How Digitalisation will Impact the Contact Centre Market
Q&A with NICE inContact covering real word digital challenges
As digital channels continue to penetrate the contact centre industry and enhance customer experience, I reached out to Chris Bauserman, VP, Segment and Product Marketing NICE inContact, to get this thought on how digitalisation was impacting the industry so heavily dominated by voice in previous years.
What does digitalisation in the contact centre mean to NICE inContact?
“Digitalisation is something we’ve been helping our customers with for some time as part of the explosion of digital channels now being used in contact centres. Moving from on-premises legacy technology to the cloud makes it easier to add core digital channels like SMS that may have been difficult to add from a legacy system.
Businesses must remember that digitalisation is vital. Many contact centres are on the tipping point of moving from voice first to digital first, which makes moving to a cloud platform even more important due to the speed of development. As you add channels such as chat or SMS, along comes Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook Messenger. As these channels develop and the expectation from customers continues to grow, it’s important to keep up. A platform such as NICE inContact CXone will help you keep pace with such changes as digitalisation continues to accelerate”.
How much of a variation do you see in customer requirements?
“We see two major variations. The first is determining which digital channels are the most important. A flexible cloud platform makes it very easy to add channels and, while some channels such as chat, email and text are quite standard in a contact centre, others will vary depending on the customer and location. For example, if you have a younger audience then social channels will be more important. Social channels also vary by geography. Contact centres in the US, Europe and Asia will all have slightly different requirements and priorities depending on the importance of channels such as Facebook and WhatsApp. So, it’s not just about digitising, it’s also about understanding which channels should be prioritised.
The second variation is how contact centres organise their agents to service those digital channels. This will differ depending on factors such as the size of the company and the number of interactions they have on digital channels. For example, companies with a focus on voice will have agents dedicated full-time to phone lines, with separate agents to handle social channels. In comparison, some companies might want to blend their agents so they can handle multiple channels at the same time. This will affect how you organise and train your agents when digitising a contact centre.”
“The next level of advancement is then to blend multiple digital channels in the same customer interaction, as a discussion that starts on one channel might not resolve the issue, so the customer must add a web co-browse session to an online chat or move immediately to a voice call”
“I believe this is where the service is going and where most customers would like to see it go”
Are you still seeing the same problems blockers from a few years ago when it comes to deployment?
“We’ve come a long way over the last three years. Organisations have continued to move to cloud platforms, allowing them to add digital channels much more easily and to keep pace with the rapidly evolving social landscape.
On the other hand, one prevalent issue worth mentioning is the coordination between customer service and marketing teams on some of these public-facing social channels. Marketing will answer a public tweet that will affect the brand, and customer service is more likely to address the matter privately; the handover between both functions is sometimes complicated. There’s certainly still room for improvement when it comes to coordinating these two responses”.
What’s the biggest factor that will push digitalisation in contact centres in 2019?
“The biggest factor that will push digitalisation is customer demand. In our 2018 CX Transformation Benchmark survey, we saw that we had hit a tipping point where customers would rather reach out to an agent though digital channels than a voice call. This will push contact centres to shift to a digital-first approach
And we don’t just see the shift, we also see the reason for it. It’s speed. It’s not just that customers would rather avoid having to talk to an agent, it’s also that they believe it will be faster. For contact centres, embracing a digital first approach will not only be faster, but also cheaper. On the phone, one agent can only handle one customer at the time. On digital channels, agents can typically handle three to four customers at the same time because of the breaks and gaps in the conversation. So, this is a twofold win that will continue to accelerate digitalisation in 2019.
Also, don’t forget that customers might already be trying to reach you through digital channels without you realising. We had a customer that put out a phone number and on their lorries throughout dozens of cities and only realised some time later that customers were texting him – only he didn’t have text capabilities in his contact centre. When they turned on the channel, they were flooded with text messages. So, if you’re a contact centre in 2019, you might be providing a bad service without even knowing it.
How does the emergence of CPaaS impact the NICE portfolio?
“Today, we are seeing that true CPaaS is generally only an option for enterprises, as it often requires a very large team of development staff to recreate and customise everything in the contact centres. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t practical for other companies that don’t have development staff.
At NICE inContact, our CXone platform provides a complete set of unified applications that already work well together and already do all the core things that every business needs to do, like routing customer calls and digital channels to the best agents. We also provide an open cloud platform, with hundreds of open APIs and more than 120 prebuilt integrations from our partner ecosystem. We think you should be able to buy a contact centre that already works, and then integrate or program only the applications that are specific to your needs on top, rather than having to re-invent the wheel.
We think that the ability to buy and build is a big advantage for contact centres, especially those in more niche markets. You save money by only building and investing in what is unique to your customer experience, not in the whole contact centre.”
NICE inContact conclusions
Chris concluded that most customers today want omni-channel, but they tend to end up with multichannel service at best. Switching from one channel to another in a multichannel environment means customers will have to leave and go back at the end of a queue in when switching to another channel.
“As many customer interactions require multiple channels for fully resolve the issue, at NICE inContact we offer a true omni-channel experience that enables a customer to go from one channel to another without delay to help improve first contact resolution rate. The ideal situation is for the customer to reach you through the channel they prefer, and to resolve their problem there. But if this doesn’t happen, they must be able to go from one channel to another as smoothly as possible.”
“That’s why digitalisation will really force the need for contact centre companies to provide a true omni-channel experience”