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Going Digital & The Shape of Customer Service in 2020

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I recently presented at the CCA’s annual Convention in Glasgow, Scotland. One of the key themes was ‘The Digital Game’, with sessions examining how organizations are responding to demand for digital customer services as part of the ongoing transition from call to contact centers. The future of customer engagement was illustrated using examples of newer channel usage, including video chat and social media, with a focus on how to best engage through the new channels.

Alison Hilton, Deputy Director, Personal Tax Operations, HMRC, spoke about how her organization handles ~60m customer transactions a year, and decided to go digital to provide stronger customer care, and reduce customer effort. However, customer education was an important part of the transition: Hilton discussed how HMRC had to remind customers not to share sensitive personal information on social media, for example.

Katie Downs, Omni Channels Growth Partner at Barclays explained how they have embraced video chat to personalize banking. Barclays initially focused on ensuring a secure connection before offering video chat to its customers. It also provided specialized training to video chat agents, including what clothes to wear, how to fix their hair, and how to maintain focus on the customer on screen. James Gough, Social Media Operations Manager, Tesco, described the European retailer’s Twitter activity, having recently shared its one millionth tweet. Gough’s team responds to ~40k inbound social media interactions a week, ranging from store related questions and complaints, to customers just looking to find out information from the retailer. Tesco has been meeting its commitment to have its 180 social media agents respond to customers via social media within 24 hours.

I had the pleasure of sharing a session with Melanie Howard, Chair, Future Foundation, and we used our looking glass to see what customer care will look like in 2020. Melanie addressed the themes of responding to clients in a more personalized manner, and contact centers powered by robots with minimal human interactions. I primarily focused on where we see digital channel usage changing over the next five years and how business process outsourcers in the customer management services (CMS) market can assist companies in utilizing digital channels. The high tech and telecoms sectors are trailblazers when it comes to digital channel usage, and in my most recent report on CMS in the high tech sector, I identified the following shifts in channel usage between now and 2020:

  • Voice/IVR usage decreasing from 87% to 65%
  • Email decreasing from 23% to 15%
  • Webchat increasing from 17% to 33%
  • Social media increasing from 5% to 15%
  • Video chat increasing from 1% to 10%.

Voice interactions are increasingly being deflected to non-voice channels, primarily webchat, with complex interactions tending to remain in the voice channel (though a small number of high tech organizations are utilizing only non-voice channels). Video chat still has obstacles in terms of the quality of customer/agent interaction, though it has proven to be of benefit in reducing truck rolls and providing installation support which can reduce product returns and cost.

The presentations at the CCA Convention showed how the adoption of digital channels is increasing and creating additional ways to enhance the customer experience. You can see a brief highlights video from the convention here.

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