2017 has been a year of major changes in the contact center market. There have been more acquisitions than in any year I can remember. There have also been more partnerships announced, which have at least in part been enabled by the advance of cloud-based systems. The move to the cloud has continued apace, along with the addition of new capabilities that allow employees to access systems from mobile devices. Vendors have of course announced many updates to existing systems, as well as exciting new developments around technologies such as video, collaboration, artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analysis and bots. Moreover, several new vendors have popped out of the woodwork with innovative new products.
A few years ago, we carried out benchmark research into customer service best practices. A key element of the research was to compare the approaches of the nearly three-fifths (58%) of organizations that described themselves as very customer-focused and the remaining two-fifths (42%) that are not so focused on their customers.
At the recent Zuora Subscribed17 London event, Founder and CEO Tien Tzuo took about 10 minutes to demonstrate that over the last 12 months the subscription economy has grown considerably and assert that Zuora is committed to supporting organizations that make the transition to such a business model. The numbers Tzuo presented were impressive but more striking still was the understanding that emerged during the event and at a lunch for analysts of the nature of the transition companies are going through: software companies moving from on-premises to cloud-based models, a major industrial vehicles-for-hire company moving from renting out machines to providing subscription-based services so the organization hiring the vehicles knows exactly what the machines are up to and how to get best value out of them, a car manufacturer moving to renting cars on a subscription basis based on miles driven, a utility company increasingly automating people’s homes, and a real estate firm providing access to legal advice and mortgage experts as needed.
A lot is being written and said about the omnichannel customer experience and the role contact center agents play in providing such experiences. From the customer’s perspective, I think it boils down to four things: that the interaction is easy, personal to them, within the context of the relationship and previous interactions, and consistent no matter with whom or what technology they interact. From the agent or user’s perspective, it should be easy to find the information needed to resolve the interaction to the customer’s satisfaction, and he or she must be empowered to resolve any issues that arise.
Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows the telephone is far from dead as a channel of customer engagement. Although the research shows other channels are likely to grow more quickly over the next two years, nearly half (46%) of organizations said they expect to see significant or some growth in the volume of calls they need to handle. So, as well as supporting additional digital channels of engagement, organizations must ensure the way they handle calls meets customer expectations. Primarily this means that there are no delays, voice quality is good and customers get consistent responses no matter who they engage with.