“Agile (adj): noting or relating to a philosophy of product development and production intended to create and distribute batches of working products in a short period of time, with subsequent batches planned in a cyclical schedule of improvement, production, and distribution.“
In business parlance, this definition of “agile” is usually applied to software development. In fact, the concept of “Agile (A capital) software development” has been around for years, with thought leaders like Steve Denning stating that it enables organizations to master continuous change, and even flourish in a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA).
In comparison, the concept of “agile customer experience (CX)” is not as well-established, although it is assuming increasing importance, particularly now, when COVID-19 is the most talked-about global “event” of 2020. Now, when “lockdown and “social distancing” are often mentioned in the same breath as “business continuity” and “work from home”, businesses and their contact centers are realizing that in order to stay relevant and even in existence, they need to find ways to adapt to customers’ changing requirements quickly, and still deliver extraordinary customer experiences (CX). To do this in times of continued ambiguity, turbulence, and complexity, they need to understand the 5 Pillars ofAgile Customer Experience.
An omnichannel contact center has agility built into its very DNA. But in a post-COVID world, even such contact centers need to rethink the way they approach agility. To this end, they need to rethink their service delivery and business models. This requires extending capabilities and service delivery mechanisms to different environments, including agents working from home and adding “virtual” agents like chatbots to the workforce. Furthermore, a greater focus on “digital-first” will enable agents to interact with customers over the latter’s preferred channels, whether it’s email, chat, SMS, social media, self-service, or something else.
Such an “elastic” approach enables the contact center – not to mention agents – to adjust to changing service request volumes, and infuse the right amount of speed and agility for enhanced service delivery and excellent CX. In the long term, it also establishes a strong foundation that empowers the organization to respond positively to future changes in the service environment without disrupting customer service.
To enable agile service in the new reality, modern contact centers need to adopt the right technology that can enable them to respond quickly to changes with minimal impact on service continuity or CX quality.
For example, migrating from an on-premise platform to a cloud-native digital omnichannel CE/CX platform like CXInfinity drives both speed and elasticity – two critical advantages for contact centers in today’s world of constantly-changing realities. With expanded, location-agnostic digital access, they can extend their capabilities to any environment, even with most agents working from home or some other remote locations. Furthermore, by integrating new applications to their main platform, contact centers gain advantages like data-sharing, improved collaboration, easier scheduling, and seamless workflow management. Together, these advantages enable them to successfully reinvent themselves and adapt their offerings to changing market dynamics and customer needs. Equally important, integrations with other enterprise platforms like CRM, ServiceNow, Unified Communications (UC) and more, enable agents to understand their customers’ needs better and focus on making every interaction with every customer more meaningful.
In today’s new reality, technology plays a vital role in ensuring consistently positive CX, but people’s role is even more critical. In fact, even the best technology in the world is ineffective without the right people to leverage it to ensure enhanced CX.
To succeed, modern contact centers must develop an Agile Workforce where agents are not just employees but business partners. They must be provided the tools that guide and support them as they adjust to a new “work from home” way of servicing customers. Management should also pay more attention to scheduling, coaching and training to maintain and upgrade agents’ skills, so they can focus on improving CSAT and CX. Finally, leaders must encourage work/life balance, automate mundane tasks that allow agents to focus on high-value work, and take steps to ensure that the workforce remains engaged, efficient and productive, regardless of their location or experience level.
As more and more contact centers embrace work-from-home and virtual agent models to maintain business continuity, they also need to incorporate agility into their processes. One way to do this is through process automation.
Even at the best of times, many manual, resource-intensive processes can be automated to save time and optimize the use of resources for more value-adding work. In current times where uncertainties rule the roost and customers require more hand-holding and better-quality support, automation can be a real game-changer. It enables the contact center to move manual tasks away from agents to concentrate on tasks that require human judgment or empathy. For example, the Smart Bots in CXInfinity’s omnichannel Contact Center platform can easily handle Level 1 queries, freeing agents to focus on resolving complex issues. This means they can also keep up with high customer service volumes more easily, while maintaining service quality, and providing the personalized CX that today’s customers demand, and even expect.
Data and analytics can enable contact centers to stay competitive and agile while strengthening their ability to consistently deliver high-quality CX. By leveraging the power of AI-driven analytics, they gain valuable real-time (or near real-time) insights into what makes their customers “tick”. They can better understand their needs, analyze their behaviors, study previous interactions, and even predict how they may act in certain situations in the future.
Even as realities continue to change – and they will – analytics provide contact center agents with all the information they need to quickly and accurately identify customers’ issues, and make more informed, data-driven decisions as they suggest (and provide) solutions. A staggering 99% of customers will remain loyal when their concerns are resolved on the first attempt – and understanding them better through analytics makes this possible.
AI also enables contact center managers to identify gaps, say in workflows or training, and make necessary adjustments. They can uncover CSAT’s critical drivers, such as agent empathy and customer sentiment, and how they change over time. This empowers them to confidently and agilely adjust their customer service and CX approaches and take steps to ensure that their agents continue to meet – and even exceed – evolving expectations in a post-COVID world.
Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting effect on contact center organizations. To successfully deal with the impact of unprecedented challenges while simultaneously enhancing their service delivery, contact centers must become more comfortable with change, ambiguity, and uncertainty. But to do this, they must be willing to adapt to forces that may not always be in their control. In other words, they need to be more agile. Contact centers that understand the 5 Pillars of Agile Customer Experience will be able to deliver exceptional CX and keep marching towards success, regardless of what the future holds.
Deliver high-quality support to your customers over their preferred channel for consistently positive CX, no matter where they are. Explore the digital omnichannel CX platform from CXInfinity.