Just like that 2024 is upon us and while looking back at 2023 can help us understand what to expect with CX in the new year, it can also hinder our thinking.
While we dive into what new trends and technology we will see, it is great to understand what won’t change in the contact center: a never-ending quest to elevate the customer experience while driving efficiency. That is what every contact center decision is based upon.
Staffing Shortages in The Contact Center Won’t Go Away Without Action
The hurdle our industry has faced repeatedly is staffing or the lack of staffing available. The symptoms caused by lack of staffing are a long list ranging from low CSAT scores, long hold times, customer attrition, and more. Companies looked at ways to combat staffing issues last year, this is the year that implementation and execution matter.
Staffing will continue to steer contact center strategies, prompting a serious investment in AI, automation, and outsourcing. The increasing integration of AI-powered solutions, such as chatbots and advanced machine learning is streamlining operations and enabling personalized customer interactions.
Gartner forecasts that this is the year, by 2025, 80% of customer service organizations will utilize generative AI to boost agent productivity and customer experience. While that is pretty general in defining “generative AI” the lesson is clear: AI is part of the future in the contact center industry. It is not THE future, only part of it because it will take multiple strategies to combat the staffing issues and elevate customer experience.
- The shortage is universal across industries, 82% of emergency dispatch services are understaffed.
- It will take a combination of automation, AI, and outsourcing to combat the staffing issues most contact centers are facing.
- Alleviating the pressure on current staff is pivotal in retaining your current staff.
AI Adoption at a 101 Level
With the explosion of solutions coming out over the past year, it probably felt like drinking from a firehose without ever quenching your thirst. Every month a new AI-based solution was introduced as the cure-all. The industry may leave you feeling that everyone except your contact center is at an advanced 301 level. The reality is more companies plan on deploying AI than have deployed AI.
AI does not need to be difficult when you follow a simple formula.
- Start with the challenges your company is faced with and attack the biggest one.
- Categorize the solutions available as generative or analytical (see below).
- Match the symptom to the solution.
- Rinse and repeat!
It is important to follow what is best for your contact center. We have seen far too many underutilized solutions and platforms in a rush to keep up with others. Leaving agents and leaders frustrated while CFOs question the ROI of the expense.
When you implement analytical AI like conversational analytics, this enables you to listen to what your customers are telling you. Then take action. Simply focus on the cure for the symptom, and that cure may not be AI for everything.
The Two Main Types of AI Benefitting The Contact Center
Generative AI is responsive and can generate high-quality text, images, responses, and content and utilize logic based on how it is trained. This is the foundation for AI agents, conversational AI, AI-assisted IVR, and a lot of the customer-facing AI you hear about.
Analytical AI analyzes large amounts of data and processes it quickly, sometimes in real-time, and creates actionable insights from that data. For example, you can take all of your historical recorded conversations and current conversations from all channels, create a dashboard, and be able to organize that data by anything you imagine. Geographical, time of day, subject, tenure of relationship, you get the idea.
- More contact centers planned on implementing AI than implemented in 2023 for a variety of reasons.
- Ignore the noise, gather data and let your customers (through that data) tell you which direction to take.
Optimization Through Point Solutions
Rip and replace is a term that has gone hand in hand within our industry. Historically stemming from traditional players battling over seats, it was common in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s to take out the old Mitel system and replace that with a Shore-Tel or vice versa.
With the general plug-and-play and open AI world, solutions are starting to play nicely together on the contact center playground. Look at Salesforce, the leading CRM solution integrating with many leading platforms. Point solutions are a nice complement to those platforms.
Usually, a platform will handle 75-85% of what a contact center needs. The remaining gap is sometimes filled with a platform solution that may not be a perfect fit for the company. This causes frustration, inefficiencies, and a drop in CSAT scores.
With InflowCX being platform agnostic, we can offer several point solutions to complement the platform to alleviate the issue. These point solutions not only improve current systems but also introduce new functionalities, making contact centers more efficient and responsive.
- Assessment and Integration: Identify areas within existing systems that can benefit from point solutions.
- Continuous Improvement: Adopt an iterative approach to enhancement, constantly seeking feedback and making incremental improvements.
- “Rip and Replace” and complete platform overhauls will happen less while point solutions are deployed to maximize ROI.
Outsourcing Will Play a Key Role in The Contact Center
Before we get into why this will be trending this year, we need you to know that your company is not too complex for outsourcing! If NASA can onboard outside help, chances are you can as well. Many of the misconceptions about outsourcing remain, however, the almost universal feedback we hear from clients who have utilized outsourcing is “Why didn’t we do this sooner!”
Outsourcing is a critical strategy that comes in many different varieties from seasonal help to transitioning entire departments there are solutions for every industry and company.
The labor shortage is not going away, and companies are looking for ways to maintain or increase their customer experience. Outsourcing will provide that much-needed relief in 2024 for organizations looking to think differently.
It is easy to think of the contact center industry in silos, as though AI and automation are separate from outsourcing. The reality is that many outsourcing partners have adopted the same AI and automation solutions that are available to contact centers. They specialize in all things contact centers so it only makes sense that they would adopt technology to accelerate their ability to scale.
- Partner Selection: Carefully select outsourcing partners that align with the company’s values and quality standards.
- Performance Monitoring: Establish clear KPIs and regular reviews to ensure outsourced services meet expected standards.
- Call John Glantz Our VP of CX Transformation who specializes in this.
InflowCX Will Continue to Lead with Customer-Centricity
As much as the contact center world changes, one thing will always remain our dedication to our customers first. We never lead with a platform or partner; we start with getting to know your business and strategizing from there.
We will always lead with open ears first because that has been our keystone for success. While our predictions are sometimes spot on, and sometimes spotty, we are ready to help your company control its future in the contact center. Contact us today to bring predictability and clarity to your company’s contact center future!