions of dollars. As technology continues to improve and competitors put in new systems that make customer service a breeze, it can leave other companies behind in the dust. Also, in a time when superior customer service is an important if not the main competitive differentiator, the contact center is probably not the best place to lag behind the industry.
It’s estimated that contact center workers spend up to 15% of their days searching for information for customers, according to an article on agent turnover from Aria Solutions. When you consider a contact center that employs 200 people, that amount of time can lead to a loss of up to $1.5 million every year. This is driving more contact centers to choose new methods to stay modern to ensure continued business success.
A sizeable shift
Traditional call centers are mostly a thing of the past. As more call centers transform to a digital world with mobile customers, it’s important to understand why digitization is essential for contact centers and how a business can start the process on the best foot.
When you take the time to consider how much technology has changed over the last 20 years or is, it can seem almost unbelievable. The pace has moved so rapidly that it's hard to even remember the way the world was before all of this technology became a part of life. Giant cellphones and huge desktop computers seem almost prehistoric when you consider the modern amenities that make up today’s world.
While digitization can be seen in everything from our everyday phones to the ability to transmit information into space, one of the most important aspects of digitization isn’t being used by businesses that should take advantage of it. We’re talking about using all your digital inputs and channels and bringing them together to communicate in a single digital language.
A digital contact center offers a host of benefits to your customers through harnessing artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning, and other technology skills and melding them with traditional communication skills. It allows companies to enjoy contact center systems that have abilities that we might not have dreamed possible a few decades ago.
Analog vs. digital
Understanding how technology has advanced can be as simple as thinking about the phone. The analog phone was around for ages, although some readers may have never used one in their lifetime. Analog is also known as POTS (plain old telephone service), and this technology involves taking audio signals, such as our voices, and then translating those signals to make electronic pulses.
A digital phone (or other device) uses technology that takes the human voice and turns it into a series of 0s and 1s, also known as binary code. The device that receives the code puts it back into the original signal for a phone conversation. Converting the signals into binary form is the initial step towards creating a unified digital language. A digital name is given to all images, words, and sounds.
Why the digital move?
You understand what the difference is between a traditional call center with a strong focus on the voice channel and a modern digital contact center that expands customer interactions across many digital channels such as email, chat, text messaging and social platforms, but you might wonder why it’s so important to make the switch. This is a great question, one that has a variety of answers. A digital call or contact center has many benefits that a classic call center does not. Below are some of the most impactful reasons to consider when moving toward a digital contact center for your business.
- Better customer experiences. While most companies consider customer experience one of the ways they stand out from the competition, many companies still use traditional call centers to interact with customers. Salesforce research, for example, finds that 79% of consumers and 85% of business buyers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services. It therefore does not come as a surprise that the companies that have switched to a digital-first contact center approach are seeing much better results. Providing a superior customer experience that focuses on customer preferences and needs leads to a significant increase in customer satisfaction most often in tandem with a much better Net Promoter Score (NPS)Ⓡ.
- Improved productivity gains. Research shows that companies with digital contact centers also see much more productive employees. An increase of 50% in agent productivity is the average for companies that have moved forward with digital technology, such as NICE inContact’s CXone digital-first omnichannel software solution, according to research by CustomerThink.
- Cost-savings potential. Assuming a 200-agent contact center loses $1.5 million every year compared to a digital center, based on the example in the introduction, you probably don’t want to imagine the amount the company is losing as a whole. When you have a digital contact center with a robust database that’s easy to access, your agents will lose less time on things like research and be able to provide more efficient service, which results in cost savings.
- Lower employee turnover. Using outdated tools and processes can frustrate employees. Based on Workfront’s 2020 State of Work survey, nearly 90% of workers said that the technology used by a company is a significant part of the overall employee experience. Another 91% indicated that they wished they had access to the most modern technology solutions. Moreover, the survey indicates that 84% of businesses are missing out on opportunities by not moving to modern solutions.
- A better range of talent. Contact centers that use high-tech processes and software tend to attract workers who are tech-savvy and capable of meeting the high expectations of customers today. In addition, experienced employees are more likely to be interested in long-term remote jobs where they can continue to collaborate as if they were in a traditional office.
- Increased visibility and insights. Based on Forbes’ top 5 takeaways from NTT Ltd’s 2020 CX Benchmarking Report, respondents believe that customer analytics is the top factor that will reshape the customer experience in the next five years. Other important factors include digital integration and artificial intelligence. A contact center that can collaborate, communicate, and share information with the entire business helps improve the customer experience – and may also contribute to service and product improvement by doing so. In addition, analytics and insights bring to light new business models that lead to better digital transformation.
- Greater adaptability to change. When you integrate a digital solution, your contact center will be more flexible and adaptable. It will also increase your ability to
- Positive culture change. A Glassdoor survey indicates that more than half of employees believe that company culture is important to the point where it matters more than salary. Employees want to work in a positive environment that’s rewarding and satisfying. Contact centers with outdated practices and a lack of digital adoption will create a high-stress, highly unproductive environment, leading to a frustrated team of agents and a negative company culture. Sophisticated call center software solutions open the door to an environment that employees will thrive in, allowing them to have access to the latest tools and resources and empowering them to take control of their careers and roles within the organization.
Create a well-rounded customer experience
In a digital-first contact center, customers can communicate in the channel of their choice. Not only that, but agents and customers can switch or add channels as needed to achieve resolution in a way that best fits the customer need. This merged communication can further inform your customer experience insights and help you create an improved CX all-around.
When you have chosen a digital contact center solution that merges all the incoming data from various communication channels into one digital language, the use of unified communication (including sight, typed data, and sound) can be highly transformative for your company. Having this extensive amount of data lets you better understand how your business is doing and where you need to improve.
Companies with digital contact centers have data that can all speak together, no matter what channels you are using. With this clear communication, it gives you a straightforward route to advancing your business. It supports further service optimization options. You can collect all the data that customers provide you with, from all channels, and using digital technology, you will be able to analyze it in ways that make sense for your company. You can use the unified channel approach to orchestrate the entire customer journey and enrich the customer experience.
Change the role of human agents
Even with the best digitization services on the market, human agents are still necessary. The human agents’ role will change (one new aspect may be retraining agents to improve / teach AI). More of the repetitive interactions will be handled by bots or virtual assistants, but in the end the human factor will continue to be required for highly complex or emotional interactions. While the technology that is creating a digital revolution is robust, it’s still evolving. However, digital call center solutions go a long way toward making human agents’ jobs easier.
This can lead to better resolutions, increased efficiency, and the opportunity for more meaningful engagement. These things help with customer loyalty, which makes digital contact centers the perfect option to move into the future.
What’s in it for customers?
The most significant reason to move from a traditional contact center to one powered by software is improved customer satisfaction. The customers you see today have different needs than customers of the past. For instance, today’s customers want to get service in a variety of digital channels and using many social platforms any device they are using.
Engaging with customers where they are, through proactive outreach, bots, text, email, on social networks, and in chat, is known as omnichannel support. What was once something of a luxury to smaller brands, omnichannel support is a necessary part of your digital contact center today. With an omnichannel strategy, you give your customers the convenience and courtesy of being there for them where they need you.
Round-the-clock access to the information they need
Plus, customers no longer want to be tied to doing business during traditional business hours. If a customer needs something handled at 3:00 a.m., they expect to be able to handle it via self-service options like FAQs, chatbots, and other digital services and technology. If they cannot resolve the issue themselves, they expect proper routing to a live agent who can be there to help them, even if it’s only to drop an email that will be answered as soon as possible.
Thanks to digital technology, your contact center can now be available all hours of the day, every day of the week, regardless of whether someone is in the office.
Issues are resolved quickly and efficiently
Speed is important when it comes to efficiency and ensuring customers are satisfied. Right now, the best way to ensure fast communication in any medium is by going digital.
When it comes to digital contact centers, Interaction Analytics use artificial intelligence to analyze both digital and voice interactions to detect a customer’s problems by recognizing keywords and phrases in any interaction. Then the customer can be directed to some form of online help or passed on to speak with an agent who specializes in the issue the customer is having. This cuts down on the time a customer has to wait to get help. It also prevents a customer from being bounced around between various agents or having to do an extensive search for a solution.
Today’s world is one in which contact between providers and customers is easier, safer, and better for each person involved. When using digital communication channels you get greater reliability from the always-available digital technology and better security through top-level software that provides a better overall customer experience.
The feeling that the company understands their needs
One of the primary keys to progress for businesses today is data. It can be used for many things, including improving customer service and gaining new insights. The exciting thing about digital data is that it’s getting simpler to gather, analyze, store, and understand. When you have an enormous amount of data in digital form, you have the option to use the data in a variety of interesting ways.
Having a digital contact center means that each click of a website, every chat, and all other interactions are data points. Each of them can be processed before being analyzed and then kept available, so you can refer to them in the future. You can break up the data in whatever way you like to get the most valuable insights to help your business succeed by optimizing your procedures and services. All this data can improve the customer experience, ensuring that your customers feel understood and appreciated. This is what will drive repeat purchase behavior.
Stay focused on the big picture
Keep your eye on the goal. When going from a traditional call center to a digital-first contact center, it’s important to keep your eye on company goals. This transition provides a consolidated solution that should incorporate all interaction channels (digital and voice, agent-assisted and self-service, inbound and outbound). Insight into customer journey across channels and anytime access to customer data helps doing away with long resolution times for your customers and lets them do things on their terms using whatever devices they prefer the most.
Put the right leadership in place. The transition often takes a multifaceted approach that should be implemented strategically following a lot of thought. Having a superb Customer Service Director or C-Level executive who can guide the team through the digital transition is an absolute requirement. Remember that this entire process benefits your customers and should be implemented based on how they want to communicate with your team.
Offer customers what they want when they want it. Listening to clients' needs and offering solutions is paramount to your success. Some businesses may find that that means expanding into social media, while others may be better off creating enhanced self-service options with 24/7 chatbots or both. The idea is to answer your customers' most pressing needs while offering them digital solutions that fit their lifestyles.
Be future-minded. Even minor changes can have a major impact. Decide how to best implement new technology so that both employees and customers reap maximum benefit from your efforts. Most, if not all contact center today are at some stage of digital transformation. It’s likely that your competitors are already working on transforming their contact centers. Don’t wait until the last minute to do the same.
Get your contact center ready for success
NICE inContact CXone offers a digital-first, cloud-based customer experience platform. Today's customers are looking for seamless service across channels. NICE inContact CXone provides a robust digital-first omnichannel solution that allows you to interact with your customers anytime, anywhere, regardless of the device or channel they reach out through. This ability to interact at all levels helps you deliver what your customers need, whether it’s product information, a shipping estimate, or follow-up after the sale.
A digital contact center software solution streamlines your operations. It helps get the most from personnel, meets or exceeds company goals, and potentially reduces costs.
NICE inContact CXone provides these and many more valuable features for contact centers:
- A wide range of natively supported interaction channels to connect with customers in their channel of choice
- Omnichannel Routing to engage customers in smart digital conversations with digital-first omnichannel experiences
- A patented proactive predictive dialer that generates more revenue and fewer hang-ups
- Automatic contact distribution that ensures digital and voice interactions are routed to qualified agents
- Interactive voice response that accelerates resolution, improves routing and cuts costs as well as digital automation and AI with bots to automate handling digital interactions
NICE inContact offers a variety of digital solutions for contact centers and other customer-facing departments, such as collections, disaster recovery, and security and compliance. Our software is designed to help provide your company with a competitive advantage. Contact us for more information. We can help you select the options that are right for your needs.