Digitization can offer many advantages to contact centres provided it’s implemented correctly.  Digital customer service responds to customers’ needs for easily accessible multi-channel interactions, often on-the-go via mobile devices. When done right it can save time and money for both the business and customers. Digitization is generally tasked to the technology department and technicians are focused on the task of getting technical details of the implementation right. The result is that the impact to employees, the operations of the contact centre or to customers calling in can be overlooked. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, here are 4 important considerations:

Understanding complexity – what is most important?

While technology is capable of many things, organic flexibility is not always one of them. To change one small aspect of a system can impact functionalities in many other areas. Therefore it’s vital in the initial planning phases to have a good understanding of the complexities involved and what impacts at different points, so that implementation can be prioritized according to what’s most important to customers.

In a contact centre the primary focus should be on customer expectations and simplifying things as much as possible. Ask the question: What’s most important to the customer and how can technology be used to deliver that?

For example: Having a system that reduces holding time is a great concept, but not if it means dropped calls. Will it be easier for customers to send an email? Consider using queue busting features that acknowledge queries and provides a time frame for when they can expect to hear back from the call centre and gives an a call back option. This can save customers time holding on, waiting to speak to an advisor.

Customer perspectives

Surveys show that customers want options – multi-channels with which to communicate with businesses. Not every query is that detailed that it needs a conversation. Providing FAQ’s online or forums where people can see other similar queries can reduce your call volume and create a win:win for everyone. Consider the convenience to customers of live chat on the company website. These are two examples of simple ways in which customers can be served online.

Also consider that generally customers don’t like change. If they are used to interacting in a certain way and that’s no longer available it may frustrate them. Especially if they are older generation. If you have a broad demographic of customers be sure to consider what’s important to them. Millennials are often completely different customers to Baby Boomers.

Implementation, transition and training

Transitioning from one system to another or implementing new software is generally characterized by flaws and failures. It can be a frustrating time for everyone, customers and employees included. Some companies test their system roll-out over weekends or during off peak times so that they can pick up any glitches in the system before they go live. It is unlikely that technicians will find all the bugs but a phased implementation certainly has its benefits.

With any new system it’s vital to take time to train all employees so that they are empowered to accept and use the new technology more readily. If your team can see the benefits then they will help make the transition easier for customers too.

Customer communication

It can be a big mistake to surprise customers with new technology, especially as it can’t guarantee to be flawless. The best way to serve customers through a transition or the implementation of new technology is to communicate clearly and regularly with them.

Use social media channels, email and voice messages to communicate what the changes will be, why they are being implemented, and most importantly how they will benefit customers.  Have information available online to explain all the changes and how customers can navigate through them.  If you have the budget, create marketing campaigns. This can serve to attract new customers as well as help retain existing customers.

The easier you make it for your customers, the more they will embrace the change. Think of social media as an example, this is great interactive tool as customers can comment or ask questions and you can easily spread the news of upcoming changes to many customers at once with very little cost.

Communicating with customers is really important especially through technology transitions because it demonstrates that you value their experience and want them to benefit from the changes as much as your company will.

A survey by McKinsey indicates that the digital experience provides better customer satisfaction compared to traditional channels. The benefit to businesses is that there are many creative ways in which technology can be used to engage with customers and increase brand loyalty. However, ideas are only as good as the implementation and only effective if they deliver on customer expectations.  Keep a strong customer focus, from planning through implementation and it can help make your contact centre more effective.