Bots - the new web browsers?
If today's technology is seen as disruptive, we only see the peak of the iceberg of what's to come. Tomorrow's innovations will bring forth a wide array of new technologies that will pose severe organizational challenges of how companies will engage with their customers.
There is a particular highlight placed on how these emerging technologies will be enhancing customer self-service and how this trend will severely reduce the total number of interactions that usually take place between customers and service representatives.
Traditional conversation channels, particularly those that take place between customers and human agents, is mostly seen as reactionary. New CRM engagement methods, on the other hand, are climbing exponentially. It includes things like chatbots, AI, and social media. The timing and sequencing of channel investments for customer service is the key to going forward and achieve success.
The Future of Customer Interaction
Statistics show that by 2022, over 72% of all customer interaction will involve some form of emerging technology, such as AI, machine-learning apps, chatbots, or mobile messaging. The number will be up from 11% in 2017.
Likewise, 2022 will also be the year when application leaders will have to onboard some 12 still immature customer interaction channels from CRM. Luckily, however, these channels will be rapidly evolving, being less of a problem as time goes on.
It is also important to remember that, while statistics indicate that phone-based communications will drop to just 12% from 41% (as they are now), a human agent will still be involved in one capacity or another when it comes to about 44% of these interactions.
Several factors, however, are blocking this transition of going full digital. Among these, we have things like the legacy IT systems, with some reluctance to shut down these legacy interaction channels, the digital preparedness of customers, their demographics, and the limited steering toward these digital channels.
Tackling These Shifts in Customer Interaction Patterns
As they plan for the various customer service processes, application leaders working on these CRM customer interaction projects need to address the implications that result from a reduced number of customer service channels
They also need to examine their organization's readiness to onboard the previously mentioned 12 emerging customer engagement channel technologies, to set aside the necessary budget, to pave the way and prioritize their accession into the company. Application leaders will have to prepare for a multimodal approach where customer care agents and clients will often engage with each other over two or more channels at the same time.
All of these, however, will bring with them a much higher complexity than what we are currently used to. Even as the strategic importance of these emerging services is increasing, the costs associated with customer service are also growing. By 2020, agents will be expected to handle longer calls and on more complex and thorough subjects than they are today.
It means that, over the coming years, customer service employees will also need to develop the necessary skills to be able to both address the various product issues and also be able to work seamlessly and efficiently across all the 12 channels of communication. For greater flexibility at a lower cost, companies should consider investing in automation, predictive analytics, and robot advisory technologies.
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