Frost & Sullivan’s 2022 IT Decision-Maker Survey reveals that among the most crucial corporate goals, the top 3 focus on customers. With rising costs sweeping the world, it is surprising to see cost-related goals fall in prominence. Enriching customer experience (CX), improving brand equity, and promoting digital commerce are cited as the top 3 objectives for 2022, moving the contact center, often seen as a cost center, to the front and center of business growth. Another big surprise is the rise of attracting and retaining talent from the bottom corporate goal to number 4. In an industry where agent turnover has long been an issue, companies now have an opportunity to turn the tide by adopting the latest contact center technologies that support and empower agents.
The contact center is now a multifaceted hub of CX management that fulfills a broad range of business functions, including customer service, technical support, marketing, and sales. In addition, most companies offer myriad channels to support customers anywhere, anytime. This support includes voice, live chat, email, social media messaging, and self-service tools. According to Frost & Sullivan’s Nancy Jamison, industry director, “To be a winner in this increasingly complex industry means being able to provide an extensive array of integrated solutions on a modern platform that takes advantage of the cloud and AI technologies.”
Let’s explore why customers and employees are top of mind in 2022, and how IT decision-makers plan to achieve these goals this year.
Reaping the Benefits of Innovation without Capital Investments
Figure 1 shows that as companies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the top challenges that IT professionals face in 2022 include supporting remote employees, providing stable and reliable networks, and dealing with security concerns.
The latest evolution of cloud technology allows companies to move contact centers to the cloud more agilely to tackle the issues listed above and, at the same time, provide flexibility and scalability in uncertain times, including access to innovative features that the latest AI technologies deliver.
AI technologies have had a significant impact on the breadth and richness of contact center portfolios, deepening analytics capabilities, broadening self-service options, enabling process automation, and bringing intelligence to performance and workforce management. These robust portfolios help companies reach their CX objectives, notwithstanding the growing volume of demands from customers.
AI – Beyond the World of Chatbots
AI technology is driving investments in self-service tools, with 78% of the companies surveyed expecting to support this channel by the end of 2022 (see figure 2).
Although many companies are focused on implementing chatbots simply to deflect calls, AI offers a far more effective way to elevate self-service tools by continually learning, training, and building on the insights needed to automate even more tasks. These insights, driven by rich data, make self‐service a powerful channel. Smarter self‐service channels address today’s customers’ needs and allow agents to focus on complex tasks and deliver a better CX.
AI can also support agents and reverse the age-old challenge of attrition. Year after year, attaining and retaining talent have been at the bottom of business goals. Our 2022 survey reveals that disruptions speed-up technology adoption, and with a dire shortage of talent over the past year, companies finally recognize they need to make employee satisfaction a top priority.
More than 40% of the companies surveyed plan to invest in solutions that allow employees to make their own or better decisions, provide scheduling preference capabilities, and improve employee training and development. AI infused into workforce management and training tools can deliver on these intentions to assist agents in improving their performance, which simultaneously makes their jobs easier and more rewarding. AI-assist technologies represent a game-changer for agent and customer retention by collecting valuable, actionable information from the self-service journey.
Innovation that Matters: Technology-enabled Insights
A key element of delivering excellent CX is mining the tremendous amount of data companies own for the precise information needed to deliver personalized customer care. Businesses must leverage the wealth of available data residing in many places to fully understand ever-changing customer needs and meet their top corporate objectives, which are focused on the customer. Top contact center executives reveal that leveraging data-driven insights is a strategic imperative, but they say while their data is rich, their insights are poor. And so forward-thinking companies want to have an entire ecosystem in place to collect, process, and turn data into actionable insights.
NICE, a leader in the contact center industry and recipient of Frost & Sullivan’s Best Practices award as 2022 Company of the Year in the North American Contact Center Market, has developed one of the broadest portfolios in the industry, bringing together real-time interaction management, advanced analytics, and employee engagement tools in solutions that address all market segments.
The company’s latest innovations hone in on how its customers’ CX organization can stay ahead of the curve. NICE CXone, a complete unified CX platform, leverages AI end-to-end to help businesses meet consumers wherever their journey begins; enable smart, data-driven self-service resolution; and prepare agents to successfully resolve any needs event.
NICE’s Enlighten AI, the industry’s only native AI ‘brain’ that is purpose-built for CX, harnesses the predictive power of all CXone data to make every journey smarter, personalized, and successful. Pre-built models and intelligent capabilities are embedded in every CXone application, including the following:
- Projecting personalized knowledge from internet search through agent assistance
- Powering smart self-service that continuously improves
- Connecting people on a personal level to optimize outcomes
- Guiding agents in real-time with behavioral coaching and next-best actions
- Discovering conversational topics and sentiment across all channels
The wealth of data accumulated over time and a deep understanding of customer behavior across channels create more robust automated solutions than those offered by newer market entrants.
NICE promotes a strong focus on digital-first engagement, emphasizing the benefit of empowering agents through the use of process automation and intelligence about the customer.
Enlighten AI is built from one of the world’s largest labeled CX data sets, leveraging all calls, emails, chats, and social media interactions to gain a holistic view of CX. Combining conversational data from all channels, Enlighten AI fuels insights in both the live and virtual workforce. Enlighten XO is a set of specialized AI models that discover automation opportunities from an organization’s existing CX data, allowing companies to build smarter and faster digital self-services.
Enlighten XO analyzes historical voice and text conversations to identify the best automation opportunities and the training data needed to build smart self-services, including the top intents, ideal resolution steps, and optimal process flows. The insights from Enlighten XO make every digital solution smarter, including how to achieve the following:
- Optimize knowledge projection
- Improve automation resolution
- Expand proactive engagement
To meet the accelerating expectations of today’s digital consumers, Enlighten XO identifies the most crucial training data for automation, knowledge management, and proactive engagement so contact centers can build and evolve their service channels. With AI, the guesswork is eliminated, and every interaction continuously contributes to making the system smarter and experiences better.
The Ultimate Goal: Improve Brand Loyalty by Enabling Frictionless Experiences
Convenience and ease of interaction are among the top factors that keep consumers loyal to a brand, and they must be considered when creating processes for any interaction channel. More importantly, providing an effortless experience to customers that move across channels during the same interaction or through multiple events leaves them with a positive brand image. Yet when companies rated important indicators of CX success, customer effort scores ranked at the bottom while customer retention rates climbed to the number 2 position in 2021. Companies are not in sync with what customers want. The expansion of digital customer engagement marks an opportune time to replace old-school interactive voice response solutions (IVRs) and augment sophisticated self‐service solutions with the power of AI and cloud technology.
The Last Word
Rapid cloud adoption has driven the infusion of AI into customer contact. The contact center has become pivotal to building customer relationships and loyalty. The cloud is the vehicle companies need to take advantage of the latest innovations in self-service and agent-assist, without huge investments in on-premises technology. It prevents the need for an overhaul, integration of disparate systems, operational interruptions caused by upgrades, and the latest security breaches. Ultimately, the cloud prepares companies of any size or stage of digital transformation to invest in the latest CX and employee performance solutions and reach their customer-centric corporate objectives, which inevitably leads to operational efficiencies and revenue growth.
NTT 2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report