Research analyst firm Forrester is right to suggest that it has become vital for businesses to develop a customer experience plan, which must be carefully devised and executed to both create and to sustain growth. The company’s report, ‘The Total Economic Impact of NICE inContact CXone’, describes customers as being ever more empowered by their “unprecedented access to information and their voices are amplified by social media.”
This empowerment means that customers engage with brands using the channels of their choice – regardless of where they are on the customer journey – either a pre-sales enquiry or post-sales service stage. They can now interact through live chat, by phone, email, or through social channels. “This has made quality customer interactions a cornerstone of customer experience strategies and investing in customer experience technologies a priority to win, serve, and retain customers”, claims the report.
Everyone is operating within an experience economy today, and change is being driven by the digital revolution. Changing customer and consumer expectations are at the heart of it – transforming the way customers interact with businesses. In the past, customers used up to seven channels of communication. Fast forward to today, and companies are under increasing pressure to be able to provide excellent customer service across even more channels ; something that is often referred to as the omnichannel experience.
The result is that organisations are finding themselves in need of solutions that can quickly adapt to and fulfil consumer expectations, be deployed instantly, always be updated and scale with use. However legacy on-premise solutions are not able to provide this due to lengthy deployment, inflexibility and at times significant upfront costs, which are hurdles to delivering good customer service.
As a result. we’re seeing a major shift to the cloud where organisations are benefitting from:
This promotes the need for efficiencies in the form of a reduced time to market via readily available solutions, and the economics of the cloud provide the step forward to address both the opportunities and the challenges presented by today’s digital, market and customer trends.
Value customer time
Furthermore, perhaps more than ever, customers want to feel valued. In fact, Forrester finds that 73% of customers want companies to value their time and see this as an indicator of good customer service. For companies and their contact centres, the challenge is therefore to achieve optimal average call-handling time, which is also referred to as AHT. However, this isn’t about pushing customers off each call as quickly as possible – at least not without maintaining quality interactions. Customers want their queries answered in an appropriate manner, and to their satisfaction.
This means that the AHT metric is only part of the equation because, as Forrester says, companies need to “provide ease through omnichannel engagement, effectiveness in first call resolution, and an emotional connection that showcases pre-emptive or proactive care.” These days it’s also important to not just think about call-handling, but also about live chat, chatbots, website engagements, and social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
To achieve this aim, firms need a contact centre “that can easily and quickly scale up agents to maintain service levels during peak times as well as leveraging CRM integrations and real-time data analytics to resolve customer issues more effectively.” The report, therefore, claims that a cloud contact centre enables these benefits, and in 2017 Forrester predicted cloud subscription growth of 25% – indicating that “the strength of the market’s offerings.”
Embrace the cloud
Specific to this is cloud contact centre interaction management (CCIM). Interestingly providers reported at the time a 20% growth rate – fairing far better than on-premise solutions, whose revenues remained flat. With cloud confidence in cloud technology growing across sectors, such as financial services, these rates could well be far higher in 2019. In fact, the key findings of the report were as follows:
Be engaged, be productive
With these challenges in mind, such as the need to reduce costs while improving customer experience, CXone aims to have one experience for employees and customers by offering a unified cloud platform to keep contact centre teams productive and engaged with customers. This response to the need for more efficiency, while promoting more effective customer service.
Another benefit comes from the fact that cloud platforms can enable organisations to add new toolsets while being able to integrate with other solutions to deliver continuous and automatic improvement and updates. Today, it’s also important to use a system that benefits from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), allowing it to self-learn and adapt automatically based on its own data insight.
With the help of AI and ML, it’s possible to apply Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to a business to help its employees do more without expending any human effort. The best way of using AI and ML solutions is to focus on solving specific problems and create new opportunities based on what people are doing during their workday, rather than any subjective measure or best guess. Ultimately, this ensures that you’re making data-driven decisions.
Solving specific problems and creating new opportunities necessitates some understanding of what you want to achieve from a business perspective, and should always be the first step towards any technology adoption. This can be assisted by using data analytics and AI to uncover new opportunities to leverage technology in business. For example, NICE offers combined desktop analytics with machine learning and AI to be able to automatically identify common sequences and tasks that are occurring across an organisation.
The key piece of advice that NICE gives is to counsel organisations to focus on the business problem that needs solving, ensure that you’re using the right solution to achieve the desired outcome, and keep in mind that technology is an enabler for business improvement. So, use automation to remove repetitive, mundane, time-consuming tasks and increase engagement by giving employees the time to focus on adding value.
All of this is great, but is artificial intelligence really necessary? Well, customer service agents can achieve a lot on their own, but they can go even further with some assistance. Tasks such as having a conversation with a customer or understanding the nuances of a situation such as a complaint requires human empathy and understanding. What’s more, ensuring that every single regulation and business rule has adhered to 100% of the time, is asking a lot even for the most diligent employee, particularly when those rules and regulations update frequently. The NICE Employee Virtual Attendant (NEVA) therefore sits on employee’s desktops and reacts in real-time, giving them guidance on business policies and ensuring they’re always doing the right thing for the business and for the customer.
In addition, there are some things that even the best customer service agents can’t do on their own. For example, analysing hundreds of items of customer data within seconds to identify insights or refer to previous interactions relevant during a customer call. As a customer service agent, it would be helpful to know if this customer has already called about the same issue and to understand exactly what the status of the issue now is, so help can be pro-actively provided in real-time.
It’s about augmenting the customer service agent to ‘supercharge’ what they can do and help them to achieve more than they possibly could do on their own. After all, who wouldn’t want their own virtual assistant helping to make their work easier and their customers happier?
Use analytics to streamline customer interaction. The challenge organisations all face is capturing the sheer amount of data available and then working out how to process and best use that data. NICE takes a comprehensive approach to analytics that is based on the ability to analyse both unstructured and structured data, across any channel.
Once we have the data, we look to do three things:
Put data into action
Put simply, analytics allows an organisation to act, and bring insight and prediction to the front line of customer service and provide a greater experience. But analytics isn’t just about the customer. Employee performance and satisfaction is important. Several research studies over the years have found a correlation between happy employees and happy customers. A loyal and satisfied employee will have a positive effect on the customer experience they provide. Furthermore, a happy workforce is a more highly productive workforce. Unhappy employees conversely may taint the brand and customer experience – leading to adverse financial and reputational implications.
NICE, therefore, advises organisations to put employees at the heart of the customer journey by identifying their persona to help them feel engaged. It’s also wise to give employees access to technology and tools that provide visibility across all touchpoints and channels so they can make informed decisions in real-time through analytics. No agent wants to be on the back foot. This can be achieved by using analytics to put data into action, helping to improve decision-making too.
Faster, quality experience
NICE inContact is helping organisations around the world improve customer experience in many ways by adopting a cloud-first mentality. For example, MoneyGram International, a global provider of money transfer services, is now able to provide faster customer experience globally and through CXone, MoneyGram has achieved:
– 30% reduction in handle time within MoneyGram’s online channel
– 5% reduction in transfers within the application with the platform
– Moved from 30 different IVR applications to three
– Reduced overall costs while gaining far more functionality
Additionally, a Fortune 100 global manufacturer has experienced a vastly improved Net Promotor Score by providing one global customer experience in 130 countries through one system while improving reporting and analytics across the businesses. Another Fortune 100 global manufacturer also consolidated its global contact centre across 48 countries, and now handles 10 million calls through one system and has streamlined costs dramatically.
All of this is being achieved with NICE InContact CXone, which as a unified cloud platform creates One Experience for employees and customer demands. It improves the customer experience “in the cloud” by providing some of the industry’s most complete and best-of-breed customer experience (CX) applications. This includes digital omnichannel routing for more than 30 channels, analytics, artificial intelligence and workforce optimisation.
Reducing the gap
In fact, many of the needs of contact centres are met with a solution such as this, while helping to reduce the customer experience gap. This is defined as being the gap between the belief that most organisations have about themselves and what they provide, with 45-47% of them thinking that they provide either outstanding or good customer experience. Yet consumers, in stark contrast, rate their experience as being much poorer than it is graded by the organisations with whom they interact.
With the right tool’s organisations can become smarter, more integrated, more secure, increasingly holistic, more innovative and with the cloud they are able to scale (up or down) according to demand. All of this is vital because no organisation can afford to compromise on customer experience in today’s experience-driven economy. It is the bedrock of their success, helping them to succeed by differentiating themselves from their competitors in what is an increasingly competitive market.