When it comes to responding to top CX trends, businesses that use cloud based call center solutions have a competitive edge over those who use less flexible technology. The secret is knowing how to leverage that advantage.
We're well into the era of the experience economy where the customer experience (CX) is king. Today's consumers don't just want value for their money and high-quality products - they also want to feel a personal connection with the brands they do business with. This desire has grown so strong that 80% of consumers now make purchasing decisions based on an emotional connection with the brand.[i]
Personal connections are made through customized experiences that demonstrate companies recognize their customers and understand their needs and preferences. The contact center is a hub for delivering these types of relationship-building experiences, and, in fact, 95% of consumers said customer service has an impact on brand loyalty.[ii]
Like most things in the business world, the concept of CX and the definition of an "exceptional experience" are continuously evolving. What may have been great CX a few years ago may no longer be good enough. Changing consumer demands keep contact centers on their toes and create a need for agile cloud based call center solutions.
At the beginning of this year (2022), Gartner identified four top CX trends, and all of them have implications for contact centers. This article will discuss these trends and map out how using industry-leading cloud based call center solutions can help organizations proactively address the trends.
What are cloud based call center solutions?
Cloud based call center solutions are the systems contact centers use to provide customer service through voice and digital channels, such as email, chat, and social media.
Core applications within the solution set typically include:
- Automatic contact distributor (ACD) - for routing voice and digital interactions to agents.
- Interactive voice response (IVR) system - for greeting customers, providing self-service options, and assisting with effective routing.
- Workforce management (WFM) - for forecasting, agent scheduling, and automation of intraday management.
- Quality management - for evaluating interactions according to quality standards.
- Call recording - for capturing voice interactions.
As important as these foundational applications are, software vendors are enabling businesses to take CX to next level by supplementing them with additional capabilities such as AI-powered analytics, smart automation, and digital self-service. These additional solutions allow businesses to better analyze performance, offer enhanced experiences, and streamline operations.
Additionally, because cloud based call center solutions are in the cloud, they allow businesses to be nimble. In a cloud based arrangement, the software vendor hosts the software and the client accesses it through a browser. This offers several advantages over on-premise systems, including:
- Always using the latest release
- Access to the latest innovations
- Easily add other software modules
- Easily integrate with other systems
- Quickly scale up and down
All these features ultimately benefit the customer experience and enable businesses to adapt to CX trends. Let's talk about how.
Gartner's 4 top CX trends and how the best cloud based call center solutions can handle them
When it comes to CX, Gartner is a well-respected thought leader. In January 2022 in an article titled "Four Trends Executives Must Consider To Drive CX Excellence in 2022 and Beyond," they published what they considered some of the top trends in CX:[iii]
- Increasing the capability for customer empathy at all levels of the organization
- Harnessing knowledge from an expanded set of continuous VoC inputs
- Redesigning self-service channels based on new customer need
- Linking the outcomes of EX to CX
Addressing these trends isn't just a job for technology, however cloud based call center solutions can play a prominent role in keeping up with consumer expectations. Let's discuss that concept in more detail by reviewing each trend individually.
Trend 1 - Increasing the capability for customer empathy at all levels of the organization
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person's shoes so you can understand what they're feeling. It's an important element for making personal connections with other people and making them feel well treated, and it is becoming increasingly important to CX. In fact, one study found that 70% of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are treated.[iv]
In contact centers, it's critical for agents to have strong soft skills such as empathy. These soft skills can be taught and should make up a good portion of onboarding and ongoing training agendas. If you need help putting together training materials, we've developed content, including an empathy mapping exercise, that you can download and use for free.
Many times, agents need help with soft skills outside of the classroom, and that's where the best cloud based call center solutions can help. Supervisors can't monitor every call and coach agents about every interaction, but AI-powered real-time interaction guidance software can.
Real-time interaction guidance tools listen to every voice interaction and analyze what customers and agents are saying and how they're saying it. The tool focuses on cues such as keywords, volume, pauses, and pace to determine customers’ emotions and whether agents are appropriately using soft skills. If the system thinks the agent needs to use more soft skills - for example, show more empathy - the agent will receive a prompt. This in the moment coaching helps agents deliver the types of empathetic, personal experiences customers want.
Trend 2 - Harnessing knowledge from an expanded set of continuous VoC input
Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs rely on large quantities of data to gain insights about customer preferences, attitudes, expectations, and what they experience when interacting with the brand. With more data from more sources, businesses are able to gain a more holistic view of the customer.
VoC efforts were previously limited to empirical data such as from customer surveys and operational systems that painted an incomplete portrait of the customer. However, with advancements in artificial intelligence, rich sources of unstructured information - including customer service interactions - can now be efficiently collected and analyzed.
Contact centers that use industry-leading cloud based call center solutions can harvest data from all interactions, transform them into customer insights, and share them across the organization to make VoC programs stronger.
Tools such as AI-powered interaction analytics can analyze all interactions in all voice and digital channels in near real time. It uses factors such as keywords and speech characteristics to determine:
- Customer sentiment
- Contact drivers
- Trending topics
- Emerging issues
When analyzed together, these variables provide insights about how customers are feeling and what is driving that sentiment.
Trend 3 - Redesigning self-service channels based on new customer need
Self-service is becoming more important than ever as a viable way for people to take care of their own matters. Most resolution journeys begin with an attempt to self-serve, and our recent research found that self-service grew by a weighted year over year average of 37% in 2021.[v]
If you're still not convinced about the importance of self-service, consider these additional statistics:
- 81% of consumers want more self-service[vi]
- 84% of consumers are more willing to do business with companies that offer self-service options[vii]
As you can see from the graphic, businesses need to improve their self-service offerings. This next statistic points to one way to do that: 36% of consumers say that it's important to them that self-service solutions become smarter.[viii]
Smarter self-service empowers customers to complete even more tasks on their own. But how do businesses make their self-service channels smarter? By infusing them with artificial intelligence and integrating them with automation solutions.
Natural language processing (NLP), a form of AI, enables tools such as IVRs and virtual agents to interact with users in natural language. With an IVR that uses NLP, a caller simply needs to state what they're trying to do, enabling them to avoid lengthy menus. This not only creates a more natural experience; it also enables the IVR to handle more transaction types, especially if it's integrated with backend automation.
Automation also makes self-service "smarter" by enabling end-to-end transactions. Automation can facilitate tasks such as activating a new debit card or mobile phone or opening an insurance claim with 100% accuracy, no humans required. The lack of automation capabilities limits the types of transactions self-service solutions can handle and can make them appear not so smart.
Trend 4 - Linking the outcomes of EX (employee experience) to CX
"Happy agent, happy customer" is a common saying in contact centers. Wise customer service leaders know that satisfied agents will deliver better experiences, and this wisdom is backed by research. For example, research by MIT CISR revealed that organizations that care about employee well-being have customer satisfaction scores two times higher than organizations that don't focus on employee well-being.[ix]
An agent's job can be stressful. Burnout and high attrition are common in contact centers. Improving the agent experience by removing friction and streamlining workflows is an effective way to increase satisfaction, improve efficiency, reduce stress, and ultimately enhance CX.
A good way to reduce friction is by replacing outdated legacy systems with modern, cloud based call center solutions. We're asking a lot from our agents and their performance has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, so they need the right tools for the job.
One of many things industry-leading solutions can offer is a unified agent desktop. A unified desktop puts everything an agent needs in a single user interface. This can include interaction channels, performance dashboards, CRM systems, knowledge bases, and numerous backend systems. This eliminates the annoying and distracting need to toggle through multiple applications and allows agents to focus on satisfying customers rather than navigating inefficient workflows.
The automation tools we previously discussed can also have a positive impact on the agent experience. Automation isn't just for self-service; it can fundamentally improve the nature of an agent's job. Too many agents' days are filled with soul-sucking, mundane tasks. When these repetitive tasks are automated, it can make an agent's job more engaging.
Find out more about how the best cloud based call center solutions can help your organization react to CX trends without missing a beat
NICE CXone is the market leading call center software in use by thousands of customers of all sizes around the world. To see our award-winning cloud software in action, watch our product demo.
[iv] Customer Think: Why do Customer Experience and Conversational AI go hand in hand? (2021)
[ix] MIT CISR: EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE: ENABLING YOUR FUTURE WORKFORCE STRATEGY (2018)