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How Contact Centers Can Adopt a Concierge Approach

Abby Jacobs
May 15, 2018

With increasing expectations for omni-channel service, organizations face mounting pressure to win, serve, and retain customers. The contact center has long been the frontline for ensuring positive customer outcomes, but today's contact centers need to go far beyond stand-alone problem resolution and focus on providing personalized interactions along the customer journey. This requires a concierge mindset.

Moving from a Tiered to a Concierge Customer Engagement Approach

The traditional approach to contact center operations has largely been based on a tiered methodology where problems are escalated by passing the customer along to another service representative or department. While this approach has worked in the past, we've entered an era where customers demand their issues be resolved in real-time, resulting in the emergence of a concierge approach.

This model reimagines how best to serve customers and goes beyond human agents to include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and multi-channel engagement technologies.

For contact center leaders who want to move forward to make concierge service a reality, here are three ways to get a fast start.

1. Prioritize omni-channel support.

Analysts and market experts have been saying for years now that we're in the Age of the Customer and with the accelerating pace of advancements across technology and communication channels, we've really entered the Age of the Digital Customer. Exceptional customer experienceñ across all communication channels - is essential for the digital consumer. And while this omni-channel approach has been widely known and accepted across enterprise environments, most organizations still struggle to provide a complete omni-channel experience. Siloed operations, manual processes and inflexible, legacy systems present significant barriers. Pair this with rapidly evolving technologies, communication channels, and customer behaviors and expectations and it's no wonder many organizations feel they're behind the omni-channel curve.

Digitally native millennials have paved the way as early adopters of self-servicing communication channels; influencing companies to offer support across email, text, social media, and live chat - But recent studies have found that Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers alike, heavily influenced by ever-connected millennials, are starting to follow suit and become more immersed in technology and connecting digitally as well.

While many customers and demographics have their channel of choice, today's customers expect to be able to easily transition between different channels as well - without having to start the dialogue or interaction all over again. By prioritizing an omni-channel approach, a customer inquiry can start via phone, move to chat, then wrap-up over text - all while maintaining the communication history across all channels and interactions.

What to implement: Adopt a customer experience strategy that puts omni-channel communications at the core, supported across the value chain by a flexible low-code approach. When speed to market and compliance is critical, adopting a cloud strategy with a low-code application platform is essential. Today's contact centers need to curate unique, personalized customer experience across every touchpoint. Off the shelf solutions are unable to adapt as quickly or provide the customization required to compete in today's digital landscape.

2. Master the customer journey by creating one holistic view of the customer.

With so many data-rich systems and communication channels, contact centers need to know what to do with the information they're receiving across all interactions, at every stage of the customer journey, and act on that information in real-time. Contact centers are digitally transforming to support chat, social media, voice, text, and other emerging channels. As these channels begin to handle more transactional requests, the customer interactions handled by agents will become more complex.

Customers expect you to know them better than they know themselves.

According to one study, 72% of customers expect a support agent to know who they are, what they've purchased, and have insight into their previous engagements. But siloed operations and agent tools, legacy systems, and fragmented business processes present a huge challenge for enterprises looking to have that single source of truth when it comes to the customer journey.

Agents need to be empowered to best serve the customer, freeing them from having to reference multiple applications at a time or rely on "swivel chair applications". As a result, this single view of the customer improves the agent experience and efficiency, delivering faster call resolution and improved customer engagement. Contact center managers benefit by faster onboarding of new hires, accelerating the agent's time to productivity, and improving efficiency across the entire contact center environment.

What to implement: Dynamic case management combines data visualization and management, analytics, and collaboration to provide a single, contextualized view of the customer. This is achieved through a single user interface that organizes all the various systems of record and communication channels. This contextualized view - and the ability to act on it seamlessly - is crucial for agents to have a deep understanding of the customer and deliver exceptional customer service.

Contact centers need to understand that empowering agents and igniting major business impact relies on a comprehensive platform approach that bridges front and back office systems and internal and external communication channels to deliver a complete unified view of the customer. This is case management at its core.

3. Pair intelligent automation and agents to foster meaningful customer experiences.

While we're witnessing an emergence of more self-serving and on-demand customer service channels, customers still seek meaningful, personalized and rewarding customer engagement above all else when it comes to customer service. In fact, one recent Harvard Business Review study found that in order to maximize customer value, organizations need to move beyond customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level. The ability for the contact center to engage and connect with customers has quantifiable results.

According to a recent Forrester Report:

"Companies that deliver a better customer experience tend to retain more of their customers, get more incremental purchases from their customers, and attract more new customers through positive word of mouth."

Contact centers need to envision every customer interaction as an opportunity to create a meaningful connection to the customer. In an age of less personal interaction, the one-to-one agent and customer interactions become even more important to impacting customer satisfaction. Enterprise contact centers need to equip the contact center value chain with intelligent automation to improve the agent experience and allow agents to focus on the customer. Improved agent productivity and efficiency increases both agent and customer satisfaction which in turn can have big impacts on the bottom line, including improved Net Promoter Scores, revenue contribution, and agent retention.

So how can the contact centers ensure a personal touch with less personal interaction?

What to implement: Contact centers must reimagine themselves as customer engagement centers and empower their agents with intelligent automation technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and machine learning. RPA enriches human interactions by offloading repetitive tasks and processes to a digital robotic workforce, alleviating agents from mundane, easily automated work so they can focus on providing exceptional service and solving more complex customer issues. Machine learning an AI can also benefit agents and customer interactions by providing AI-assisted guidance, real-time decisioning and recommendations for best next actions and other capabilities like smart routing, custom guided agent scripts, sentiment analysis, and more.

Get started

At a fundamental level, adopting a concierge approach and building a customer engagement strategy fit for today's digital landscape requires intelligent contact centers. Understanding the requirements of your contact center environment, mapping the customer journey, and understanding how to deliver on those expectations is essential groundwork. But ensuring enterprises' make a wise investment in maintaining a competitive edge relies on capabilities built on omni-channel support, intelligent automation, event and model-driven case management, and the flexibility to deploy, change, and deliver on a consistent customer experience now and in the future.

Discover how Appian makes it easy for organizations to build next generation contact center applications that accelerate customer experience, increase agent efficiency, and deliver business impact.

The Appian Intelligent Contact Center Platform