Adopt three practices to increase customer service resilience


The Covid-19 pandemic has catalyzed the need for change in customer service organizations – including changes in the way we work, hire new talent, invest in new technology, and the way we manage risk.

We are all aware of the operational gaps that were exposed when contact centers moved agents home in the early days of the pandemic. We found that agents didn’t have the right technology to work from home, supervisors didn’t have the right data to manage remote agents, and managers were struggling to comply with privacy and security policies.

2020 was spent supporting these process problems, strengthening cloud operations and investing in digital and collaboration technologies. We must continue these investments in 2021. Organizations that make their operations more resilient so they can react quickly to changing customer behavior will lead the way. Those who struggle to meet the demands of this changed economy will continue to fall behind, if not completely.

Here are three ways to become more resilient with more sustainable operations:

Adopt alternative work models to deliver value-adding experiences. Contact centers should leverage the skills of digital natives who excel at changing context between interactions to support digital channels; Lifestyle workers who bring unique skills to the workplace and prefer gig economy or work-at-home models; and brand ambassadors who can have authentic conversations with customers in an attractive cost model. For brands that have a physical presence, reassign in-store or branch staff to take on support roles before and after the purchase.

Become data driven to provide an effective service. Contact centers track hundreds of actions, including costs, customer satisfaction, and compliance. Newer technologies such as speech analysis help track the success of every interaction and identify coaching opportunities. In the case of home work models, however, there were gaps in customer understanding and in the practice of superiors, who relied more on walking the floors than on hard data. Become more disciplined in collecting data and use it to train models that optimize onboarding, retention, and customer enrichment. Explore behavioral analytics to match the psychographic profiles of callers to the most qualified agents to serve specific personality types, speech analytics to route calls to supervisors when they sense customer frustration, and behavioral cues to give agents live spoken feedback.

Use customer service technologies with faster time to value. McKinsey & Company reports a 24-fold increase in the migration to cloud technologies, a 27-fold increase in the provision of new service technologies and a 43-fold increase in the provision of collaboration technologies. Use technologies that are ready to use, easy to configure and expandable through a large ecosystem of add-ons and partner solutions. Encourage vendors to offer try-be-for-you-buy models to demonstrate ROI or explore consumption and outcome-based pricing models.

To understand the business and technology trends that will dominate 2021, download the free Forrester 2021 Prediction GuideHere.

This post was written and originally published by VP and Principal Analyst Kate Leggett Here.

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