Melissa Copeland, Principal at Blue Orbit Consulting reveals six predictions for a successful contact center in 2023.
1. Technology Alone Is Not the Answer
Self-service is not the only solution to the labor shortage, nor is technology the only answer to reducing costs. Technology is a key building block, but it is only one tool in the whole kit. Savvy organizations recognize that technology alone is not the answer.
Contact Center success comes from the appropriate updates to all three elements of the Customer Service Trilogy:
Another way to think of this triad is technology, labor, and culture. The right technology or software platforms to do the job: the tools, training, and support so your people can use the tools.
Outsourcing is back and also brand new again: on-shoring, near-shoring or off-shoring. The 2022 version of outsourcing, also known as business process outsourcing (BPO), has an array of benefits in the right situations and can be blended with any operation with an understanding of its calls, needs, processes, and tools.
2. Holistic Experiences Win the Day
What is new is the consideration of employee enablement as a large piece of the equation. Once you let go of technology as the only answer, the world of solutions opens for the other pieces of the trinity: people and process.
The biggest gains come when we focus on making it easy for employees and customers.
3. Workplace Culture Trumps Servicing Strategy Every Time
Many companies struggled with delivering for their customers. The roadmap for success in every case included a critical culture component, whether it was readjusting to a new environment, implementing new technology, or just general malaise.
It is not just a process or new technology. Change management is a discipline that extends beyond communication to establish and reinforce new norms. This year will be the one when organizations look at the individual pieces and figure out how to make the sum of the parts greater. Smart leaders will truly take the time to understand what their people and their customers want and need and align them. Others who ignore this dynamic reality will continue to pay the consequences, falling further and further behind.
4. Customers Are Not Getting More Patient…or More Civil
Recently, there has been a barrage of press about the demise of patience and civility in the workplace and retail environments.
For those in service organizations, whether in healthcare, food, or customer service, being on the frontline can be an uncomfortable place. Supporting frontline employees with the right tools and culture and recognizing that customers have a lower tolerance than ever for waiting begs some rethinking about how to provide the right support at the right time. You can never make everyone happy, but you can offer a variety of channels and options to raise the boiling point. Service level and speed to serve will regain ground as some of the most critical metrics.
5. Innovative Training and Knowledge Solutions Move Front and Center
Employee retention is key to so many things in an organization. Employee competence and empowerment drive customer experience. Employee feelings of recognition, satisfaction, and commitment drive culture and workplace vibes.
One of the most basic customer service elements has been long ignored and underinvested in consistently. Training and knowledge management are key.
In 2020 and 2021, most training was simply moved in format from the classroom to a video call.
In 2022, teams realized this switch was simply not creating equal results. Learning and development teams on the cutting edge are designing new models that combine classroom, self-paced, 1:1, and on-the-job experiences to build competency and relationships. When combined with effective knowledge management, this is an on-ramp for creating great employee and customer experiences.
6. Human vs. Bot; If You Are Not Automating Rote Work, You Need to Catch Up
When it comes to streamlining work, using tools like speech recognition and analysis and robotic process automation (RPA) are critical aspects of any customer-serving organization.
Speech analytics allow visibility into what is going on during 100% of transactions – not a sample or just certain calls. All of them. And not just for quality assurance and coaching agents; but for strategic insight as to why customers are calling and how those calls are handled so that organizations can use human resources to interpret data and set a strategy that customers will love.
This is too powerful to pass up.
The payoff from the automation of rote work, however, is real. And it is big. The same goes for RPA. Looking at any situation where manual work or duplicative information is being transferred from one format or system to another is a candidate. RPA is not about eliminating people. It is about freeing up people to do the work humans have to do.
About the Author
Melissa Copeland is Principal at Blue Orbit Consulting LLC.
Melissa founded Blue Orbit Consulting in 2014 after running staff organizations in contact centers and building consulting practices in customer service, process improvement, complex program management, and channel operations.