Vendors, visitors, and speakers were in agreement — these two takeaways are central to customer service, CX, and contact centers in 2019 and beyond.
The 2019 Northeast Contact Center Forum (NECCF) Conference & Expo held at Gillette Stadium hosted close to 400 industry professionals who, despite the rainy weather and an event-long power outage, managed to share plenty of insights into where the industry is going and how companies can get there.
Over the course of the conference two themes started repeating themselves: customers love faster solutions, and the most important lesson for companies going digital is to proceed at the right pace. Many speakers and even more vendor pitches echoed these themes. Digital is great and self-service is expected, but the speed and quality of new solutions is more important than the quantity of automated options in 2019. Businesses looking to go digital or add automation to customer service should focus on improving the right aspects of CX and doing it well instead of complicating customer service and diluting the great CX they’ve worked hard to cultivate already.
“Over the course of the conference two themes started repeating themselves: customers love faster solutions, and the most important lesson for companies going digital is to proceed at the right pace.”
1) Customers Love Faster, More Convenient Solutions
As far as customers are concerned, the purpose of any new solution should be to solve problems faster and more conveniently. The success stories shared at the NECCF conference revolved around this fact. Every story talked about an increase in satisfaction when digital solutions or automation simplified their interactions and reduced the tasks they had to accomplish for a successful resolution.
One bank in Maine has implemented an automated “voice biometrics” solution that listens to patterns and behaviors of callers to authenticate and match their identity to accounts. Customers loved the switch from a laundry list of forgettable authentication questions to a faster, less stressful digital solution. The new authentication solution is faster and easier than the old trend of adding more and more authentication questions. Customers had created such a buzz that competing banks have made implementing a similar solution a top priority.
2) Companies Must Proceed At The Right Pace
Automation and digital advancements are making interactions faster and more convenient for customers, but NECCF speakers warned not to rush into transforming entire contact centers or customer journeys into automated, digital interactions all at once. Three factors make pace paramount for innovation. The right pace helps businesses implement better solutions, makes transitions easier for employees, and maintains a culture of advancement.
We know that customers love faster, more convenient solutions, but the opposite is also true — they don’t like solutions that make things seem more complicated or take longer to accomplish. If businesses aren’t careful about what they automate and how fast they transform legacy processes into digital solutions, they run the risk of adopting solutions that make interactions more complicated instead of less. Complicated or emotional interactions don’t play to automation’s strengths. Only by automating at a measured pace and focusing on interactions customers want to be digitized can businesses avoid overcomplicating customer service.
Customers aren’t the only ones impacted when businesses implement new solutions. Pacing is important to help employees shift to new processes as well. Employee priorities, routines, and skills all need to change when new companies launch new technology. The right speed of change means smaller, more precise adoption of automation and digitization, preventing too many major disruptions to employee experience — a factor just as important to business success as customer experience.
Technology is constantly advancing. Businesses need to be as well. If companies commit to forklift upgrades and massive overhauls, they’re prone to consider the job finished once their big implementation is complete. In today’s constantly shifting customer service landscape, businesses can’t afford to become complacent. By pacing implementations properly, CX leaders build a process of continual improvement. Smaller innovations mean teams don’t get stretched to thin and the right resources are maintained and ready for the next step towards digital transformation.
Digital transformation is sweeping across customer service and every industry. Automation and technology is improving CX and helping businesses cultivate committed, loyal customers. New technology is making interactions faster, simpler, and easier than ever before. As long as companies focus on moving forward at the right pace, the future looks bright for contact centers and customer service. The vendors, visitors, and speakers were excited for that future at the 2019 NECCF conference and expo.