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The Evolving Customer Contact Experience – Cost or Investment

3 min read

Whether it be Customer Care, Customer Contact, Customer Services, Customer Resolution (brand it as you like), it’s essentially the same meaning. Traditionally an organisation has a structure that ‘looks after’ customers who have purchased products, services and experiences that may require post purchase support.

Conventionally, it’s a reactive proposition with customers driving the contacts.

But shouldn’t it much more than that? Well I’m guessing this isn’t the first time you’re thinking… “yes, it should be much more!”

We would all know of reactive and transactional Customer Contact functions that are potentially viewed as an incremental cost of doing business. However, how many of us can say that we know of ‘many’ proactive experience based Customer Contact functions? The type that are data led with personalised sophisticated communications that is both revenue generating and promotes lifetime customer value? The type that supports the deeper integration between online and customer contacts as part of their connected ecosystem?

A reality for most businesses is that there is a need to do more with less. This shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to offering meaningful positive customer experiences. Rather, the concept of doing more with less requires a long term vision towards investing in the ‘art of the possible’.

How many of us remember life before smart phones? Well, yes, most of us would but I also can’t believe that the iPhone has been be my side for only 12 years! That said, ~3 billion people have a smart phone, ~2 trillion Google searches are made every year and over 50% of us will search and buy online using our smart phone. So it’s only natural that contacts to organisations are smart phone friendly.

Customer shopping behaviour has changed forevermore as an outcome of technology. We want to shop how we want, when we want, regardless of what channel we are using. We also expect to receive our purchases when it’s convenient to us and when it’s time to make contact regarding a query… we expect quick, informative and efficient service… no queues, no wait times.

Wouldn’t it be a buzz if businesses actually knew ‘me’ and could tell me what I’m potentially calling for, even before I say anything?

Perhaps I’ve digressed slightly so let me reign it in.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here and it’s growing at pace. From answering calls to chatting online. From monitoring what’s been said on social and predicting behaviour to having intelligent knowledgeable interactions. The possibilities with AI are [virtually] endless.

‘Fixing’ problems for customers is Customer Service 101 but let’s use this ever evolving tech savvy connected world and make it much more.

Let’s leverage our Customer Service teams expertise and increase customer engagement by eliminating friction. It’s less about executing a transaction and more about thinking beyond the now, and finding inspiration to build towards being future fit.

I must say that personally, I feel the future is well on its way to a proactive customer service proposition, using insights to predict customer’s intent and actively build a collaborative team of human and AI agents where interactions become cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

  • Explore the AI possibilities, where customers can engage with the channel of their choice. This frees up our humans to resolve more complex queries.
  • Discover how voice AI tools can understand the customer sentiment and resolve queries seamlessly while integrated into your ecosystem.
  • Look at expanding your contact channel to 24/7 using chat bots. After all, some of us like to shop all hours – no judgment!
  • Proactively engage with customers to drive brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Read Customer Experience: 5 Game Changing lessons by Alex Mead.

You may agree that customer expectations mandate the experience. They expect a unified experience at every touch point. It’s important that an organisations pathway to transformation includes re-imagining the Customer Contact experience.

It’s definitely a change in mindset of how we view the traditional Customer Contact function of today and take the leap of faith in envisioning insightful Customer Experience hubs of the future.

In my view, Customer Contact functions are an investment in preparing for the connected future.