Customer support is currently standing at a crossroads: One road leads to exciting automated technologies, and the other to the ‘human touch’. Recent technological advancements are many, ranging from Artificial Intelligence (AI) (and related automated tools like virtual assistants, chatbots, etc.) to real-time messaging, simulation, self-service and crypto-currency. These technological breakthroughs point toward a future with remarkable changes in the customer service landscape. Despite these advancements, the human element still rules as the best way to deliver efficient customer support. Human agents make informed judgments and offer personability, both highly desired traits in the CS ecology. In fact, the success of new support technologies is ultimately based on how efficiently they are able to assist humans working on the front lines.
He-Man had the right idea when he held aloft his sword and transformed into his mightiest self. “I HAVE THE POWER!” he proclaimed with animated gusto. Although the cartoon is pushing 35 years old, it’s still an inspiring sight to see (and message to hear). While we’re not all Eternia-born superheroes like him, per se, as mere mortals we can still aim to be the masters of our own universes (contact center universes, if we’re being specific here) and harness the unshakable power to satisfy our customers.
Sparking powerful connections with customers and establishing their ongoing business isn’t rocket science: It’s a matter of having the most dynamic tools in place in your contact center. These tools ensure that customers make meaningful contact with agents whose powers are knowledge, experience, and empathy. This in turn will generate more positive aftereffects than you might initially think.
You know when you’re listening to a podcast interview and the guest says something and you literally smack your head, pause the podcast, and start tweeting? Happened to me last week.
Andrew Yang, founder of “Venture for America” (and a long-shot candidate for president in 2020) said “Google recently demonstrated software that can do the job of an average call center worker … that’s going to result in hundreds of thousands of jobs lost”.
Now, I grant some leniency for people outside our industry not getting some details right. But this thought is so wrong — and, sadly, growing in popularity — that it really needs correcting.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has invaded our lives and is fundamentally redefining the way we work. Across industries, it is widely regarded as a tool for increasing efficiency, boosting productivity, and lowering costs. In particular, AI is having a noteworthy impact on the contact center industry, a space that represents the front line and links businesses with customers.
It’s undeniable that AI (and related automated tools like chatbots and virtual assistants) has a range of opportunities to streamline customer service (CS) and lessen the challenges that arise when attempting to deliver a flawless customer experience (CX). While some fear technological advancements like AI will replace human beings in the workplace (particularly in the contact center space), human agents will remain irreplaceable because of their unprecedented ability to handle complex customer issues and deliver personalized, “human touch” service.
It’s a noisy little planet we live on. In contemporary times, the deafening sounds of the outside world via the news, social media, the subway, the radio, the street, and even the phone lines can distract us from our long-term professional and personal goals. It’s simply become too loud. This is especially true for those of us involved in the cacophony of contact centers; we are essentially the appointed, trusted ‘brand listeners’ who hear many, many voices on a given day, including those of both customers and colleagues. Taking in the noise is part of the job, and we’re good at doing it.
But if we momentarily dial the sound down, we are rewarded with a) some mental clarity; and b) the sweet, sweet sounds of intelligent, helpful voices who deliver some music-to-our-ears advice on how to survive and thrive in 2018 and beyond. Here, experts and influencers in the CX and CS industries give us incredibly valuable soundbites on best practices, boosting morale, improving performance, implementing technology, building partnerships, and delivering a well-orchestrated customer support offering to your burgeoning audience of customers.*
Contact center professionals? Turn your podcast down, and turn this article up to eleven.
Nothing says summertime like lounging by the pool and reading contact center industry reports, amirite? Seriously though: If you slack off with your reading during the summer months, you’ll be too far behind in the autumn to ever catch up. Make sure you have already looked through the reports in our last report round-up post, too.
So, here are 5 more reports worth your time. As always, I’m grateful to all the smart folks in our industry that produce such excellent content.
Listen: We can learn a lot from cartoons.
I can think of few better examples than The Simpsons, an arguable work of art now approaching its 30th year on air. With never-ending talent churning through its writers room, the show is regarded not only as a universally-identifiable comedic cartoon, but also as a source of critical commentary on human behavior. The Simpsons‘ critique often includes the fallible organizations or institutions we interact with in our lives: restaurants, bars, lawyer’s offices, schools, government agencies, our homes, and even our own workplaces (and more). Additionally, the Simpsons’ writers have developed memorable, well-written characters (some ironically without character) who through their foibles reveal the ‘stuff’ of humanity, especially its silliest and weakest parts.
Really, The Simpsons casts a net so far-reaching that anyone can glean some life lessons from its impressive body of episodes and the minutia of its gags. As customer service is ultimately informed by human interaction, it is necessarily a part of the fabric of the show, woven into each storyline even in the subtlest of ways. As such, it offers an overwhelming amount of lessons for CS professionals, be they managers or agents. Here, in part one of this series, we outline three major lessons we can take to heart from this iconic, globally-lauded show.
Just like me, you probably remember dozens of random 1-800 phone conversations with Johns, Jacobs, or Janes. They have called us from contact centers in the middle of the work day, when we ourselves were working on getting through that jerk chicken during a barely 15-minute lunch break. If I am not wrong, then it is safe to say that nine out of 10 times, we have hung up after the robotic, brief introduction and then wondered why they bothered calling us in the first place.
Well, wonder no more. Let’s take a sneak peek at their typical work day.
Last week, Facebook announced that WhatsApp could now be used as a customer service platform. We now have an interesting race between Apple’s “Apple Business Chat”, Facebook’s own “Messenger for Business”, and Twitter. The goal is to grab a vital piece of the eCommerce landscape: The channel for customer service communication.
What caught my eye is that WhatsApp is asking companies to pay in order to use its platform for customer service. Twitter quietly made this move a few months ago, too. What does it mean? Are these fee structures really there to earn revenue or to incent certain behavior? Will Apple follow suit?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: What a world we live in.
Speaking as a seasoned, schooled, marginally flawed member of the human race, I have of late been watching the movements of humanity with worried, widened eyes. This was not by choice, really. Recent, domain-shifting global crises and changes in our behavior as a people have demanded some navel-gazing.
What I noticed with this increased scrutiny was dizzying: Contemporary humanity is grizzled, tenuously held together. We are infighting at maximum volume. Violence persists. Epidemics once thought dead have effortlessly risen from the grave. The concept of acceptance has been gradually eclipsed by intolerance. “Social media” has ironically mutated into the most anti-social of spaces: Once lauded as a magical tool of globalism and the sharing of ideas, it has bred bullying and divisiveness, and has seen humanity fire out sharp-tongued words so devastating and massive in volume that it can no longer be measured, or contained.