Evolving consumer behavior and expectations, particularly among Millennial and Generation Z consumers, have pushed customer service to move beyond omnichannel to truly differentiate and compete on customer experience. With continued restrictions in many parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, typical consumer behavior has also been disrupted, with businesses adjusting to support customers in new ways. With these forces in place, I see several trends that will shape CX for years to come.
Today, smartphones are the primary device consumers use to connect with brands, through apps, phone calls, and text. Consumers expect to be able to leverage the full power of the smartphone in interactions, just like they do in their daily lives and with friends and family. However, many businesses still offer fragmented, unintelligent experiences that were largely designed for the analog phone and desktop era.
We see a massive demand for embeddable experiences that blend channels and communication modes across digital and voice – and across marketing, sales, and support for a more unified brand experience. Contact Center leaders are increasingly asking about smartphone biometrics, real-time multimedia sharing, and modern authentication methods like Face ID, thumbprint verification, and pattern recognition.
Embracing the Remote Consumer
Remote work became pervasive in 2020, with the global pandemic leaving businesses with no choice but to accelerate the decentralization of their workforces – including contact center admins, supervisors, and agents.
But something funny happened… As businesses took a fresh look at their long-standing Digital Transformation requirements, they realized not only that CX was now at the heart of their strategy, but that the technology needed for their remote workers had long been the mainstream for their remote customers.
The lightbulb went off and so with this sudden refresh cycle, businesses are rapidly embracing the digital-first, mobile-centric consumer, and making significant investments to cater to their modern lifestyles.
Customer Experience to Drive Digital Maturity
While businesses and contact centers may talk a lot about customer-centricity, they often still prioritize the needs of agents, departments, and the overall business. Consumer behavior has long been the driving force for business technology innovation, but that has stalled with the contact center.
The challenges of 2020 brought this realization to the forefront of our industry dialogue, and as a result, ‘customer experience’ is getting substantial, hands-on focus and prioritization from enterprise executives.
Today, the contact center and customer experience requirements are carrying much more weight and urgency relative to other areas of the business. CXOs are now a driving force in investing in technology that holistically modernizes experiences for their customers and employees.
Data Privacy and Unification
Security and compliance are important areas of focus for the contact center, made much more complex in a world of disparate technologies and data. With multiple systems between CRM and Contact Center, we are now faced with redundant data, excessive storage, fragmented reporting – and much greater complexity, effort, and risk associated with data management and security.
To address this, global enterprises are overwhelmingly seeking to unify their customer data into a single source – their CRM. By eliminating data redundancies, organizations can dramatically reduce the effort required to ensure data security, and maintain much greater agility and elasticity to operationalize across borders.
Level-Setting Expectations Artificial Intelligence
AI will undoubtedly improve customer interactions and outcomes over the years to come as it continues to evolve. Today’s environment, with its greater focus on Digital Transformation and CX, has highlighted the need for more practical automation and self-service options that can move the needle today.
Businesses are shifting focus to intelligent automation for operational efficiencies, customer experience, and more. Predictive routing, automated after call work, and data-driven agent assist functions are being rapidly requested and adopted and will only accelerate in 2021.
After the many challenges to businesses in 2020, we can look ahead to 2021 as an important shift forward to deliver a modern, connected journey on a single device for digital and mobile natives.