Customers today want to choose the channels they interact with, and cloud and cognitive technologies make channel switching easier for all.
As real-time communications services move to the cloud, one of the biggest impacts and potential for growth revenue is coming at the intersection of software innovation and changing consumer behaviors.
After a great run for the last few decades on improving contact center enablement software, reducing the time it takes to respond to questions, reducing the traditional costs associated with toll-free support, and reducing general frustration by improving interactive voice response intelligence, service providers (including business process outsourcing companies offering customer-service-as-a-service) are having to re-think everything.
Because customers today expect fast, accurate and friendly service.
Mobile and social drive self-service
Customers are connected now more than ever before and are moving most of their personal and business conversations to messaging apps and social media.
Customers on mobile apps and the web prefer self-service over having to wait to speak with a customer service representative.
[ Related: What’s the Difference Between Cognitive Computing and AI? ]
An increasing number of customers are comfortable speaking with an AI-powered bot, given the adoption of services like Siri, Alexa and other friendly assistants.
Customers expect brands to know enough about them to make targeted recommendations as Amazon, for example, already does.
Customers want choices — while at their kid’s soccer game, they may prefer to tweet a question about a feature on their smartphone, but when they are at home connecting their new entertainment system to a cable box, they may prefer to speak with a live expert.
Services can make or break you
The list goes on and on, with service applications that can make or break a brand’s popularity for being easy or difficult to interact with, beyond the quality of its products and services.
[ Related: Center for Cognitive Computing ]
Cognitive computing is changing the face of customer service by enabling live agents to serve customers better, serving up answers in advance based on “deep listening” to the customers’ voice, level of potential unhappiness or even anger, based on the customers’ perceived tone, and connected with the customers’ account and history of previous contacts.
Cloud communications over transformed IP networks makes enterprise, business, and consumer collaboration possible. There is a growing interest in virtualized messaging, voice, video and collaboration (UC) services given the dramatically improved user experience.
Research from MobileSquared found that enterprises are expected to consolidate their collaboration and communication onto voice, video and conferencing solutions by 2020, with voice over WiFi, web and video conferencing, video calls, and conference calls the favored channels.
According to Gartner, 75 percent of a company’s touch points with their customers are customer service interactions. Every industry today is being disrupted, and smart companies are changing the way they interact with customers as they change the way they do business.
Smart companies no longer look at “contact centers” the same way, and certainly no longer view them as cost centers. Customer experience is now seen as an opportunity to sell more products and services to their target customer base, while differentiating themselves with excellent experiences to beat the competition.
Harnessing the power of the cloud
Finally, smart companies see the long-term potential to improve everything they do by harnessing the data that comes out of cloud-based customer engagement software solutions. This data enables them to build relationships, make recommendations, increase social capital, and take advantage of “earned media” through reviews, referrals and more.
Customer Engagement at this level of intensity is impossible to deliver and manage over private lines and equipment-heavy, clunky legacy networks and expensive, aging physical contact centers. Well-engineered and supported over increasingly high quality and highly resilient IP network infrastructures, billions of conversations each year are helping brands redefine themselves or even launch using the Internet and public cloud, or virtualized private networks and related virtualized services for the most secure interactions in healthcare, financial services, government and more.
Customers today choose the channels they wish to interact with, and cloud makes channel switching easier for all. We are only at the beginning of the disruption cognitive plus contact will create, so we’re excited to watch this space evolve and to contribute to making multichannel, as endlessly creative customer experience hubs as possible.