Ironically, yet advantageously, the rapid advancements in technology have created a less technical and more human contact centre (even in the absence of humans).
“Contact centres are today enabled by fast responses, a plethora of communication channels and communicating in natural language in order to excel in the customer experience. Continuous advancements in technology add constant fuel to the benefits enjoyed by both brand and customer,” says Ebrahim Dinat, COO of South African customer experience solutions provider, Ocular Technologies.
Mimicking human interaction that is both friendly and conversational has possibly been a saving grace for the contact centre, which has in the recent past gained a negative reputation due to its stereotyped staccato exchanges around “press 1”, “please hold” and other, depersonalised frustrations.
“What has emerged due to the recent phenomenal progression in technology is delivering a technological answer to mirroring and creating fluent conversation. It is this eloquence of language that is now leading the way to achieving an outstanding customer experience. It’s kind of like coming home from a foreign country to the land where you speak not only the language, but also the lingo,” continues Dinat. “The omnichannel in particular is a technology that merges intelligence with digital, the animated with the object. It combines all channels of support and communication, and offers the customer a seamless experience.”
According to Ayesha Borker, solutions consultant at Aspect, a software partner of Ocular Technologies, “the need of the hour is to bring in an omnichannel end customer experience and also an omnichannel customer engagement centre that transforms your traditional contact centre force.”
Borker explains the omnichannel customer experience as such: “It is essential that a business provides a seamless experience to their end customers across all channels. These channels could include voice, text, social or even apps. Customers should not feel any loss of context when they switch from one channel to another, and for this it is essential that all channels are conversational in nature with each other. In addition to this, each channel should be conversational within itself as well. For example, something as basic as your voice IVRs should be dynamic in nature and predict the intent of a call on the basis of last interaction. This makes self-service truly personalised and not a static shoe that may not fit all. Virtual assistants over text should be able to comprehend the customer’s intent and provide accurate answers.”
Her take on the omnichannel customer engagement centre is that “maintaining continuity across the systems used by internal workforce is essential as it could otherwise lead to siloed operations, resulting in multiple delays and disconnects. Whether it is the interaction of a customer prior reaching out to an agent or a task opened by an agent reaching out to the back office staff – a seamless conversation is necessary between all the channels. This is exactly what converts a traditional contact centre into a futuristic customer engagement model. It takes care of all loopholes found in customer interaction journeys today and enhances the overall contact centre metrics.”
Internet Retailer, a magazine for the e-commerce market, shows the power of the omnichannel by saying that companies with the strongest omnichannel engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
“Investing in an omnichannel contact centre is an investment in your organisation’s future,” points out Dinat.