By now, you’ve probably adjusted your contact center strategy and formed new working habits after an unprecedented year of customer service unpredictability and workforce management challenges.
Let’s assume you’ve addressed the fact that 70% of consumers indicate that it is harder to reach someone in customer service than before the pandemic. And you’ve taken into account that 91% of consumers say they have experienced poor customer service in the past 6 months.
Now, as contact center leaders set their sights on 2022, the new challenge will be adopting the right qualities to make contact centers amenable to the shortcomings of the previous year to remain adaptable and scalable.
Given that the modern customer is here to stay, as are the changes created by this year’s events, here are some of the most important qualities contact centers should adopt for success in 2022.
The workforce management challenges of 2021 have made one thing clear: predicting staffing needs and hiring cycles is not only an arduous process, but a virtually impossible task, especially as it relates to hiring agents.
And, it’s not just because there aren’t enough talented agents available to hire – Fortune reports the “Great Resignation” has the economy down 5 million employees from pre-crisis levels – but at the rate most contact centers need to scale, it’s simply unrealistic to expect hiring cycles to align with unpredictable customer demand and seasonality.
While Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) remains a suitable option, truly scalable capacity gives call centers the ability to respond at a moment’s notice to even the most unpredictable spikes in call volumes.
Contact centers should have flexible capacity that is infinitely scalable and only costs money when it’s being used to support their customers.
Conversational AI is one solution, and is akin to having thousands of your best agents on call at any moment. It eliminates hold times, completely resolves tier-1 issues, and often increases CSAT when compared to IVRs and live support.
Conversational AI not only prepares contact centers for volume increases, it prevents overstaffing, which quickly leads to cost overruns, especially in relation to BPOs.
According to “10 New Call Center Trends & Predictions for 2021/2022”, published by the Harvard Business Review, the pandemic has created 68% more call escalations, 50% more difficult calls and 34% longer hold times.
It’s been a year of frustration for customers as hiring shortages caused hold times to skyrocket and supply chain challenges created shipping and ordering chaos. How should contact centers respond?
First and foremost, with empathy and understanding.
Most customers understand that this year’s challenges have been out of most businesses’ control. But to truly empathize with the customer experience, live agents should be focused completely on issues only humans can properly understand so that customers get the empathetic support they need.
Conversational AI personalizes customer interactions to resolve routine, high-volume requests at unprecedented speeds, which frees up live agents to handle high-empathy issues.
This symbiosis between conversational AI and agents means customers get the right level of service for their issue, and agents aren’t bogged down with repetitive requests.
The result? Higher retention rates and satisfaction among both customers and agents.
Today’s customers are busy. Part of their changing expectations is that they can receive assistance whenever and wherever they need it.
The phrase “the best ability is availability” should be a leading mantra for any contact center in 2022. An automation solution with 24/7, 365 capacity means your contact center is always open so customers can get answers at their convenience.
With a solution like conversational AI, customers can place orders, retrieve account documents, register a new product, start a return – the list goes on and on – at any time of the day or week.
Depending on their schedules, customers can also schedule a call-back and conversational AI can execute outbound calls to reach them when it’s most convenient.
Delighting your customers doesn’t have a timestamp, and maximum availability ensures that every time a customer contacts support, they’ll leave with a resolution, not frustrated by inconvenient hold times or unreachable agents.
Deep Customer Insights
In 2022, no customer conversation should go un-analyzed. Contact centers should not just be able to resolve customer issues, but also provide insights into their customer interactions to serve customers better every time.
In the world of conversational AI, this means your customer conversations are no longer a black box.
With Replicant, contact center leaders get visibility into all customer support conversations. Through a single, user-friendly dashboard, contact center managers can monitor conversations, analyze insights from conversation data, receive recommendations for improvements, and take action.
Important insights contact centers should track in 2022 include:
- Why customers contact support
- Customer sentiment
- Most successful conversations with A/B testing
- Call dispositions
- And other KPIS like call volume, average handle time, and customer satisfaction
The other side of the analytics coin is that conversation data is only as good as your ability to take action from it.
Contact centers need the ability to not just draw concrete conclusions, but see how they can address their gaps and opportunities.
From conversation insights, contact centers must have the flexibility to take action immediately by updating conversation scripts to create the optimal customer experience.
Contact center leaders should also have the ability to create new automation flows when trends reveal increases in unsupported customer requests.
Contact centers have long lacked the kind of self-service needed to scale their automation solutions without manual analytics and laborious technical projects.
But, conversational AI solutions have evolved to the point where every contact center should have instant control and visibility over their conversations.