Fully-Digital Contact Center

In the recent past, digital was seen as an optional part of “business as usual.”

Currently, however, digital has become so integral to the way people work, communicate, and interact, that it’s no longer an optional part of “business as usual,” but rather its defining feature.

As Lindsey Anderson and Irving Wladawsky-Berger argue in their Harvard Business Review article, The 4 Things It Takes to Succeed in a Digital Economy, “The tail has become the dog. Digital is not just part of the economy — it is the economy.”

The in digital customer care — also known as e-care — is being driven by customers who are already using digital platforms to research and review products and, depending on their experience with these products, to publicly praise or criticize them via social media.

E-care involves the transition from service models based almost entirely on manned service counters and traditionally run call centers with live representatives, to digital services via web-based user accounts, social networks, mobile phone, the Internet, and increasingly automated contact centers.

At KOVA, we’ve got extensive experience in guiding businesses in the transition to fully operational digital contact centers. The advantages of adopting e-care are worth the effort, and practically every consumer-facing industry that requires extensive customer-relationship management — from financial services to consumer electronics to healthcare and utilities — can benefit.

Digital customer service also provides superior customer satisfaction.

Research from Deloitte found that “76% of telecommunications customers are satisfied with a customer service journey that is fully digital, compared with 57% satisfaction for interactions through traditional channels. When you consider that migration to e-care can, in our experience, reduce call volumes and operating expenses by 25 to 30 percent, its benefits seem obvious.”

But, Deloitte cautions, “These statistics mask the fact that few purchase journeys or service interactions are handled entirely digitally: while 41% of service interactions with telecommunications companies begin on an e-care platform, just 15% are digital from start to finish.”

These statistics alone demonstrate that a truly digital contact center isn’t just a matter of stacking digital options on top of a non-digital foundation of service offerings or product choices. Just as a major product launch or strategic initiative must be executed only with intensive planning and cross-organizational coordination and support, so too must the transition from traditional channels to digital customer care be approached as an incremental, multi-stage undertaking.

What follows are some strategic considerations and guidelines for this transitional process:

  1. Develop a deep understanding of the complete customer experience and how this translates to various channels and platforms. Managing customer care has become increasingly complex with multiple channels and platforms for contact and communication. Determining the best way to use each means understanding the end-to-end customer experience and aligning the service issue with the proper channel as well as with the demographic. (For example, older customers can be disoriented and frustrated by online problem-resolution channels while Millennials are more likely to be angered by the lack of them.)It’s important to know the proper etiquette for different channels. Live customer service representatives follow different etiquette than customer service agents communicating with customers through a strictly digital medium. Because the transition to digital inevitably involves social media, understanding social media etiquette and lingo is fundamental to running a digital contact center. And because contact centers are becoming more dependent on new advanced technologies, the right technology can improve your results and save costs, while technology that’s a bad fit can cause damage.
  2. Run comprehensive diagnostics to accurately identify what’s not working and why. Assume the perspective of your customers and conduct an inventory of your current e-care operations – specifically, what digital functionalities you offer and how you offer them. Often, problems are hiding in plain sight that haven’t been seen since they weren’t be actively looked for. For example, one telecommunications company realized that not only had it failed to attend to some basic functionalities, but that the user-friendliness of its online services was so poor that it was actually driving customer complaints to its call center rather than decreasing than.

Auditing your customer service requests through speech analytics can also be illuminating. One company found that although there were a 2,000 different reasons for customers to contact a call center, only 60 problems (a mere 3% of the total) comprised 65% percent of call volume and 55% of costs. Further, just 15 of these 60 problems had an online solution. The implications for this were that designing online solutions for the remaining 45 priority issues could potentially cut the company’s call volume and costs by as much as half.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post!

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