No, Five9 doesn’t have a bunch of Jedi or Sith Lords running around the office. But, in honor of Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you), I wanted to share the cultural impact I’ve experienced with Star Wars and Five9 employees, adding to the fun work environment.
At our old Five9 headquarters, there was a section of the office called the “dark side.” The name of that section of cubicles derived from the fact that the office lights were turned off during the majority of office hours. And, only lights from the computer screens and individual desk lamps provided illumination. To lighten up the spirits of the office, (pun intended) a longtime employee (still with us today), decided to give all the Support Engineers in the “dark side” a Darth Vader mask, embracing the way of the Sith. This was all before Star Wars Day was even a thing. I would say that was just the beginning of camaraderie you find at Five9.
Today we have many employees at the current headquarters that are Star Wars aficionados. We left our “dark side” behind us at the old office. We have an employee that owns an actual Storm Trooper suit, and others owning models of Millennium Falcons and Tie Fighters. We even have an employee with a recent birthday that received a Death Star/X-Wing Balloon.
You can’t put a price on having co-workers that you enjoy working with and also coming together by having many things in common like Star Wars. The force is strong at Five9, may the force be with you!
Publish Date: May 4, 2017 5:00 AM
Gartner has researched CEO’s around the world to find out “What are your top technology investment areas?” One of the top results was Customer Experience Management. In fact, Des Cahill, Head CX Evangelist at Oracle, mentioned he’s seen over 4,500 companies around the globe have appointed a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) reporting directly to the CEO. The importance of customer experience for a business and many other digital transformation topics were discussed last week while I was at Oracle Modern Customer Experience (CX) Conference.
What a difference a year makes, last year I was at this very same conference and it’s always meaningful to network with peers, learn from prospects, connect with customers, and collaborate with our Oracle partners. Last year I attended Mark Hurd’s keynote, the CEO of Oracle, and it was great to hear his focus on customer experience directly aligns with Five9’s perspective on modern consumers and customer loyalty. This year my experience with Oracle’s CEO was much different. The Five9 team networking with Mark Hurd at dinner during the conference was one for the books. Talk about the ultimate customer experience, not much tops that.
A few other highlights from this conference was seeing the relationship liftoff since last year’s same Modern CX conference. For example, last year my team and I met with prospects at the booth, and over dinner at the many networking events. This year, my team had two of the prospects we met last year (Lululemon and Booker Software) and now Five9 customers, speak on our behalf at the conference. Another example, last year I was introduced to many Oracle SI and ISV partners and discussed how Five9 can team with them to help customers with their CX challenges. This year, we actually held joint customer meetings and events with many of these partners including Directly, OpenMethods, AmberLeaf, Helix, ApexIT, Infolexa, and Eventus. Lastly, last year I met many Oracle reps, sales management, product management, Service Cloud Executives. While this year I met all the same and more (see the picture of Mark Hurd with Five9 and Lululemon above).
It’s great getting the CEO to engage with your customers and truly address their CX challenges. Mark truly has a focus on our customers!
Publish Date: May 2, 2017 5:00 AM
Last month, Congress reintroduced a bill that could deter certain companies from sending call center jobs over seas.
The United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 would make certain offshoring call center companies ineligible for grants or guaranteed loans from the government.
If the bill is accepted, it will require companies to to notify the Department of Labor at least 120 days before relocating outside the United States. Those who don’t will be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 per day. Once a company is blacklisted by the Department of Labor, they will remain on the list for up to three years after each relocation and remain ineligible for federal grants or federal guaranteed loans for five years. Furthermore, the bill will require offshore contact center agents to disclose their physical location to customers and offer the option to transfer to a U.S. based representative.
If you are expanding overseas, plan on relocating your current contact center, or currently have offshore contact centers this bill could impact your growth, finances and general practices. It’s important that you take notice now and prepare for the worst.
The structure of your contact center, your overall strategy and infrastructure will dictate the impact of this and future policies. Globalization continually faces off with nationalism, and the political rules and regulations may create about-face reactions from companies. It’s easy to get caught off guard.
Cloud contact centers have a clear advantage in the crossfire of this policy war. On-premise contact centers aren’t just relocating employees when they move locations; they have hardware and software baggage as well as carrier agreements to consider.
In a volatile process of up- and down-scaling contact centers internationally, cloud companies have the benefit of adding and removing agents at will. They can restructure their routing systems to accommodate new policy and deploy broadly without many boots on the ground. Cloud contact centers give companies the ability to shift resources and manage from a single, universal dashboard. It’s just one more strong case for enterprise companies to consider cloud contact centers.
Outbound call centers will remain under-fire for selling across borders. Too many scams and black hat call centers overseas have bled into U.S. territory. Similarly, inbound call centers are embroiled in controversy around lack of “local” and “informed” support. It has taxed American patience, and congress has taken notice.
The U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection Act isn’t a sure thing, but this isn’t the first time it’s been proposed, and lawmakers on both sides of the table have made it clear that they plan to crack down on offshoring. Companies with a clear and dynamic strategy, flexible contact center infrastructure and smart management systems will have a significant advantage if this bill passes.
Publish Date: April 4, 2017 5:00 AM
It starts with a vision. For Five9 our vision is “great customer experiences every time.” Every day our employees around the world focus on this vision and every action is based on our customers.
While it’s good to feel like we are doing a great job taking care of our customers, the true validation is how our customers feel we are doing. We recently noticed many Five9 customers posting product reviews on a website called Trustpilot. After analyzing the reviews we found some trends. The top three trends found from these reviews are:
Click here to see more Five9 reviews on Trustpilot or to leave your own review.
Publish Date: March 29, 2017 5:00 AM
Netflix users, don’t you love when you sign on to your account and see a list of suggested shows to watch?
For me, the shows are always right in line with what I enjoy watching. After several years as a Netflix account holder, it’s safe to say that Netflix knows me, and I’m a loyal customer. They have done an excellent job creating a positive customer journey to ensure my brand loyalty. Netflix has a constant and continuous relationship with me as a customer. What drives our relationship? Great analytics and a seamless customer journey.
A positive customer journey is what we all work towards – both customer and company. And customers both actively and passively hint at what their ideal journey looks like. In order to craft the perfect journey, businesses need to see all the ways customers are communicating their wants and interests. With the right contact center software, business can track when a customer is interacting with their brand. Customer journey tools can alert companies as to the best way to steer the customer and help guide them through the journey.
To successfully map a customer journey, companies need to have full transparency, starting with a customer’s initial interaction on the website. Companies need analytics that drill into all the nuanced actions a customer takes with indicators of when and where it’s important for the company to step in. Once a company has complete visibility of what customers are doing, they can use proactive outreach, and step-in in a relevant way, so that the customer feels welcome.
It’s not easy. Customers often don’t just linearly move through one channel when interacting with a company. They may call, email, text, chat, tweet or interact with a brand in numerous other ways. Customer journey tools must stitch together all these highly relevant touch points for a full understanding of the customer wants.
Why? Analytics fuel recommendations and become better prediction engines when they have all the data.
Without all the pieces, a company can’t see the full picture and their recommendation engine becomes flawed. The more data a company collects across channels, the easier they can recognize choke points and purchase obstacles.
Remember: Customer journeys have a starting point, but not an ending point. Good relationships require constant management, and that starts the moment a customer begins research on your website, and continues to influence their journey throughout their lifecycle.
To learn more about customer journey management, I will be speaking on this topic during a panel session at Enterprise Connect on March 29th at 1pm. The panel is being lead by Frost & Sullivan’s Melanie Turek, and I will join other industry thought leaders to answer key questions such as:
I’m looking forward to discussing this topic with other industry leaders and learn from their take on experience with customer journey management in contact centers.
Publish Date: March 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Do you respect your customers’ time? When it comes to customer service and customer engagement, does your contact center deploy technologies and solutions that reduce the time that customers wait on hold, speak with an agent, wait for a response, or get their issues resolved?
How can businesses provide a great customer engagement experience that lets customers know that they are truly valued and that their time is respected? We’ve been hearing about First Call Resolution (FCR) for several years, but how about taking that one step further to “Real Time Resolution?” On Wednesday March 29 at 3:00, I’ll be at the Five9 booth at Enterprise Connect talking about ways to achieve Real-Time Resolution, notably:
Moving to Real-Time Resolution Using Subject Matter Experts
In most cases, contact center agents have the information and knowledge they need to provide an answer or resolve an issue when a customer calls or contacts them. However, over 10% of all telephone inquiries handled by contact center agents require some sort of assistance from subject matter experts in various parts of the organization. For example, an agent may need to reach out to a product specialist to answer a technical question about a product, or to someone in marketing about a new promotion. Generally, when the agent doesn’t have the information they need, they either put the customer on hold or tell the customer that they’ll call them back after they get the information, in which time the customer may go to a competitor instead. The result is lengthy calls and multiple customer interactions, which can be costly to the organization.
Today, with the use of UC tools like presence and IM, when an agent needs to get additional information in order to answer a customer’s question, they can use presence to see which subject matter experts are available, and send an IM to ask an available expert for information while on the call with the customer.
This is made possible when contact center solutions are integrated with UC solutions. For example, by integrating Five9’s Virtual Contact Center with Microsoft Skype for Business, contact center agents can identify and connect with the necessary experts to answer customers’ questions in real time while the customer is still on the line.
Moving to Real-Time Resolution Using Web Engagement
These days, if a customer or consumer has a question, needs support, or wants to purchase something, they begin their journey on a company’s website. Companies can turn these experiences into real-time interactions resulting in real-time resolution with the use of web engagement, omnichannel, and customer journey analytics tools. Using tools that gather and analyze a customer’s activity as they browse a company’s website, the agent can view the customer’s activity on their screen in real time as the customer moves from page to page and proactively reach out to the customer to initiate a chat interaction. Proactively reaching out to the customer, saves the customer time searching for information, providing real-time resolution. In addition, it prevents the customer from having to call in to the contact center, which is more costly to the organization.
Respecting Your Customers’ Time While Making Your Customers Happier Faster
Your customers’ time is valuable, and serving your customers more quickly and effectively through the use of subject matter experts and proactive web engagement will lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as increased sales and revenues. Why settle for first contact resolution when you can have real time resolution?
Come to Five9’s booth at Enterprise Connect on Wednesday, March 29 at 3:00 to hear more about ways to achieve Real-Time Resolution.
Publish Date: March 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Those first three reasons are not new but need to be repeated. Daily. Emblazoned on a plaque in every contact center. Embroidered on a pillow on an overstuffed couch. Tweeted twice a day with a picture of a sunrise.
What is the easiest way to create a great customer experience to hopefully help brand loyalty? It is listening and offering personalization. As written in a recent Forbes article, really hearing the customer and their challenge, and responding quickly, directly and smartly, makes all the difference to the experience a customer may have.
A recent blog by my colleague Liz Pedro quoted a statistic from the 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report that stated 62% of buyers rely more on peer recommendations than anything else. Frankly, I find that low, especially if it’s a negative recommendation. Don’t you?
Impacting the bottom line
As customer experience authority Jeanne Bliss says, “If you want customer experience to be just another silo or a cost center, do it the way you’ve always done it.”
Customer service has evolved a lot in a short time. One of the biggest groups of consumers today wouldn’t even think of dialing an 800 number to solve a problem. (I’m looking at you millennials.) The key is to be available to your customers, where they expect you to be. I think it can be easy to create and execute ideas in a bubble if we’re not careful. The best way to know what our customers want, is by listening to them. Are you listening to yours?
Publish Date: March 7, 2017 5:00 AM
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the future of customer experience (CX). Having machines that predict what customers do can only help CX, right? On the face of it, yes. However, more goes into predicting the realities of customer behavior. Unfortunately, history shows we are not good at that.
AI is essential for CX if it includes vital principles from behavioral economics. In particular, AI should factor in how psychology affects people’s behavior as customers. AI must also embrace the idea that irrational thinking inspired by emotion has a much more influential role in the decision-making process than most people believe. Neglect these, and AI could be wearing the CX Dunce Cap.
The Big Hole in Big Data
Before AI, experts said big data would influence the future of customer interactions. Sentiment analysis showed everyone was keen to exploit what big data could do for CX.
However, there is a big hole in big data. Big data collects information about how customers shop, click and work, but it doesn’t tell you WHY, which is critical to predicting future behavior. Big data neglects the psychological, emotional and subconscious influences driving customer behavior. Without this deeper explanation of why people do what they do, the information big data provides is superficial.
The big data problem also represents my concerns with AI. While I agree AI could improve CX, it won’t succeed without consideration of how customers feel during the experience. AI programming in new technology must address WHY people do what they do.
The Importance of Understanding the WHY of Customer Behavior
For years I have said emotions account for more than half of a CX. Emotions influence customer behavior in a myriad of ways. I always explain that people do what they do because of principles revealed in behavioral economics.
Our psychology and resulting reactions affect customers decision-making process. People make irrational decisions all the time. We conserve our energy by using cognitive shortcuts to make decisions that work pretty well most of the time. These processes are influenced by our irrational feelings, which we then tidy up afterward with rational thinking.
For AI and CX, one must also understand the psychological, emotional and subconscious influences involved. One must have a robust understanding of how customers felt when they acted to predict with accuracy what action they will take next time.
I am a Star Trek fan. “The Next Generation” had an AI robot called “Data.” He was intelligent – far more than most humans – but he could not understand why his fellow space travelers did what they did. Why? Emotions were not programmed into his software. For “Data,” emotions did not compute. We need to understand that people buy emotionally and justify with logic. Unless AI can start doing that, it is doomed for failure in CX.
AI Must Learn from Behavioral Economics
Most organizations don’t have a skill set for understanding all of the influences on customer behavior. Companies relying on big data don’t realize that no one has information on customer feelings. So they suffer from a superficial analysis of their customers’ behavior. It’s big data, but with little depth.
AI could suffer the same fate if it also doesn’t embrace the irrational nature of human behavior. Assuming humans make rational decisions the majority of the time, discounting the emotional state that people are in when they make buying decisions, and forgetting that people are at their core intent on conserving energy could leave AI with the same analytical holes big data fails to fill for CX. AI will also have the same shallow understanding of the WHY of human behavior, which can lead to a CX that leaves people thinking “WHAT?”
However, if AI programming begins to include the principles revealed in behavioral economics pertaining to CX, it could succeed where big data and humans have failed. In other words, AI needs to embrace the irrational nature of human behavior – even if it does not compute.
To learn more about how to improve the customer experience for your business, visit Five9.
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of six best-selling books and an engaging keynote speaker & also recognized as one of the original top 150 Business Influencers by LinkedIn. Beyond Philosophy provides consulting, specialized research & training from their headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX
Publish Date: March 6, 2017 5:00 AM
Founded in 1996, Englishtown is the world’s leading online English language school that provides courses to 20 million students in 80 countries. The company’s 300 seat contact center located in Monterrey, Mexico handles more than 500,000 inbound/outbound calls per month. In 2013 while their contact center had grown staff at triple digit rates, they were struggling with an old, featureless call center system and poor agent productivity.
The school’s legacy system was premise-based and very rudimentary. Agents had to hand-dial calls, and supervisors couldn’t get any information on call volume or call disposition. “So much time was spent trying to contact customers,” explained Hiram Zamora, sales intelligence specialist at Englishtown. “Sometimes agents had to make five calls just to get someone on the phone.”
Englishtown knew they had to make a change. The school chose Five9 because it offered all the capabilities they needed, including a blended inbound/outbound platform with predictive dialing and a host of other features, including call recording, reporting tools, IVR functionality, and scalability. And best of all it was cloud-based.
In just one month, Five9 gave Englishtown agents the tools to accelerate outbound speed by over 40 percent. According to Zamora, the boost in speed is helping Englishtown realize big gains in its closing rates. The Salesforce integration Englishtown Mexico had sought also contributed to the acceleration in calls. Agents now have the ability to dial prospects with a single click without leaving the Salesforce environment. “Because Five9 integrates with Salesforce, our agents can view customer information as soon as they connect on a call,” Zamora said.
Read the rest of the Englishtown story, here.
Publish Date: February 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Traditionally, customer service departments have been slower to adopt change than other areas of business – but today’s empowered consumers have higher expectations and businesses need to adopt new technologies and solutions that are readily accessible in order to satisfy modern consumers. It’s critical that brands regularly seek innovation and embrace new ideas in order to be cutting edge in the ways they offer service. Customers are becoming increasingly comfortable using technology and they expect customer service agents to be able to deliver seamless, top notch service regardless of the channel they are using – voice, chat, video, social, etc. To cater to these evolving consumer needs and beat out their competition, Five9 customers continue to strive to create exceptional customer experiences.
At Five9, we look to address these ever-changing needs through continuous innovation. One of the areas of innovation that we focus on is customer experience and it centers on three key words that help Five9 be an innovative leader: predictive, proactive and personalized. Today’s modern consumers expect that their favorite brands embrace these practices and bring them into each service interaction and Five9 helps our customers deliver in and exceed these customer expectations.
These three P’s go hand in hand with innovative customer service. We’ve already made great strides in enhancing our Virtual Contact Center with predictive, proactive and personalized capabilities in order to enable our customers to make powerful connections with their consumers and its Five9’s commitment to continue innovating in these areas.
We are proud that the Business Intelligence Group recognized Five9 for our innovation in customer service in their 2017 BIG Innovation Award program. This program recognizes companies that have brought new ideas to life that have a positive impact on customers. We think that offering a predictive, proactive and personalized customer experience is just the start and there is much more ahead in terms of what a truly seamless and modern brand-consumer relationship looks like. So stay tuned to continue hearing about how Five9 is the leader in contact center technology when it comes to innovation and forward-looking solutions.
Publish Date: February 17, 2017 5:00 AM
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, a time where friends, family, and loved ones put extra thought into showing how they care about you. February 14th doesn’t have to be a romantic day; it can be a day where you impress your work colleagues with a thoughtful gesture. So why not take the step and show some love in your contact center?
Contact center agents are aware of the tough job ahead of them each day. They are the face of the company when a customer speaks with them over phone, email, web chat, etc. The impression the agent gives the customer is extremely important to the business. Customer experience is viewed as a competitive differentiator to 62% of organizations, according to the Deloitte Contact Center Survey. There’s no better time than this holiday to show your agents some love. Here are a few ways to empower the contact center agents by giving them the tools they need to succeed:
1. Provide your agents with a single screen for customer interactions.
According to an ICMI survey, 50% of contact centers don’t provide agents with the basic customer information and agents spend 14% of their time looking for information across disparate systems. When an agent has all their tools within one screen, they are able to access the information they need at a much faster pace.
2. Give agents insights to resolve customer issues in one call.
82% of consumers say the number one factor that leads to a great customer service experience is having their issues resolved quickly (LivePerson). When agents can view rich insights of a customer profile they can tailor conversations to deliver a more personalized service.
3. Create a seamless agent experience over multiple channels.
74% of consumers use three or more channels for customer interactions according to Ovum. And with customer service channels on the rise (Forrester): Online chat adoption 58%, Mobile/SMS 38%, Twitter 37%, agents need to be able to switch over but still have the same experience regardless of the channel they are using. Only 48% of agents today can support customers over multiple channels, however consumer expectations are much higher than that. Accenture survey says “73% of consumers become frustrated when providers fail to offer convenient interaction methods.”
Contact center agents need to be shown some love, and Valentine’s Day seems like a perfect day to start giving them the right tools they need to deliver great customer experiences.
How are others showing the love in their contact centers on Valentine’s Day and everyday?
Love your agents #ValentinesDayIn3Words
â€” Five9, Inc. (@Five9) February 9, 2017
Publish Date: February 13, 2017 5:00 AM
Last week Sheila McGee-Smith presented at the Five9 2017 Sales Kickoff discussing her insights about the contact center industry and the upcoming forecast for this year. After her presentation we had a quick conversation, diving a little deeper into the contact center.
In case you missed it, click here to read Part 1 of this interview.
Q: By what year do you think 50% of customer experiences will be happening on mobile?
A: For certain demographic groups, that shift may have already occurred. Today’s 20-somethings are undoubtedly already there.
Q: What predictions do you have regarding Artificial Intelligence and bots when it comes to contact centers?
A: I think in 2016 that the hype began for Artificial Intelligence and bots. 2017 will continue the hype but we will likely have the inevitable disillusionment as companies realize it’s not as easy as turning on an application, but collection and integration of a variety of data sources will be required. Artificial Intelligence is going to take time. We’ve seen the beginning with IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein but I believe we’re still at the pure technology phase. It will take time before real applications are deployed at real companies.
Q: What do you see as Five9’s biggest strengths in the contact center space?
1.Five9 has made major headway in cloud infrastructure, globalization, product and marketing in the last year.
2.Three months after the latest Gartner Contact Center as a Service Magic Quadrant was published, Five9 remains the only independent market leader.
3.A big differentiator for Five9 is that the customer journey is tightly integrated into the agent desktop. This empowers agents with context they need to better understand the steps customers have already taken before speaking to the agent.
Publish Date: February 1, 2017 5:00 AM
A great contact center is at the heart of a great customer experience.
Consumer expectations keep evolving. Imagine how you handled a customer service issue 10 years ago versus what you would do today. For that reason, it is crucial to the success of your business to keep up with those changing consumer expectations to help create brand loyalty and increase customer satisfaction. Here are three pillars to guide your business’ service strategy for the modern consumers:
1.Make it easy for customers to do business with you.
Customers want to interact with your business in a variety of ways: email, chat, social, voice, mobile. According to Ovum, 74 percent of consumers use three or more channels for customer interactions. Having the technology to support these channels is going to make it easy for your customers to communicate with you. With all of these channels at most consumers’ fingertips, being available to interact on each one, at any given moment, is very important to provide the most satisfying customer experience.
2.Capture and use key consumer data.
When you have visibility into the customer’s journey, you’re able to better understand the potential outcomes. By capturing this data you can anticipate the customer needs and behaviors in order to proactively resolve an issue before it even arises. Not only is it important to capture the right data, but also equally as important to use that data to create a consistent customer experience throughout the business, yet “only 23 percent of companies say they provide a consistent experience throughout the customer journey.” This statistic is taken from the ICMI Tool Kit, Designing the Modern customer Experience.
3.Create personal, consumer-specific relationships.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise and improving, and we expect to see more of this in the customer service strategy in the near future, however, the human touch still remains an important aspect to nurture these relationships. AI will never be able to replace the personal touch that a human can provide to the consumer. If AI is built into your strategy, determine when it’s the right time for an agent to step in for a complex issue or question.
For more information on modernizing the customer experience for your contact center, download your free copy of this ICMI Tool Kit: Designing the Modern Customer Experience.
Publish Date: January 26, 2017 5:00 AM
It is time to modernize your contact center and you have a lot of options to consider to add to your current phone support. My customers are using email, chat, and social to name a few, so how should I support that? As a contact center leader you have questions about each of these channels. How do each of these channels improve the business? How will these channels help my agents? Will they help my agents? At the end of the day, you want to look back and be confident you made the right decision about the addition to your contact center.
Evolving technology and consumer behaviors suggest adding channels to your contact center strategy. Customers want to contact their favorite brands using the channel that they are most comfortable with on a regular basis. But as a decision maker you need to ask the question: Which is the best channel for my business, operational and service goals, if we are a phone-only call center?
The answer to that question is web chat. Chat is critical to contact centers, and is the clear winner over email and social when it comes to consumer preference. The reason chat is so important today is that phone and chat have a common denominator, and that is the ability to have a conversation back and forth in real time. Email and social channels have become secondary for contact centers as these expectations have evolved. Customers can send an email to a representative and receive a response within 24 hours. The same goes for social media, if not longer, to receive a response. However, chat is a real time solution with the back and forth communication a customer is expecting.
The best way to be efficient and also provide a great customer experience is to find a solution that has voice, chat, email, and social by one provider. That way the application doesn’t feel like a separate tool, one for voice, a different for chat, and another for email. With one solution agents are familiar with the look and feel, they don’t have to learn new applications, and can be efficient in any channel with consistency across the board. To summarize, here are the key do’s and don’ts when it comes to modernizing your contact center.
To learn more about this topic, I am hosting a webinar with Justin Robbins from ICMI on January 19, 2017 at 10am PT. Register here and reserve your spot today. Join in the conversation #Five9webinar before, during and after.
Publish Date: January 17, 2017 5:00 AM
This article was originally published on VMBlog, here.
2017 Brings the Death of the Contact Center, And the Engagement Center Emerges
The evolution of the customer experience industry is a fascinating movement. Admittedly, it’s been slower than what people have wanted or expected, but I believe that 2017 brings the next evolution of the contact centers — customer engagement centers. With the modern customer using mobile devices and web to control the conversation with businesses, on their terms, noting the final shift of power of customer service into the consumers’ hands. So contact centers as we traditionally know it are becoming a thing of the past. In 2017, be on the lookout for customer engagement centers, which will allow for more than just communicating with consumers. They’ll need to be centers for proactive interactions, analysis, contextualization and more.
Artificial Intelligence Continues to Rise in Customer Service Interactions, But Humans Are Still King
This year we saw customer interactions evolve from traditional question and answer dialogues, to intelligent machines now enhancing the process and experience. Machines are learning patterns and providing answers to customers to help eliminate some of the mundane tasks that customer service agents used to handle; and intelligent machine personas like the Alexa in the Amazon Echo and Siri in various Apple devices, are paving the way. In 2017, we’ll see more capabilities when it comes to artificial intelligence and customer service like Alexa triggering a call from contact center based on a question about online order status, thermostats submitting a trouble ticket after noticing a problem with the heater, or Siri searching through a cable company’s FAQ to answer to a commonly asked question about internet service troubleshooting. However, one thing will always remain true — human interactions will still be critical when dealing with complex situations or to provide the empathy that is needed in customer service.
Companies Will Realize the Customer Service Starting Point Has Changed, And There is No Endpoint
A few years ago, if you needed directions to a new restaurant you were trying, you opened your Maps app and plugged in an address to get you where you needed to go. But now, you’re asking Siri to get you there. In 2017, companies will realize that the starting point of their customer service is changing and requires a more ecosystem approach of sharing data and processes. Consumers won’t necessarily speak directly to a company to initiate the conversation. They will talk to devices and AI-enabled personas. Similarly, companies will realize that there is no endpoint on the customer journey. Historically, it’s been the outcome that’s mattered the most. But in 2017, companies will realize that they will need to participate in a ecosystem to impact the customer’s experience, instead it’s a series of ongoing interactions between the company and customer only.
Consumers Dictate the Next Move, Companies Need to Keep Up or Die
Consumers are smarter and more connected than ever before. If companies don’t provide them with the answers they need, when they need them and in the simplest way possible, they’ll go elsewhere to get them. So in 2017, if brands don’t adopt the right technology to be able to address the needs of today’s modern customer, including multichannel interactions, they’ll risk impacting their bottom lines as customers gravitate to the companies who meet them where they are.
Publish Date: January 3, 2017 5:00 AM