CX Doesn’t Have to Be So Expensive

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As companies begin to hum back to life following long COVID-19 disruptions, contact centers need to take proactive steps to reduce the cost of providing excellent customer experience, according to a new report from CCW Digital.

Contact centers have historically dealt with the stigma of being cost centers, says report author Brooke Lynch, a CCW analyst. Companies needed to invest even more in their contact center operations during the COVID-19 pandemic as in-person customer contacts at stores or branch offices became taboo.

“To compete, many companies were forced to accelerate and invest in digital technology, activate new customer interaction channels, and prioritize employee well-being with investments in [personal protective equipment], ventilation systems, and other big-ticket [items],” says Paul Ignasinki, a senior vice president at TTEC.

So companies are now even more intent on reducing contact center costs, but they don’t want to sacrifice the customer experience in the process.

Poor CX has its own costs, according to Lynch. “The events of the pandemic demonstrated the fact that no company, even organizations that are deemed at no risk of losing customers to competition, is immune to the immense cost of a failed customer experience,” she says.

Another cost is that customers are 66 percent more likely to switch to a competitor after only one or two por experiences, according to CCW research. Additionally, 57 percent of customers told CCW that they would complain directly to an agent or a superior after a poor experience. This is costly because it bogs down the agent or supervisor, who can’t spend time deepening relationships with other customers.

Lynch offers four suggestions to reduce customer experience costs:

Implement proactive self-service. “When self-service options aren’t easy to find or use, customers leave,” Ignasinki explained in the report. “Today’s tech-savvy and impulsive customers want answers without human intervention. Comprehensive and sophisticated bot technology maps issue type to channel across the entire customer journey, providing immediate (and preferred) self-service options.”

Enable asynchronous messaging. Asynchronous messaging enables companies to better connect with customers across more channels, including WhatsApp and SMS. According to CCW research, 85 percent of customers prefer to message with companies rather than communicate via other channels.

Asynchronous messaging is best for an omnichannel environment, according to Lynch. The technology enables agents to collect and route interactions through different channels, leading to faster resolutions, and enables agents to interact with more customers at the same time.

Improve the agent experience. Contact center agents became the de facto faces of their organizations during the pandemic, and many also moved into unfamiliar work environments as their physical offices closed, the report noted, pointing out that agents were under more stress. Lynch recommends that contact centers relieve agents of tedious back-end procedures with technology like robotic process automation (RPA) for common, repetitive customer inquiries.

Similarly, robotic desktop automation can make it easier for agents to handle customer interactions by gathering information via bots and providing a platform that doesn’t get bogged down with log-ins or forms to fill out.

Reduce training time. Improving efficiency in current training procedures is critical to reducing costs, according to Lynch, who touts technology that supports artificial intelligence-enabled simulations that mirror real-world interactions.

This technology has been shown to reduce training time by as much as 75 percent, while also enabling agents to become proficient at their tasks much more quickly, according to CCW data.

“When support is offered directly, agents no longer need to seek out training opportunities, leaving them well equipped to handle more inquiries and provide meaningful support,” Lynch says.

Ignasinki also recommends frequent team pulse checks as a way to provide great insight and help identify potential problems before they become expensive crises. 

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