This week we kicked off our latest research project ‘Smart Customer Service’ in conjunction with the CCA, where we’ll be examining how contact centres here in the UK are transforming their service strategies, business models and multi-channel operations to adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands.
For me, this is a critical piece of research for us to conduct at a time when offering efficient service is no longer enough. I am hopeful that the research findings will shed some light on what the future of customer service via the contact centre holds and whether you are seeing some of the same trends we are notably:
Agents will be everywhere.
And by this I don’t mean contact centre agents will rule the world. I mean that agents or customer service experts could be located anywhere, engaging any time, any place through any channel and any device. Many will work from home, many will be on the move, many will work in offices/branches but all will be working to solve customers’ issues. In addition, companies who extend and refocus their service engagement, to allow their most loyal brand advocates to act as agents and to allow contact centre agents to engage more socially, will find themselves in the driving seat.
Channels will become invisible.
With many more communication channels available, customers will move in and out of them at will. Contact Centres must therefore be able to support basic customer engagement well and in addition, embrace cross channel customer dialogues knowing what has happened, is happening and might happen at point of connection. Such demand will also accelerate the convergence of online with more traditional channels and mean that organisations need to break down those silos between marketing and customer service teams.
Service gets personal.
As a consumer myself, I want genuine intimacy and a real relationship only with brands I trust. And I don’t think I am alone there. The most customer-centric companies will therefore need to know what their customers like me want, before they do. Their service experts will need to understand customer intent (something Gartner analyst Michael Maoz is passionate about), and be armed with the right information at the right point in time. The best companies will get this. The best service experts will live and breathe this.
The contact centre finds its voice.
A by-product of increased online and social media hype and use needs to be greater prioritisation of and voice for customer service across companies. Renewed emphasis will therefore fall on the contact centre as a way of differentiating an organisations’ service proposition (and if you don’t believe me, see here for what Kerry Bodine from Forrester has to say on the matter). Companies wanting to become most-recommended will have to up their game and make customer service via the contact centre, a higher priority than it is now, from boardroom level downwards. That means those leading the contact centre charge will need to find language the board room understands to push support for investment through.
But what do you think? Are you seeing the same things? If you want to have your say, then why not take 5mins and complete our online survey here. It will be open for participation until 6th July. Alternatively, if you are interested in voicing your opinion but would prefer to reach out directly, then feel free to tweet or email me.