Why contact centres are set for a new era of collaboration

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The traditional contact centre (Contact Centre 1.0) is a dated foundation for customer engagement in sales, service and support. So what constitutes Contact Centre 2.0?

Has anyone ever enjoyed calling customer service?

Think about it. When’s the last time you had to call customer service? Whether it was a problem with a product, to ask questions before making a purchase, pay your bill or cancel service, I’m sure you felt anxiety leading up to and during the interaction.

How many times do you try to get a live representative or how many times do you have to repeat yourself to the automated attendant? How often do you feel caught in a never-ending maze of choices before you’re on the right path only to have the call dropped during transfer? This is contact centre 1.0 and it's unfortunately the norm when it comes to customer service. But that’s all about to change. 

Earlier in the year, I partnered with RingCentral to study the state and future of contact centres and the results were eye-opening. If you work in customer experience (CX), customer service or support, IT, digital transformation, or any effort that touches the customer, please compare where you are to other companies facing similar challenges and opportunities. 

Contact Centre 1.0

Any time you have to contact a company, it’s like going back in time. Contact centres as we know them today were designed and deployed at scale in the 1960s, and the management models, governance models, and standards that defined them are still alive and well today. We call this Contact Centre 1.0. And, this dated foundation for customer engagement in sales, service, and support for more than 60 years is in serious need of modernisation and reinvention.

While companies might set out to become more customer-centric, technology, processes and policies are not scaling or delivering experiences that customers value. They are scaling dated business practices and standards that are not in alignment with modern experiences customers are learning to expect. Instead, when it comes to traditional companies, many customers are forced to compromise.

In a world where experience innovation is a competitive advantage, Contact Centre 1.0 is the Achilles Heel of customer experience. 

Exceptional customer service is not only a rarity, it’s a standout experience. As disruptive technologies such as cloud, real-time collaboration platforms, artificial intelligence (AI), conversational commerce, et al., become foundational, the opportunity to reimagine customer service is upon us. This sets the stage for “Contact Centre 2.0,” and it takes vision and architecture to implement and scale new technologies, operational agility AND new standards for customer experience. 

Contact centres as we know them today were designed and deployed at scale in the 1960s.   

Contact Centre 2.0

Contact Centre 2.0 represents a shift from on-premise technologies, work siloes, limited and/or outmoded customer channels and distributed knowledge to cloud-based, collaborative, omnichannel, and intelligent customer engagement. More so, modernising the contact centre delivers an integrated approach to unified communications that brings business experts and contact centre agents together to deliver modern, real-time customer experiences.  

When you study customers and the experiences they value and seek, it serves as a mandate, and a blueprint, to modernise customer engagement. And, it’s more important than ever for companies.

  1. Cloud, collaboration, AI, etc., help to deliver exceptional experiences and establishes a competitive advantage by aligning teams and experts to engage customers in familiar and preferred channels in real-time.
  2. Exceptional experiences expose customers to evolving standards of excellence to which everyone is benchmarked. 
  3. Enterprise and consumer technologies are creating unprecedented opportunities for experience innovation. 

Connecting the dots 

When it comes to customer engagement and service, our research found that strategic digital transformation is serving as the underlying evolution from 1.0 to 2.0. But there’s still so much work to do.

In our research, we set out to understand the challenges and opportunities facing customers as they evaluate contact centre technologies and strategies. While we know transformation and modernisation are difficult, we were surprised to learn that only one-third of contact centres are undergoing digital transformation. We also found that a majority of businesses (62%) still depend on premise-based technology for customer engagement. 

While it’s a driver, customer experience is really about how you make someone feel in important moments that define the brand relationship.

If customer experience represents opportunities to earn competitive advantages, there’s much work to be done. We learned that the number one area where contact centres are struggling is improving and modernising customer experiences. Ranked third is improving customer satisfaction ratings. Among the many challenges standing in the way of improving CX is no surprise. Costs also represent a top challenge, which ranked second in our research.   

But, among the more progressive organisations, digital transformation is prioritising the shift to cloud-based technologies. Why? Cloud technologies upgrade customer engagement via a centralised (and familiar) platform for agents and customers to connect anywhere, anytime. Cloud computing also maximises the consumerisation and distribution of web-enabled devices, allowing customers and contact centre representatives to communicate, collaborate and connect more effectively.

Those companies that are digitally transforming contact centres are already seeing notable benefits and ROI in the following areas:

  1. Cost savings
  2. Time savings
  3. Improved customer service levels
  4. Increased agent productivity
  5. Better communication between agents and the rest of the company 

Customer experience is the next competitive advantage and a big opportunity for businesses to grow and succeed by helping customers feel like they matter, and they’re valued.

Believe it or not, digital transformation in of itself, isn’t the sole provider for customer experience. While it’s a driver, customer experience is really about how you make someone feel in important moments that define the brand relationship. Digital transformation is driven by that vision and commitment and the technology you invest in to bring those improved experiences to life today and tomorrow. This is the foundation for Contact Centre 2.0.

Please download our report to help you plan your next steps and learn how digital transformation is making contact centres unified, collaborative, and intelligent, “Contact Centre 2.0: The Rise of Collaborative Contact Centres.”

About Brian Solis

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, a Prophet company. He is also an award-winning author, prominent blogger/writer, and keynote speaker. His new book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design helps companies build a new generation of experiential brands.

A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. His research and his books help executives, and also everyday people, better understand the relationship between the evolution of technology and its impact on business and society and also the role we each play in it. As a result of his work, Solis also helps leading brands, celebrities, and startups develop new digital transformation, culture 2.0, and innovation strategies and that enable businesses to adapt to new connected markets from the inside out.

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03rd Sep 2018 08:54

As you say Brian, what consumers expect when they contact customer service has radically changed - and doesn’t always reflect the service they are offered. Organisations need to become more mature at how they deliver the right customer experience - a subject we explore in this recent blog post https://www.eptica.com/blog/4-ways-transform-your-cx-maturity-levels

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