HOSTCOMM NEWS

​Key Customer Experience and Contact Centre Trends for 2021

2020 was an incredibly challenging year for contact centres, as it was for all aspects of running a business. To facilitate home working, it saw the necessary blanket adoption of cloud and video technology. In 2021 many of the challenges of COVID remain, but there have also been fundamental shifts in consumer tastes, both related to COVID and entirely new. Whether your contact centre is sales or customer service-based, or both, we expect the following trends to be key in 2021. 

AI and Machine Learning

In today’s exceptionally competitive market, Customer service has become the key differentiator in winning customers, creating brand loyalty and getting repeat business. A staggering 96% of consumers said that customer service made the difference to the brand they choose. Of course, customer service can be expensive, and businesses are financially suffering at the moment. AI and machine learning can help with both reducing costs and improving service.

Reduce Customer Wait Time

Agent time is limited, but daily they have to deal with a large number of routine questions that occupy their time and inevitably lead to longer wait times for customers. Chatbots and voicebots are proven to be able to handle these tasks and free up your agents to deal with high-value tasks. With the right solution, your human and artificial agents can work together, utilising sentiment analytics to notify your human agents that they should take over a call because a sale is imminent or perhaps the customer is frustrated. 

Up until now, the main focus has been on chatbots, but voice technology is now extremely mature, especially platforms like Google DialogFlow, Google Cloud and its contact centre solution. Hostcomm’s gateway and expertise in diallers, has meant we have extended this technology to go beyond inbound and web-based voice conversations to offer outbound over a telephone line. With our solution, a voicebot can sit as an agent on your dialler, make calls and also carry out pre-qualification outbound campaigns with handover to a live agent.  

Other benefits of voicebots and chatbots are their ability to answer questions at any time of day, making your customer service much more convenient. 

Improved Routing 

Getting your customers to the right agent to solve their problem first time is key to creating better customer experiences. While IVRs have been effective at this, they are generally disliked, and their narrow tree structure means that, if a customer has pressed the wrong number, it leads to extreme frustration as they have to go through the whole menu again. Natural language processing, or voicebot technology, can improve this process greatly, by offering your customers an opportunity to give a much more detailed explanation of their problem and then a much easier way of moving around the menu system if there is that need. 

Real-time Suggestions and Call Monitoring

Machine learning combined with natural language processing and voice technology makes it possible to analyse 100% of your customer conversations. It is then possible to use predictive analytics to better understand customer behaviour, segment personas and deliver personalized information for each customer. Once you have that in place you can use the same technology to monitor conversations and then provide real-time suggestions to your agents that may make the difference between winning and losing a sale or turning a customer, who called for support, in a brand advocate. 

Better Targeted Sales

2021 will again leave you, unfortunately, trying to do more with less. Machine learning enables you to look at the data across your whole organisation, better understand where a customer is on their buyer journey, narrow down targeting to the most likely sales lead; in doing so, reduce costs and improve closure rates and speed-to-closure. 

Better Training

We said above how AI is being used to offer real-time support, but those same outcomes can be used to offer better training in advance. AI can identify the best way to talk to customers and then help training through things like gamified learning, AI-driven practice scenarios and immediate feedback. 

Augmented Reality

The pandemic meant that customer service teams had to try and resolve support issues without visiting their customers. In truth, that ability to solve and assist customers remotely has been a desire for customer service teams for a long while: it means they can reduce call-out costs and get a fix for their customer’s problem much quicker and so boost customer satisfaction.

Remote visual assistance technology is one such tool that can help. It offers the ability for customer service teams to take over the camera of the caller and then guide them through fixing the problem by using AR to write on the customer’s smartphone screen as they view the problem. It increases the chances of the problem being resolved over the call, and also, if that is not possible, provides better diagnosis so that the engineer can do so the first time. 

Social Media

According to Statista, 47% of respondents from the US had much more favourable opinions of brands that could solve their problems on social media. 

With the present level of social media usage, it makes perfect sense but gives a company the added challenge of managing another channel, with issues like keeping brand image consistent, integrating with overall customer records, and stretching agent resources to cover that channel. A chatbot placed on your social media channels can help to reduce the burden on your agents, and an omnichannel solution can help ensure your social media doesn’t remain in silos.

AI for social media has been projected to grow from $633 million in 2018 to more than $2.1 billion by 2023

Omnichannel Technology

Customers want to be able to communicate with your brand with their chosen method, which might be phone, live chat, social media, or any combination of these. As customer data to get insight and personalize the experience for customers is paramount, it is therefore essential that your contact centre has a unified customer record and unified analytics. When you a customer makes a call through to your contact centre, your agent can see that the customer contacted last time on social media, and the progress of their inquiry means more sales and higher customer satisfaction. 

Customer Self-Service

The first thing customers do is make a web search to try and resolve their issue or answer their question. They expect no less from your brand in the form of a comprehensive and easy to search knowledgebase. AI and machine learning can also help here. Natural language processing can enable your customers to interact with your knowledgebase in a more conversational style, while machine learning can better predict answers. 

Proactive Customer Service

This means being able to identify customer needs in advance and notifying them. Amazon does it particularly well – Think about how you receive messages that your parcel is on the way, that there is X number of stops before it gets to your place. Communication like this means you can relax and be more confident in planning out your day. 

It can save your agents time because it means that your customers don’t need to be constantly contacting you to find out information. This kind of communication takes resources, but it is something extremely suitable for automation through many of the technologies listed above, whether it is SMS, chat or voice. 

Video Chat

While video chat has been around a long time, we started the year with many people sceptical that they needed to see a customer service agent. That has all changed with the desire to see a face becoming a requirement for a much larger segment of the population. Contact centres should offer this to customers as much as possible to help create those personalised associations with their brand.

Security

With almost everything moving to the cloud, and customer data becoming ever more strategically important, businesses will want to think about using VPN multi-factor authentication. Two-factor setups are much safer than just a password and can help businesses better keep track of who has access to sensitive data. 

Mobile

More and more consumers expect to use their mobile to chat with your customer service agents and access website and knowledgebase. Businesses, therefore, need to ensure all of this functionality is optimised for the mobile experience. 

About Hostcomm

Hostcomm helps organisations transform their customer service, outbound sales campaigns, data security and internal employee interaction. Our solutions include cloud contact centre, remote visual assistance, live chat, AI voice and chat and PCI-DSS certified payments. Hostcomm develops most of its software in-house and combines it with award-winning third-party products to provide maximum performance for a modest investment. We are able to offer packages of features, service, support, reliability and pricing unmatched in the industry.



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