The number of devices connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to reach 135 billion by 2030. Like so many industries already reliant on IoT technology, call and contact centers are no exception.
But as technology transforms how call and contact centers operate, with that comes changes to customer expectations. So how can IoT technology help call and contact centers future proof the customer experience? Here, Renaud Charvet, CEO of call center software provider Ringover, explains.
As the name suggests, call centers enable customer service over the phone, while a contact center manages customer service via a variety of channels such as email, live chat and social media, as well as phone. These centers provide a hub for customer service advisors to handle queries, complaints and sales enquiries from customers.
While call centers are still big business in the US — with over 285,000 agents employed in 2021 — contact centers are becoming increasingly popular. For example, over a third of consumers would rather contact a company’s customer service via social media rather than by phone. With the rise of new technologies and increasing digital requirements from customers, call and contact centers must change their ways if they’re to keep up with demands.
Customer experience is key
We’ve all familiar with the phrase “the customer is always right”. This powerful statement was coined in the early 1900s by United States businessman Harry Gordon Selfridge and is still a motto that many businesses refer to today. While not always a true reflection of every customer-employee experience, there’s a reason this phrase is still frequently acknowledged. It lends itself to ensuring a satisfied customer experience.
Customer experience is one of the biggest influences in the success of a business. After more than one bad experience, around 76 per cent of consumers would rather do business with a competitor. On the contrary, Salesforce found that if a company’s customer service is considered excellent, 78 per cent of consumers will do business with a company again after a mistake.
A PwC survey examining customer experience found that in the United States, consumers would pay between 40 and 50 per cent more for a product or service for friendly experience, which was rated highly important at 80 per cent. And it appears that a positive experience with a brand is more influential than great advertising, as 65 per cent of people agreed.
Poor customer service can take shape in the form of unhelpful service agents, delivery delays and slow service. But in call and contact centers, a bad experience is usually defined as slow answer or reply times from an agent, a lack of personalisation and having to explain a problem to multiple agents before the solution can be resolved.
Preparing for change
The rise of multichannel customer support is influencing customer expectations when engaging with a call or contact centers. Now, customers expect queries and issues to be resolved quickly and with as little interaction and waiting time as possible.
For instance, the number of artificial intelligence (AI) processes has grown significantly in recent years. It’s thought that 79 per cent of contact center leaders plan to invest in AI in the next two years.
The main driver for implementing AI technologies is largely down to improving customer service according to 60 per cent of respondents to the ‘What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now’ 2021 survey report.
Here, AI can improve customer service through chatbots. These tools are powered by AI Natural Language Processing (NLP) to mimic human conversation by identifying the underlying intent behind the message. This enables customers to quickly engage and use self-service support options without having to wait in a call queue to speak with an agent. The ability to problem solve on demand reduces call volume and potential customer frustration.
Other technologies include using cloud software, which is designed to be seamless, futureproofed and scalable. In fact, 32 per cent of surveyed organizations from Deloitte were running contact center technologies in cloud at the end of 2020 — with 75 per cent expecting to make the move within the next two years.
Cloud-based software enables users to build automated flows designed to elevate customer service. For example, Ringover offers smart routing, which contact centers can use to create their own customer rules to route calls according to their needs, applying data from CRM systems or other business tools. Whether it’s contact assignment, skillset or location, it’s possible to direct calls to the most suitable agent available handle customer enquiries for enhanced service.
Furthermore, it’s possible to integrate different pieces of software together to create one seamless platform. Ringover’s cloud calling platform can be easily integrated into contact center solutions like Intercom, to relieve agents of repetitive, time-consuming tasks. All telephone conversations are automatically recorded in Intercom to save agents time they’d otherwise send creating tickets and entering call logs.
To future proof the customer experience, call and contact centers must prepare to invest in IoT technology, which overhauls current inefficiencies. To ensure businesses can meet these growing expectations and maintain great customer service, they must acknowledge how IoT technology, such as AI and cloud software, will be crucial in this process.