‘For customer service leaders, the next year will be an opportunity to shed legacy thinking and reinvent themselves.’ Forrester
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A new Forrester report points to a tangible shift in the customer service paradigm, and some key emerging sector trends. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced most organisations’ interactions with their customers online, Forrester expects the customer-service pendulum to swing back toward a more personalised, human-to-human model.
Three Key Megatrends
The report offers some important insights for customer service leaders. Highlighted among them are the three customer service megatrends which Forrester predicts will characterise 2022 and beyond.
Companies that invested rapidly, but necessarily, on their tech stacks to enable continued operations during lockdowns are now looking for flexibility and resilience as post-pandemic priorities change. Instead of large-scale suites, focus is turning to modular, more open solutions that support an app-based ecosystem, especially as organisations seek to future-proof their tech stacks.
And in an asynchronous landscape, where text-based channels like Messenger and WhatsApp are increasingly common in interactions with customers, it’s becoming essential to build those channels seamlessly into the chain. If a customer wants to switch from a phone call to a text-based chat without losing the thread of the transaction, they must be equipped to do so.
This is part of a wider trend toward combined unified communications and contact centre platforms, a structure that simplifies system architecture and management, and saves money.
In Forrester’s words, ‘The question is no longer about collecting enough data – it’s about ensuring that the data is usable and liberated from company silos to create new streams of value.’’
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‘Dark Data’ Drives CX and EX
So-called dark data – information collected by organisations but not used – can be unlocked through cross-departmental collaboration on AI initiatives. Consistent, centralised ownership and management of this data can eliminate silos and play a critical role in the improvement of both customer and employee experience alike.
A truly effective AI-powered solution will enable human-machine collaboration to better anticipate customer needs. The fast-paced market and next-generation AI platforms render current single-strand solutions like chatbots obsolete. In any case, humans want to talk to humans again. Integrated CRM and communication platforms will connect employee and customer data to track results, drive CX and EX strategy, and even suggest process improvements.
Putting Humans Back into Customer Interactions
Customers’ preference for speaking to people is clear in the rise in call numbers to contact centres. But with bots having handled a lot of the routine enquiries as automated contact took over during the pandemic, it’s the more difficult calls that are now being dealt with by human agents.
So it’s no surprise that, with millions of employees reassessing their lives and careers during the so-called Great Resignation, employee turnover has risen to 58%. In fact, some centres report levels of up to 80%.
“Stabilising the contact centre is not a technology shift. It requires a change in culture: moving away from an overly cost-conscious view of the function to a more holistic understanding of the value that good customer service brings.”
Forrester’s third megatrend is the humanisation of the company-customer relationship. This includes a strategic move away from cost and efficiency metrics, and towards incentivising issue resolution and customer satisfaction. As back-filling costs rise concurrently with customer demand for human interaction, employers must address agent burnout and foster career development for their employees.
Tech Transformation has to be More than a Buzzword
Successful CRM tech transformation requires not just a deep technical expertise across every aspect of your organisation’s operations, but a clear understanding of how that tech can add value and generate growth under changing business conditions.
And as Forrester has reported, your customer service strategy and operations have to align with customer expectations, building flexibility and resilience into your CX model during unpredictable times. The right solution will not just boost productivity, it will change the way you connect with your audience.
We at redk have over 15 years’ experience in digital transformation, providing the expertise and digital capabilities to implement the tech that works for your business. Talk to us to find out the impact we could have on your organisation.
CRM Transformation Practice at redk
Hideki applies over 15 years of experience in the field of CRM and Customer Experience to overcome business challenges in the customer cycle.