Last week, IMImobile attended the Future of the Contact Centre conference 2017 in London, garnering some fantastic insights into the concerns and questions of customer engagement professionals and attending some fascinating talks from all walks of e-commerce.
“Omni-channel” and “automation” were the key terms honed in on by speakers. The crucial question is, are brands getting any closer to being comfortable with what omni-channel and automation mean for them – and how can they mould the next evolution of their customer contact strategy around them? Here are our top five takeaways from the event.
1. Attitudes to messaging do differ by age – but not by as much as you think. Age does affect the choice of channel – but the older generation is increasingly adopting digital channels. In fact, research from last year shows that 1 in 3 UK consumers aged over 65 preferred digital channels – including web chat, social media and mobile apps – to more traditional contact methods. One speaker at the event reported that a focus group showed Facebook Messenger may in fact be the channel of choice for older consumers.
2. The speed of change is unprecedented – and it’s not slowing down any time soon. A key concern for customer contact centre managers is how to deal with the speed of change, the volume of messages, and the number of channels. With new messaging channels springing up on a regular basis and attracting billions of new users, the new world is unpredictable; no one knows what the next customer contact route will be – and you’ll probably never have heard of it.
3. The customer is now in control of when and how they interact with you – and it’s whenever and however they want. This should be considered a positive thing, as it means there are more touchpoints to provide a delightful customer experience. As a brand, you may be concerned about the cost and viability of listening and communicating on an increasing number of channels (nine on average already, according to Dimension Data’s latest Global Benchmarking Report), but your customers are already there, talking about you (and your competitors), and few businesses can afford not to be in on the conversation.
4. Embrace transformation to be truly agile and customer-centric. Business processes need to be both nimble and centred around customer preferences. This may mean changes to your core business, IT, management and team structures – and your call centres. The era of clunky, single-channel tools, endless monotonous queries and uninspiring offices is coming to an end. With nearly half of customers now reportedly only calling contact centres when their enquiry is complex, the contact centre of the future will focus on helping agents become experts in their products – and it will make the most of agents’ personal strengths to increase job satisfaction and motivation. Employing chatbots to field more basic enquiries is one way to enable agents to spend more time on skilled, rewarding work, and resolve complex customer issues more quickly.
5. Automation is about more than answering basic queries. Virtual assistants, or chatbots, can interact in a variety of languages, understand natural language and use sentiment analysis to determine the emotional state of a customer. Even more powerfully, they can integrate with a huge range of third-party services via APIs, allowing them to instantly access data and provide appropriate actions – whether that’s booking an appointment, taking payments, validating tickets or cross-/up-selling. Plus, they can provide powerful insight into the customer engagement process via bot-specific analytics.
How could IMImobile help your business?
IMImobile empowers companies to communicate across multiple customer channels (from Voice to Facebook Messenger), while integrating seamlessly with your existing systems. Our enterprise-level chatbots are already transforming the customer engagement strategy of major brands, and our end-to-end service means you could be up and running in no time.