As 2018 opens, the spotlight is burning on increased customer retention through improvements to the customer experience. Success will come to companies that provide not only a meaningful but relevant experience that meets or exceeds their customers’ expectations. Here are 10 tech tools that are coming of age in 2018, just in time to significantly improve your customers’ experience and your agents’ abilities.
To Benefit Your Customers:
- Artificial Intelligence
Gartner Research has predicted that, by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship to the enterprise without interacting with a human. In 2018, many of the technological advances available to contact centers come down to how you choose to implement artificial intelligence and robotic automation. These applications reduce costs and increase agent productivity by automating common and repetitive tasks. Customers are empowered to quickly and easily solve their own transactional issues; however, it’s important that the use of AI be transparent to them as part of establishing credibility and trust.
AI-based chatbots are one way to automate simple tasks, with one caveat: successful chatbots are continuously fed by powerful datasets that collate vast amounts of information culled from various company-wide systems. The chatbots’ repertoire of answers is only as good as its store of prior customer interactions, common questions and their answers, and documentation of successful issue resolutions. Nonetheless, CCW recently found that implementing automated engagement tools like chatbots are the second-highest priority for 2018.
- Speech-enabled Voice Recognition
This is not your father’s IVR. Natural language processing and understanding functions allow customers to have full conversations with bots, which provides another method of handling common interactions and letting live agents spend their time helping customers with more complex concerns.
- Speech Analytics / Voice Biometrics
However, not every interaction is common or calm. Speech analytics functions can overlay other AI processes to listen for elevated voice pitches and other emotional cues, assessing the customer’s feelings and transferring them to an agent when appropriate. Conversation analytics can also provide new sources of feedback, uncovering emotional drivers and zeroing in on keywords or topics that consistently elicit certain emotions.
- Video Chat
Sometimes it’s not enough to read or hear about a customer issue; sometimes it’s most effective to be able to see it. Providing visual customer support can cut straight to the root of a problem and get it solved in an efficient, frictionless manner that will turn casual customers into fans of your brand.
- Location-based Mobile
Beacon technology combines GPS and Bluetooth, enabling you to push alerts to mobile devices when they move within a specified area. As an emerging technology that raises privacy and regulatory questions, it should be implemented with the utmost consideration; however, it also provides powerful personalization and customization options.
- Seamless Channel Integration
Customers want to be able to switch easily between channels, depending on their own context: where they are, what device they’re using, what action they want to take, etc. Furthermore, channel integration is not just a tool for improving customer experience, but also an important component of improving your agent’s work experience. However, seamless, or omnichannel, integration is something of a contact-center holy grail due to the extreme complexity of successfully combining the activities of all available systems and channels in real time. An agnostic solution that “rides” over the top of all your existing systems and draws up-to-the-second information from all of your channels, compiling data and matching it to your customer identifiers is one to strive for.
To Turn Your Agents Into Industry Rock Stars:
- Comprehensive Agent Dashboards
Opt for easily customizable dashboards that display all relevant customer information for your agents’ use at any time – which is the gold standard for improving today’s customer service workforce. With this view, agents can immediately gain a comprehensive view of each customer, their buying history, and their likely goals for each interaction – and from there, take on a more consultative role where they can ameliorate emerging and even predicted needs.
- Customer Journey Mapping
This isn’t just a map of your customers’ experience with your brand; it’s also recognized as the map to move your business from a transaction-based culture to one built around the customer relationship. It improves your customer experience by identifying the sticking points where your customers are getting lost or dropping out, and these points can then be analyzed and fixed, opening a path that requires less effort by your customers and is therefore more engaging.
- Predictive Analytics
When your channel integration and journey mapping are bringing in comprehensive, real-time data, advances in data mining and predictive analytics can make the real magic happen, including proactively contacting your customers at key decision points, helping move them forward in their journey to “sale made.” The data modeling discovers trends and relationships in the data that have never been visible through the more traditional methods of reporting and business analysis. These insights provide deeper understanding of customers, prospects, and even your workforce; then changes can be made to support business goals across the organization.