Essential Role of Contact Centers in Digital Transformations
I’ve got a bone to pick with enterprise technology decision-makers. We’re in the period of digital transformation, but surprisingly, contact centers are sometimes left out of these initiatives. Eventually, someone reasonable comes along and points out the necessity of including the primary customer-facing department in the digital transformation.
Neglecting to include the contact center in essential business initiatives is not new. We’ve seen it happen at the beginning of many efforts, before management realizes that the contact center is a key contributor to achieving their goals. Despite claims to the contrary, and executives professing to appreciate the contributions of their contact centers, all too often they are shunted aside because they are people-intensive and expensive. It’s well past time for this to change, and getting contact centers actively involved in all aspects of the digital transformation is a great way to start, and will improve the success of enterprise initiatives.
Digital transformation means different things to most organizations. To some, it’s about adding non-voice channels, such as SMS and social media. To others, it’s about automating tasks using robotic process automation (RPA) or bots, and some organizations may focus on incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into various aspects of their business. It can also involve many other activities, depending upon the needs of the organization.
However, regardless of the specific actions and changes driven by the digital transformation, customers should be taken into consideration and be beneficiaries of the initiatives. Two important examples are personalizing the customer experience and improving the customer journey, related objectives that are deservedly receiving a lot of attention these days.
Personalizing the Customer Experience
Customers expect companies they do business with to know who they are, regardless of the channel in which they interact. As many communication channels and departments of a business work and are operated independently of each other – for example, the contact center doesn’t typically know what is happening in a branch – it’s difficult to deliver on this important goal without major changes in the company. The modifications needed to create a unified omni-channel communications environment can take many forms, but if done right will improve the customer experience and reduce operating costs, as customers won’t have to repeat themselves every time they interact with someone in a different channel. This will also improve the employee experience, as customers will be much happier.
Improving the Customer Journey
Improving the customer experience is an initiative that is vital for changing the perception of many organizations. There is a substantial amount of inconsistency in how customers and prospects are treated by employees in different departments. Contact center agents know their goal is to deliver an outstanding experience, but back-office employees may not see it the same way, as delivering a great experience has never been one of their key performance indicators. Goals need to change, and employees throughout the enterprise need to share the responsibility for delivering great service, regardless of the department where they work.
In most organizations, a digital transformation is necessary to achieve both of these essential corporate objectives. The contact center must be actively engaged in all of these initiatives, as they have direct knowledge and experience in dealing with customers. Contact centers can contribute significantly to helping companies focus their efforts and succeed with their digital transformations.
It’s time for companies to rethink how they treat both their customers and employees. Digital transformation is a great name for the changes that need to be made in many companies, as it’s a very broad term that represents different actions to different enterprises. AI, machine learning, RPA, bots and many other applications are now available to assist companies with their transformation, but for the initiatives to be successful the changes have to be made in organizational culture as well.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.