07 Jun Post-Pandemic CCaaS: How Customer Communications have Changed Since Covid
Every business, no matter its size or industry, has been affected by the pandemic of 2020.
When the world entered lockdown for the first time in March 2020, the contact centre as we know it experienced a fundamental shift. The digitization of customer service accelerated at incredible speed, and companies discovered they could no longer afford to stick to “legacy” strategies.
Though the chaos of the pandemic has begun to soften in recent months, the influence on customer communications won’t diminish. Most experts agree that the contact centre has changed on a granular level, and there’s no way to “go back to normal.” In one study conducted by Talkdesk, Pitch, and the South West Contact Centre forum, 83% of companies are revising their Business Continuity Strategy for the post-pandemic world. Another 56% believe they will be leveraging more technology in the years to come to adapt to new customer needs.
Here’s what you need to know about the transformation of customer communications.
The Digitized Contact Centre and Customer Support
Perhaps the biggest influence the pandemic has had on the contact centre and customer communications, is evident in the way that companies run their operations. Around 77% of contact centres will be operating with 50% or more of their employees working remotely in the years ahead. The cloud-based contact centre represents a crucial solution for continuity in an age where agents may not always have access to an office environment.
In 2020, companies rapidly discovered how ill prepared they were to enable staff outside of the office. Over-worked contact centres struggled to deliver excellent customer experiences during the early days of the pandemic, and many companies shut down various channels of their CCaaS environment entirely. Now, even contact centre environments previously reluctant to join the cloud revolution have been forced to reconsider.
Experts say that the COVID-19 pandemic effectively leapfrogged industry digital transformation by around 7 years. Today, cloud-based contact centres and flexible, scalable CCaaS solutions are no longer an option – but a necessity. To enable a more effective digitized and cloud-based contact centre, with access to remote and hybrid workers, companies are also investing in additional technologies to operate alongside the contact centre.
Analytics and reporting tools are more popular than ever. Real-time analytics allow managers to track their employees’ performance in the moment, while predictive analytics help companies to prepare for changes in demand and customer trends. Workforce management tools also assist business leaders in giving employees the support they need to thrive in a remote landscape.
CCaaS solutions capable of integrating with a wid
New Channels for Customer Service
The rapid shift from in-person and voice-based conversations to digital environments has also had a lasting impact on customer communications. Although voice is still the most popular avenue for most conversations that require empathetic, creative insight, new solutions are emerging. When contact centres were overwhelmed by excessive calling numbers during the pandemic, customers became more comfortable using other methods of service and support.
Live chat applications where customers can connect with companies via social media, WhatsApp, and web-based widgets are growing more popular. 41% of customers even say they prefer live chat support when given the option. Text-based conversations that remove the complexity and anxiety associated with voice conversations but deliver results faster than email are a must-have.
Increasingly, customers are also beginning to explore other avenues for customer service. Things like video conferencing are growing more popular, particularly in B2B interactions. People want the opportunity to replicate face-to-face conversations in a digital environment. As the technology available for customer communication evolves, new channels may continue to emerge.
Many companies are already beginning to experiment with things like augmented and virtual reality to deliver new levels of customer onboarding and support to clients. In the future, these tools could allow for better-quality guidance for clients who need help setting up new technology or unlocking crucial functionality.
Powerful CCaaS platforms, enabled by the scalability and flexibility of the cloud will support companies in embracing these new avenues for customer communication as and when they make the most sense.
Agent Augmentation and Artificial Intelligence
Finally, another major evolution to emerge in customer communication since the pandemic is the rising reliance on artificial intelligence to assist customers.
AI rapidly became a must-have tool for the modern contact centre and support agent in 2020, dealing with more calls and requests than ever before. Intelligent assistants can deliver information instantly after recognising a keyword or phrase from a customer. Alternatively, intelligent routing systems can send customers to the correct agent based on knowledge or skill and provide that agent with customer details before they answer the phone.
Artificial intelligence and natural language processing solutions make it easier to understand the needs and expectations of customers in any conversation. The right bots can understand the sentiment in a conversation and determine when a conversation is going in the wrong direction. Automated systems can even inform supervisors and managers when agents need assistance dealing with a difficult conversation.
AI innovations also allow companies to take advantage of the endless amounts of information they collect via conversations each day. Speech and text analytics provide an insight into audience trends and pave the way for stronger decision making. Post-pandemic, as companies strive to understand the needs of an evolving audience, these analytical tools will be even more essential.
Aside from augmenting existing human agents, AI can also take over parts of the customer communication strategy too, offering self-service solutions to clients. Consumers will be able to ask questions of bots and complete transactions with intelligent IVR systems without ever having to speak to a human agent. This delivers speedier results for customers, while simultaneously reducing the pressure on employees to handle repetitive tasks.
Combined with automation strategies to enhance business efficiency, AI will ensure that employees responsible for customer communication can spend more time focusing on the discussions that matter most.
Keep Looking Forward
Though we can never predict what the future might hold in customer communications, we can determine that the industry is changing. Now more than ever, companies need to be equipped to handle the rising demands of an evolving customer base and a digitized contact centre environment.
The businesses that succeed in this new landscape will have the capacity to keep moving forward with help from the right innovators and industry pioneers.