The Evolution of Communication for Customer Care
As we celebrate our 10 years in business and reflect on the technological changes that have taken shape, we talk to Vishwanath Srinivasan, IT Director EMEA at Concentrix, about the evolution of the customer care sector and the adoption of technologies that will transform the way in which companies interact with their customers for the next decade to come.
Q: As a leader in the customer care segment, Concentrix needs to remain constantly aware of technologies coming down the line. How challenging is that at a time when it seems like there are new developments every week?
A: It is challenging and at the same time exciting. We are always keeping a watchful eye on emerging trends and new technology. For us, it starts with our clients’ business challenges. It is important that we stay technology agnostic so that we can ensure that we are applying the right solution for our client’s challenge, as one size does not fit all.
It’s always tempting to invest heavily in a particular tool or technology, particularly ones that appear revolutionary or are the latest hot topic. We have to remain objective and be wary of ‘fads’ and take a long-term view of all the options.
In such a rapidly changing landscape, it’s sensible to build mechanisms that allow for flexibility in the long-term plan. With the adoption of new technology and platforms, investments are also made in training, process and operational delivery. It’s critical that we always guide ourselves and our clients in the right direction.
Q: Can you think of particular technologies that have had a radical impact on the customer care sector?
Many technologies are impacting customer care. In the last five years Analytics and Process Optimisation had a significant impact on both the cost of serving customers and the improvement in care quality.
More recently, the focus has moved to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), both of which facilitate the automation of many mundane and increasingly complex tasks. The increased complexity of mobile phones with Augmented Reality (AR) and facial recognition could make it easier to service customers remotely. And of course Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding, which will change the nature of care significantly in terms of access to data, proactive service and nature of contracts.
Q: In your experience, how receptive are your clients to hearing about (and adopting) new technologies such as webchat, artificial intelligence?
A: Our teams are talking more and more to clients around AI and particularly chat bots. Customers are certainly looking to deploy and establish more AI solutions. This has fast become basic hygiene now, particularly in areas where there is a clear value in reducing costs or time.
Other technologies, such as Blockchain, that requires a fundamental change in the way we work, and require acceptance and contribution from multiple stakeholders, will see slower adoption.
As you would expect, differing levels of interest are very much dependant on industry. For example, highly regulated industries such as financial services and insurance have a higher interest in automation, especially from a quality perspective. Other industries including travel and retail are heavily focused on mobile. Each industry is driven by the dynamics within their markets.
Q: How do you see advancements like artificial intelligence affecting the performance of the contact centre?
A: AI has three key aspects that impact the contact centre.
• Automation: This takes routine tasks away from agent staff who can focus on higher value added services. With automation, more time can be spent applying expert knowledge that is wrapped around the technology to glean more insight and optimise technology, processes and customer care experiences accordingly.
• Assisted or Augmented Intelligence: AI can help and guide agents in real time to ensure that information is readily available to provide the highest quality experience.
• Learning: Together with ML we can now analyse current and historic data to keep tracking what works and what does not and optimise into a strong customer experience platform solution.
Q: Multi-channel is one trend that’s not going away, but do you think any one channel will dominate?
With growing customer expectation of a seamless conversation regardless of channel, channels are chosen for convenience of the specific interaction and situation (i.e. at home, mobile, etc). An omni-channel approach is often seen with the preferred channel being highly situational and chosen by the customer. Again, this is also industry specific, where consumers interact in different ways depending on the specific customer care cases.
The mobile phone with its advancements in AR/CV/VR will dominate. Personal interactions have a great place in our lives and technology that facilitates those or makes those interactions feel real will gain traction.
Q: Is there room for new channels that we’re not seeing yet?
A: Absolutely. Every device will gain in intelligence and become part of the customer’s extended eco-system. We view all these new devices in the context of analytics as the new channel that helps us predict and make sense of what the customer wants.
Q: Security is now a headline topic for all organisations. What security technologies are making the biggest impact on the contact centre sector e.g. voice recognition/ biometrics technology?
A: Security technologies that will enable contact centres to avoid exposure to sensitive data will make a big impact. Typically contact centres process data from client applications and handle a lot of personal and sensitive personal information; this is a risk not only in terms of data leakage but also meeting regulations like GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA and HITECH. Solutions that will help limit companies’ exposure to sensitive personal information like data masking, tokenisation, data anonymisation – will help reduce the overall risk and gain assurance from clients and customers.
Q: You’re an outsource partner to clients all over the world, helping them develop operational efficiencies, but what technologies does Concentrix use to streamline processes, reduce costs or grow business?
It’s important to optimise the process before you automate, so optimisation and process monitoring/management technology is a fundamental building block for us. Data integration and analytics technologies are also key foundational technologies.
Artificial Intelligence, automation and analytics are also core areas that we focus on in order to streamline processes and reduce cost. As we grow our business, and focus on what we call the Connected Customer, we are also looking at emerging technologies that will help us re-imagine the care of Connected Customers using IoT and AR.
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