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Three Contact Center Resolutions for 2024

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IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR, dear reader! Holiday displays are up in every store, radios everywhere are playing that Mariah Carey song (you know the one), and I have inexplicably begun craving eggnog despite being oh so very lactose-intolerant.

It’s also the time of year where we start contemplating what we’ll be taking into the new year and what we’ll be leaving behind. The time for setting resolutions, like drinking less coffee (never) or getting ahead of every single report deadline (yeah, sorry, boss).

But you know what? I’m going to flip it around. I’m going to set resolutions for you. Why? Because this is my column and I can do what I want (unless the editors stop me, of course). Also, it’s more fun this way.

So without further ado, here are your 2024 resolutions for customer service awesomeness. It’s a gift. You can thank me later.

1. Contain yourselves (about containment).

I get it; containment is a tough habit to break. But trust me, life gets better once you kick the containment addiction. I understand the pressures—high volumes, tight budgets—but slapping chatbots on everything won’t solve our problems.

I recently learned about a quick-service restaurant struggling with canceled order inquiries. Just the cost of doing business, right? Maybe not. The real issue was customers accidentally ordering from their “default” store when they were somewhere else. The right solution? A simple app tweak—perhaps an alert to gently remind customers that they’re a bit far from their usual spot before confirming the order. These contacts wouldn’t just be contained; they’d be eliminated and revenue would be restored. I like the sound of that, don’t you?

Containment strategies are valid, but they’ve got to be part of a balanced breakfast. Expand your toolkit; you might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish when you think bigger than containment.

2. Never serve half-baked channels.

Launching channels without fully thinking them through is a little like serving up an underbaked pie at a holiday feast: disappointing and unsatisfying. Don’t look at me like that. This is relatable! We’ve all had the experience of a sad slice. Anyways—before you add another channel to the mix, ask yourselves: Is my strategy fully baked?

We often throw around the term “right-channeling,” but let’s not mistake it for “cheap-channeling.” Let’s be more thoughtful. I recently spoke with a digital leader at a well-known healthcare system who aims to increase personalized human outreach, but selectively. Individual check-ins with patients are tough to scale, but imagine the impact of a personal touch at the right time in a patient’s journey.

In an age with “slow living” videos trending on TikTok (yes, it’s research), why don’t we embrace “slow channeling”? Make intentional choices instead of rushing to jump onto every new channel. Take a breath.

3. Let your agents take the wheel.

The allure of an AI copilot is undeniable, but an AI lurking as a backseat driver? Not so charming. As we transition from the hype of generative AI in 2023 to the practical reality of 2024, deploying AI solutions to support agents becomes the name of the game. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance that values autonomy.

Make a resolution to delve deeper into your agents’ needs. Ask questions, understand how they prefer to work, and identify areas where a copilot could genuinely enhance their experience. If you’re partnering with a vendor, make sure the feedback loop is constant. It’s not just about implementing AI; it’s about refining it based on what your agents actually need.

Remember, if you want your agents to change their workflow, be ready to fill their cup. It’s not just a resolution; it’s a commitment to supporting your team without becoming an unwelcome backseat presence.

Let me leave you with one last wish to close out the year: May your queues be short, your feedback be glowing, and your eggnog cravings manageable.

Happy holidays, and best of luck in the year ahead. Here’s to a great 2024! 

Christina McAllister is senior analyst, Forrester Research, covering customer service and contact center technology, strategy, and operations.

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