Digital transformation in the contact centre

Transformation of any kind across an organisation isn’t easy. In fact, around 75% of all large-scale change programmes fail. In today’s era, many of those transformations are to adopt more digital processes within an organisation – and the customer service sector is definitely not immune to this. Pretty much any business selling a service has a contact centre – and there’s over 6,000 of them in the UK alone.

Digital transformation can dramatically alter every aspect of customer service – as well as having a huge and positive impact on cost. By adopting digital transformation technologies and strategies, you can reduce the peoplepower and money spent on contact operations with the introduction of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Chatbots. So, the benefits are obvious.

Chat away

Chatbots are getting increasingly closer to mimicking human speech. They are giving pauses, applying cadences and stresses to their responses and various other tricks to make them more authentic. However, we know that this closeness isn’t enough to fool everyone and, in many instances, can lead to the ‘uncanny valley’ that drives rejection and potentially even revulsion.

This has led to the direct rejection of trying to imitate reality and some successful chatbots do identify themselves as such. And why not if they still get the job done! Bots can do some simple things very well, such as supporting self-serve of bills or Q&A activity. So, there’s no need to disguise that is there?

All talk and no action

There’s no point in having all the latest technology up front if your processes behind the scenes are not up to speed too. Siloed processes, poor communication and slow-to-fix methods will cripple your business and destroy your customer’s faith in getting the job done or the problem resolved. This is likely to just lead to increased complaints, which defeats the whole object of digital transformation. RPA, the utilisation of bots to record and automate user activity and generate repeatable business processes, is less directly impacting on front-line customer experience. But it can play a fundamental role in aligning back-office operations to front-office experience delivery.

However, using RPA to cut people-power cost out of the workforce can potentially be very dangerous. If you cut too harshly, you inevitably lose the technical knowhow and problem-solving that supports keeping your promises to customers. It can detract from the Human Element of customer service, which is so important within the digital era. So, digital transformation needed to be something which puts the people, not costs, first.

Move with the times

New channels and technologies have made it easier than ever before to focus your people on tasks that require human interaction. But they have also provided the customer with an always-on, instant response expectation.

Learning how to navigate this digital world in a way that is responsive to customer need is key to a digital transformation programme that drives better experiences. The sweet spot is embracing digital channels and technology to provide a seamless blend of chat-bots that support low effort service experience and empowered, specialised and supported agents that can pick up where a chat-bot can’t deliver – such as on the complex or emotionally-charged customer enquiries.

That’s not to say a more efficient yet less populous contact centre is a bad thing. Reducing costs with better First Contact Resolution, better self-serve and free marketing via customer advocacy are great ways to move to a leaner organisation. But, fixing customer issues and delivering an emotional differentiator needs to be the primary goal over not fixing any technology issues or reducing cost through arbitrary deflection strategies.

A great digital enabler which supports both employees and customers are systems, such as knowledge bases and CRMs, which ensure that all data is accurate and available without the need to go looking for it. Reduce the chances of agents getting confused and the chances of incorrect information being held on your systems and you increase the agent’s ability to personalise the customer experience. For example, they will be able to see previous issues and resolutions for each customer so they can confidently move forward to benefit both the customer and your business.

Digital transformation is tricky, there’s no doubt about that. But, businesses should work towards enhancing their customer focus, have a digital strategy which helps agents, and utilise the right technology to support their business. Those are the businesses which will succeed over those who are using technology as a magic bullet to their business operations.

BPA Quality are the experts in providing high-quality customer service across a number of channels. Contact us to find out more.