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Omnichannel, Next-Gen Tech and Engaged Agents Converge to Drive Superior CX
By Michael Ringman, CIO, Telus International
Gone are the days when brands catered to the needs of customers individually across channels. There are a myriad of ways to meet consumers’ present-day needs through different points of entry into an organization such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, a physical store, or by phone, email and chat. However, in the age of industry 4.0, single or multichannel approaches are no longer relevant.
Unifying these channels and others into a single platform will give brands the much-needed ability to not only survive but also thrive in a market where consumers are becoming increasingly demanding. To that end, an omnichannel strategy is now critical in order to compete and thrive. Through a unified omnichannel environment, brands can better manage customer expectations and even provide more proactive and personalized customer service, even as the market continues to become increasingly fragmented with new channels.
An Omnichannel Strategy Supported by Next-Gen Technology
I’ve observed that consumers tend to approach customer service agents with a prescriptive script on how they want a problem they’re having to be reconciled. That is great and appreciable; however, in a world now driven by more complex customer journeys and multiple touchpoints, these ‘traditional’ scripts are quickly fading away. To that end, TELUS International leverages next-gen technologies like chatbots and robotic process automation (RPA) to help our agents to be more knowledgeable and empathetic to customers regardless of where the interaction takes place. We believe in empowering and enabling the agent who is trying to address the customer challenge, not replacing them.
Conversational bots have proven their capability to boost agent performance and engagement, mitigate costs, and increase efficiencies, which all contribute to better customer experiences.
When used to support human agents, AI, data analytics and robotic process automation will provide a better customer experience versus eliminating human beings altogether and replacing them with next-gen technologies
Bots can undertake the simple, repeatable tasks such as password resets, leaving agents to handle the more complex challenges and giving them time to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities and personalize the experience to create a better brand-customer relationship.
To drive digital services transformation internally, TELUS International follows a strategy that simplifies the technology and processes for our frontline team members. We help consolidate all the different positioning systems into one easy-to-use interface where the data is automatically populated and pulled together from across the different channels.
The result is an application that not only caters to our customer service agents, but also greatly benefits both customers and retailers as well. By mitigating the “off-chat” time when agents are searching for information behind the scenes and aren’t interacting with customers, brands have more opportunities to properly address consumers’ concerns and create the sought-after high-touch experiences that lead to customer loyalty.
Disruptions and Transformations
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding chatbots and AI wiping out human agent roles in the call center industry and that all grievances will be redressed through AI instead of people. I believe that technology has actually shown us the opposite outcome. AI, data analytics, and RPA are aiding humans to offer better services versus replacing them. A great example in support of this argument is home automation. If I buy a next-generation remote control for my TV, I still need someone’s support to get the different devices and appliances talk to that remote control in a way that my spouse and kids can use it conveniently.
In a nutshell, many simple and mundane tasks will be automated to meet the aspirations and needs of the end user through multiple channels like social media, SMS, and voice, among others. In such a scenario, contact centers and customer support team members will need chatbots and AI to be more creative at solving broader problems.
CX Lessons for Life
The lessons I learned as a bike shop mechanic in the early years of my life had a significant impact on my career as an IT professional, especially in designing and implementing technology to support better CX and DX. The lessons I took away from that time included understanding what was at the heart of a customer’s problem.
When a rider would visit our shop and say ‘my bike pulls,’ he or she didn’t want to hear a long, complicated explanation about what the mechanic thought was the problem. They wanted you to show empathy by taking them on a ride for a few meters to experience what they did and also to use all of the information at your disposal – in this case, their explanation and my first-hand diagnosis of the bike. It’s that ability to listen to customer challenges, empathize with them and use the right mix of data obtained from different sources that now helps me leverage technology to design systems, programs and platforms to help our agents best address our customers’ woes.