• June 14, 2023
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

CXConnect Speakers Outline Strategies for Coming Through Economic Hardship

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Contact centers have long had staffing problems, but the faltering economy has taken its toll on them in other ways. One of the major ones is the increase in demand for customer support, Pete Khanna, CEO of TeamSupport, said during a session on the first day of the CX Connect virtual conference yesterday.

Customer support demands have increased 11 percent year over year, which further strain contact center agents, he said, noting that 75 percent of agents today face the risk of burnout due to inadequate staffing to handle all the requests for service and support coming in.

To help companies deal with the crisis, TeamSupport unveiled five key best practices that it said will streamline processes, increase agent productivity, reduce pressures on agents, and improve customer experiences. Key to this is changing the current mindset, Khanna said.

Following are the five best practices:

  • Offer self-service;
  • Use standard responses;
  • Use chat automation;
  • Use analytics; and
  • Use collaboration tools.

With self-service, 71 percent of cases can be closed on first contact, Khanna said, urging companies to deflect at least 40 percent of their customer inquiries to self-service.

Standard responses are a key to self-service, but companies can’t just put them into action and forget them, according to Khanna. Companies should analyze the responses and make modifications over time if they are not hitting the mark, he said.

Of the five best practices, chat is perhaps the most important. "Chat is how people want to communicate today," Khanna said, noting that chatbots have been growing by 68 percent year over year.

Chatbots can save companies about 30 percent on costs, he added.

And an added benefit is the ease with which it can be deployed. "You can get chat up and running in about two weeks. It's not difficult to implement," Khanna said.

And while collaboration is important, Khanna said that 40 percent of U.S. companies are not able to provide good customer experiences because of a lack of collaboration.

Joanne Zehr, director of operations at ConstellationOne, a TeamSupport customer, fully endorsed the five best practices and has implemented most of them.

"Prior to using TeamSupport, we did not have visibility into our support operations," she said, noting that her company was using Microsoft Outlook for most of its support tickets.

"Now, the ability to track tickets to completion has been a game changer," Zehr said.

And though not directly mentioned among TeamSupport's five best practices, artificial intelligence's role in customer experience delivery cannot be ignored. In a separate session, Elizabeth Tobey, director of marketing for digital solutions at NICE said AI "is not just the future of CX but a must for businesses today."

She outlined the three steps that are present in every human interaction: converse, understand, and take action.

In business contexts, this requires personalization at scale, skilled labor amplification, and decision velocity, all of which can be addressed with AI, according to Tobey.

And generative AI takes it even further. "Generative AI is giving a voice to data in ways we previously never thought," she said.

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