In contact centers, digital transformation is often thought to mean converting from a multi-channel environment to omni-channel engagement, but it is so much more. While adding digital channels is a step in the right direction and a necessity for contact centers of all sizes, it is just the beginning of the process. A digital transformation must be an enterprise-wide strategic initiative that addresses all aspects of a corporation: its strategy, technology, systems, operations, processes, policies, organization, people and culture. The outcome of a digital transformation is a company that has been revamped, re-architected, re-tooled, re-organized and re-staffed so that it is positioned to succeed in the era of digital and artificial intelligence (AI). Companies that undertake an enterprise-wide digital transformation must appreciate that their contact center is an essential component of their new customer paradigm and digital future, and should therefore undertake the four initiatives below, in addition to other organization-specific goals that will also have to be accomplished.
The four relatively standard initiatives to help contact centers with their digital transformations are:
- Transitioning to an omni-channel contact center – It’s taken close to 20 years but most contact centers leaders now understand the difference between a multi-channel and omni-channel operating environment and are undertaking the changes, consolidations, integrations and investment in new systems to build the underpinnings for their contact center of the future.
- Integrating front- and back-office activities – The concept of distinct front and back offices is one that has enabled companies to realize economies of scale from each of these departments. However, new applications such as desktop analytics, robotic process automation, visual assistance, intelligent virtual assistance and more are eliminating the need to distinguish between the front and back office. Companies can improve the customer experience, better engage their employees and improve productivity by revamping their service organizations to optimize how customer inquiries and activities are addressed.
- Updating self-service solutions – There are many outdated interactive voice response (IVR) systems in the market. In some cases, every aspect of the application, from the technology to how it interacts with customers and what is says, is dated. In other situations, the technology may be current but the script and voice user interface (VUI) is old and ineffective. It’s way past time for this to change. The new generation of IVA solutions comes fully loaded with natural language processing/understanding/generation, voice biometrics, personalization, predictive analytics, interaction analytics, global positioning systems and knowledge bases, and are enabled by AI. These solutions can support many channels, including voice, chat, SMS, email, etc., and are designed to deliver concierge-style service. They are “game changers” for organizations and their customers.
- Implementing customer journey analytics (CJA) – This new big-data application is designed to capture and analyze how customers interact with organizations, identify where there are issues that need to be addressed to improve their experience, and at the same time, reduce operating expenses. These solutions require input from contact centers and every other department or function in a company that interacts with customers on a direct or indirect basis.
Every digital transformation is unique because of where each company starts and what they want to accomplish. DMG expects that it will take at least 3 – 5 years for companies to complete their digital transformations, and by then there will be a great deal more change that will need to occur. We are in the era of customer-centric service, which will continue to drive changes throughout enterprises. Once a company makes some of their initial investments, they will be expected to identify many other opportunities for improvements that will benefit their customers, employees and their organization. In order to be recognized for delivering a great customer experience, companies must continuously look for opportunities for improvement and make the investments that will take them to the “next level” of service on an ongoing basis.