I was pleased to be invited again to help the CCMA as a judge for their prestigious 2019 Irish Customer Contact and Shared Services awards. Congratulations to all the winners. I was asked to collate a list of the most notable new or developing initiatives identified by the judges during this years judging process, this is the list of the top 10 trends we saw.
Ennovate were also pleased to sponsor the "Industry Professional of the year: Customer Service Advisor" award. With four highly commended awards being given as well as the winner, Ireland clearly has real strength in depth here and a lot of talent to watch for the future.
I believe we are seeing more change in contact than we have seen for over 20 years -- messaging/bots and mobile interactions are suddenly breaking through everywhere and finally starting to reduce telephony demand (rather than be an extra source of demand). However, the contacts that are still being serviced by agents are more complex, more emotional and more likely to go viral if handled badly. This is an exciting time to be working in customer contact!
So here are the insights:
1. Businesses are upskilling frontline agents to train and implement bots to improve throughput, thereby enriching jobs while reducing operations costs.
2. In contrast to 2018, successful companies are now managing to significantly displace phone and email traffic through the effective use of social media and AI assisted direct messaging via major messaging channels.
3. Bots are now being used effectively to support the early part of the sales funnel, supporting lead qualification and resulting in higher conversion rates.
4. When companies are downsourcing or where there is an expectation of significant release of skilled resources, HR departments from growing companies are linking up to provide opportunities to the resources coming available.
5. In high-volume automated transaction environments, some companies are achieving success in identifying where, for select customers, encouraging an agent contact (higher cost) is worthwhile as a driver of higher future spend and increased customer lifetimes.
6. Companies are getting better at the identification of specialist customer needs and deployment of field force resources to better support specific customer needs.
7. Using customers voice as a machine-recognizable unique id for an individual is starting to appear as both a rapid customer identification and verification method. This has the potential in the future to significantly improve single-view-of-customer initiatives.
8. Use of AI translation within bots is being effectively used by a number of companies to offer both automated and human-mediated support for multiple languages for their English-only speaking agents.
9. Many companies are implementing cross-team group training on co-operative practices and on making mutual requests and commitments, to resolve hard-to-fix issues that were previously falling between departmental responsibilities.
10. Some companies are bringing video production in-house allowing them to increase the quality and relevance of their troubleshooting and support videos. They are successfully displacing inbound contacts while improving service quality metrics with these initiatives.
Many of the participating companies offer open days throughout the year where non-competing organisations can visit and ask questions. In my opinion, membership of the CCMA offers companies a highly cost-effective and fun way to learn what’s new, and gives great input on what contact organisations might do next.