The next-generation contact center: 5 ingredients for success
The future of work. It’s on everyone’s radar at the moment. AI, hybrid work, AI, dispersed workforces, AI, digital transformation… did we mention AI? But what does the next-gen work world mean for the contact center, customer service, and customer experience (CX) as a whole? Recently, we had a chance to sit down with some CX industry experts who shared their insights on the ever-changing customer experience landscape. As customer expectations become increasingly sophisticated, the contact center has evolved to encompass the entire business. With that in mind, it’s becoming more apparent that the agent experience can make or break the customer relationship.
With the help of generative AI and other technological advancements, we’ve identified five essential ingredients to help you craft the ultimate next-generation customer experience. First up? AI, of course.
1. AI in the next-gen contact center
Generative AI brings enormous benefits to the contact center, significantly impacting the customer and agent experience. In fact, according to John Larson, Associate Partner of Digital & Service Operations at McKinsey & Company, their research shows that effectively implementing AI across the customer journey can boost revenue potential by nearly 20%. As businesses augment their systems with AI, humans will continue to play an important role. Excellent customer service requires the integration of real people, and real people need to shape how AI aligns with your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here.
AI’s impact on agents:
AI can help your agents do their jobs better by handling repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up their time to serve customers more effectively. These repetitive tasks create high rates of contact center agent attrition. As Juanita Coley, CEO of Solid Rock Consulting, notes: “Contact center agent turnover is 20–30%. It’s much easier on the contact center [workers] if they don’t have to go through constant repetition.”
Capabilities like AI-powered auto-summarization provide context-rich summaries that help individual agents and contribute to an improved team experience. Giving the next team member the context to better handle transferred or returning customers reduces call durations and customer frustration. Another way AI helps agents provide the best customer service possible is by giving them quick access to the information they need when they need it, ideally within the same platform, like Zoom AI Expert Assist.
AI benefits for customers:
Chatbots are the obvious way AI has helped speed up and simplify the customer experience. The ability to self-serve and get fast answers to simple questions without waiting in a long call queue is a welcome development. But remember, not every customer wants to interact with a bot. Understanding your customers and giving them different options to connect with your agents is critical to a more balanced approach.
Melody Brue, VP and Principal Analyst, Modern Work at Moor Insights & Strategy, agrees: “You give chatbots simpler tasks, not the complex work of resolving customer complaints.”
How AI helps contact center IT teams:
Historically, chatbots have bogged down IT teams with time-consuming setups that greatly limit testing and customization possibilities.
Generative AI can automate intent training, significantly reducing complexity for IT developers. Zoom Virtual Agent can now auto-generate a list of intents from a single prompt, helping teams get valuable time back. Similarly, coming soon, Zoom’s auto bot flow generation feature will enable businesses to create simple chatbots in the time it takes to make a cup of coffee. IT will be empowered to add value and build incredible agent desktops quickly.
Check out how our intelligent virtual agent helps Zoom save $13 million each month and generate a 95% CSAT for our support teams.
Privacy and Security with AI:
In the era of AI, contact center leaders can put their customers at ease by being transparent about data use and protection. Simplifying your message to be sure your audience clearly understands those points is critical.
Read more about what Zoom is doing with AI in the contact center.
2. Build an integrated customer-centered organization
Flexibility is vital to keeping up with evolving customer expectations. The goal is to create a seamless and personalized experience. Consolidating your communication and contact center systems can make workflows efficient with the added bonus of reducing costs.
Moving your contact center operations can be straightforward with the right technology partner. Zoom integrates with 200+ other apps, so you don’t have to drop what currently works for your business. Data can also give you valuable insights when it comes to deploying the next-generation contact center. Rich analytics from your contact center can guide your product team in developing future features or making product shifts.
Your IT team will be happy because they only have to manage one platform for your communications. Your supervisors will be happy because they have access to analytics that can help them continually improve and customize their operations. With a combined UCaaS and contact center, your agents will be happy because they can reach back-office experts easily and ultimately be enabled to deliver better service, add value, and feel more accomplished on a single, integrated, easy-to-use platform. This translates to happier customers who will appreciate the kind of dedicated and efficient service they’ll want to tell their friends about. And that’s what we’re here for, after all!
3. Prioritize your agents
One of the most significant impacts of the pandemic on the future of work is the move to hybrid or remote work. This change gives contact center leaders the bonus of a larger talent pool. But as attrition rates continue to go through the roof, embracing this challenge is fundamentally more complex for the next-gen contact center. How can you be sure your agents are productive and thriving when you can’t see them in plain sight? And how do you not only retain but attract agents? Here are our key takeaways:
- Effective communication: Speak to your agents. Find out what’s working and what’s not, and empower them to shape their working environment. As Juanita Coley finds: “The biggest issues agents have are first around the quality of information they have to do their jobs better, and second around schedule autonomy.” Workforce Engagement Management from Zoom can help improve agent well-being and satisfaction.
- Resources for tricky questions: Tools like Zoom AI Expert Assist surface a treasure trove of relevant information from knowledge bases, connected apps, and data sources that were cumbersome to find in the past. This gives agents the help they need to better prepare for future calls.
- Quality management: Give supervisors the capabilities to support their teams better and optimize each agent’s performance with such features as sentiment analysis. Keeping a record of problem resolutions and sharing the results can give a whole new toolkit to agents to help them manage similar queries moving forward. As Adrian Swinscoe, Principal, Punk CX, shares: “A Gallup study found that the quality of management can explain 70% of the performance difference between top and bottom quartile teams.”
- Hardware and connectivity: Headsets can significantly impact call audio quality. Find out what hardware works for your agents’ environments. Epos, Jabra, Logitech, Poly, and Yealink are some of our partners that offer hardware solutions for a spectrum of situations. It’s also essential to ensure that your agents have a good internet connection.
- Easy to use: Simplicity and seamless onboarding are essential for agents, regardless of their location. Zoom Contact Center offers a familiar interface and intuitive tools designed with the agent in mind.
4. Meet your customers where they are
Customers today want to be served in a way that works for them. That means looking beyond voice communications in your next-gen contact center. Of course, managing multiple channels can add complexity. Keeping everything in one easy-to-use platform is essential to ensure a seamless experience for agents and your customers. As Andrew Lindley, CIO, Vensure Employer Solutions, shared during his session at Zoomtopia 2023: “You need to take a channel perspective. Having them all on one platform is game-changing.”
Voice will always be essential, but having a multi-channel approach allows you to respond in real-time, eliminate queues, and provide fast, personalized resolutions. Zoom Contact Center enables agents to respond and engage with customers via voice, chat, SMS, or video. And for customers who prefer to connect via social or other channels, integrations with WhatsApp and Meta Messenger and support for email and outbound dialers are coming soon.
5. Discover the power of video
Video communication has become the norm for consumers and businesses alike. Deploying a video-ready contact center can be a game-changer for customer support as it enables more personal interactions. Seeing the person you are engaging with makes building rapport and demonstrating empathy much easier. For some industries, it can be revolutionary. Just imagine the possibilities that open up for technical support situations. Customers can show an agent their broken dishwasher and troubleshoot within minutes instead of reading detailed, time-consuming written explanations! It also offers a valuable vehicle for displaying visual content and tips to help your customer before the agent joins the call.
The native video platform is unique to Zoom’s Contact Center solution, allowing your customers to connect with your agents on a familiar platform and quickly get to the root of an issue.
A final note on your next-generation contact center recipe for success
It’s no surprise that AI will have an instrumental role in the next-generation contact center, but it’s important to keep perspective and maintain a human touch. You can help future-proof your contact center recipe by adding the ingredients of generative AI, company-wide integration, an agent-centric approach, customer-led communications, and the power of video. As Adrian Swinscoe shared, “The philosophy of ‘Be different, try different’ is still valid today. Go back to basics and build a solid foundation.” And with these ingredients, you’ll be well on your way to setting your contact center apart from the competition.
Discover the magic of the Zoom Contact Center platform.
We’ve just scratched the surface here. Check out our on-demand library to watch our insightful conversations about the next-gen contact center with leading customer experience experts and customers from Zoomtopia 2023.