Digital-first has changed how we interact with customers and has defined new ways of working, new channels to manage, and a range of new agent skill sets – are you ready to succeed in this new world?
My last post outlined how a digital-first world customer strategy is driving an increased need for support channels that rely on the written word as more emails, messages and chats are generated. This change is creating a need for diversified skillsets across technical support, empathy, and complex issues and is changing the underlying tools we need to support customers. So here are our top 6 recommendations for supporting your contact centre in this new world.
- Map your customer journey
At the heart of any digital-first strategy is providing customers with choice. Choice in how they interact with you, when they interact with you and what channel they chose for which transaction. To be truly successful in implementing a digital-first strategy, you need to understand your customer and the journey they take with your organisation. This understanding forms the basis for how your contact centre needs to be set up to succeed and provide support when needed and via the most appropriate channels. This journey will change over time as new innovations continually change how we interact with each other and our customers. So keep the customer journey top of mind at all times
- Get your email system right
While most people probably think that email is an old communication method (even though classified as a digital channel), we’ve actually seen the use of email increasing as companies try to manage workload and workforce with delayed response times. This can create customer frustration, hence the importance of getting it right.
Make sure you have a tool that can manage emails effectively – don’t rely on a generic inbox that cannot track or manage demand. You need a purpose-built tool to manage your email channel and give you the data to understand and manage customer demand and operational efficiency. Over the years, we have seen many organisations struggle without one, and we cannot recommend strongly enough that you review this core requirement!
- Review your recruitment profile
As your channels expand and your team need to support multiple channels, you need to review your recruitment profile. You need agents who are confident in the written word and can succeed and even thrive on working across multiple channels. Check for ability to understand and respond to the written word as well as confidence to work across multiple channels. Find someone who enjoys variety and is ready to learn new skills.
- Review your Knowledge Management strategy
Knowledge Management has always driven the concept of many channels, one voice. This is essential as your customers move across self-serve and supported channels. Consistent and accurate information on your website, from a bot or from your agent, is more critical than ever, and a robust knowledge system helps you maintain and support this requirement. Being able to tailor information to the audience and channel must underpin your future Knowledge Management strategy if you are to succeed in a digital-first world.
- Revise your training
As your teams upskill to support a multi-channel environment, you need to provide the right training and coaching to help them reach their full potential. Training needs to cover how to engage customers in a variety of channels and how to communicate via voice, chat, email and messaging. As I said in my last article, don’t assume a good voice agent can automatically move to chat or email; you need to support them on this journey.
You also need to consider the types of enquiries agents are now supporting – both increased technical skills and complex enquiries. Take the time to identify new transaction types and the skills needed and build the programs to resolve these enquiries. Without this, your agents and customers will both be frustrated, and satisfaction will suffer.
- Focus on workforce planning
The customer journey is growing more complex – and understanding how your customers interact with you, when they need help, and through which channels is the first step in understanding the new demand profile and where you need your resources. Monitoring and planning for demand across each channel may make your workforce planning more difficult but get it wrong, and your customers will not be happy. Complex workforce planning is a requirement and a key pillar of a digital-first strategy that cannot be ignored.