The Argument for Contact Center Digital Transformation
Contact centers are finally going digital, galvanized by a fast-moving pandemic. This does not mean that they are going to shut down their voice channels, as many have made major investments in building them, and they are still receiving lots of calls. But the digital opportunity is beckoning. Digitization should be very compelling for contact center and enterprise executives, as once customer inquiries are in a digital format (email, chat, SMS, messaging, social media, etc.), they become much easier to automate. The challenge is that it will require major changes in procedures and large investments in customer relationship management (CRM) and other operating systems, in addition to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and predictive analytics, to automate the handling of an increasing percentage of digital inquiries.
The argument for going digital goes far beyond a large and rapid return on investment (ROI), although this benefit alone should be compelling enough to convince management to make the commitment to a digital transformation. The math makes the value proposition clear – if a typical phone-based inquiry handled by a live agent lasts 3 minutes and 20 seconds (180 seconds to resolve the issue, plus 20 seconds to summarize it) and costs $4 – $6, depending on the location of the contact center, automating 80% of these transactions will save companies millions of dollars each year. Even if the cost of the technology and implementations could be in the millions, the payback should be less than 2 years for companies that receive at least a few million live calls per year. (Customers expect companies to provide them with effective self-service tools in all voice and digital channels.)
Improve the CX by Giving Customers What They Want
The second reason companies should use digital-first contact centers is because it’s what their customers want. (This should be the primary reason but is not.) Many companies have ignored their customers’ channel preferences for years and have continued to offer voice and possibly email-based support, when customers were asking for other options, such as chat and SMS.
This inertia is a classic contact center pattern that continues to be played out with every wave of innovation until a company is left with no choice, which is what happened in the early days of the pandemic. The reason is because chief financial officers (CFOs) are not quick to approve new investments when the existing solutions still work and have not been fully depreciated. This is particularly the case when a contact center is asking to replace an expensive operating system, like their automatic call distributor (ACD) and or/CRM solution, systems that have traditionally been kept for 10 – 15 years. Moving to the cloud may help the situation, as this spreads out the cost of innovation and is the overall technology direction for many enterprises; but this may not be compelling enough to convince a CFO. DMG recommends that companies use the impacts and lessons learned from the pandemic to speed up their digital transformation, as CFOs and other company executives have relaxed some of their capital spending requirements just to keep their doors open in the wake of COVID-19.
Now Is the Time
DMG is encouraging companies that are not aggressively investing in their digital transformation to move forward and do what is right for their customers, brand and bottom line. There are many paths that companies can take to succeed with a digital transformation, but there is no more time to waste. DMG recommends that companies start by converting their contact centers into digital-first environments. The strategies and best practices for this digital transformation exist and, with the right professional services, can be completed cleanly, without disruption to their business. As importantly, these changes can be combined with other improvements driven by the pandemic and help position companies to come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger than they went in.
If you’re considering the next steps in your contact center and/or back-office digital transformation and looking for assistance, please reach out to Donna Fluss at firstname.lastname@example.org, and it will be my pleasure to help you achieve your goals.