Customer Experience is one of the fastest moving industries anywhere in the world at present. I know that if you have not looked at the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry recently then you might think it is little more than contact centers, but take another look. Contact centers are often a testing ground for emerging technologies and right now there is more emerging than ever before.
This is not a comprehensive list, I don’t want to bore you, but without even resorting to Google I can think of many different and exciting technologies that are changing how modern BPO operates. This is what a modern contact center executive needs to be managing:
• Natural Language Processing is allowing customers to speak naturally to bots that really understand what is being said – and can also respond!
• Artificial Intelligence is supporting agents in the contact center by listening to customers and giving the agent the right answers without them ever needing to say “could you hold while I go and check on that please?”
• Artificial Intelligence is also creating smarter personalization so brands know what the customer likes and when they are most likely to want to buy.
• Robotic Process Automation is reducing mundane repetitive tasks by getting bots to manage all those clunky data transfers that used to involve 30 keystrokes.
• Chatbots are there 24/7 ready to answer customers immediately and handle basic questions.
• Machine learning is helping companies to learn about customer questions and needs – imagine being able to record every question every customer ever asks, with the solution, and then to make that knowledge easily available to every agent.
• Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are allowing customers to interact with brands in new and exciting ways, like the IKEA app allowing customers to “see” new furniture in their home before they purchase it.
• Cloud computing is creating the opportunity for virtual contact centers that have all the functionality of a traditional contact center, but without the building – or rent. Add in some Gig CX agents and you can have a functioning contact center in days.
• Big Data and Data Analytics are allowing companies to really understand how their customers behave and what they want most.
As I said, I could go on, but it would get boring. The sheer amount of new technology in contact centers is not the point. The point is that all these emerging technologies are finding use cases inside the brand to customer relationship faster than in most other areas of business. The customer relationship is where sales happen, so BPOs always need to refresh the armory with new tools and weapons as new innovations emerge.
But a major problem with all this digitization is that the technology and innovation is often presented as the solution. IKEA doesn’t sell great furniture just because they have a cool AR feature on their app, but these features improve the customer experience and certainly create more sales opportunities and greater loyalty. A great customer experience and great products need to underpin all of these technologies, but so often I hear BPOs talking about innovation as the solution itself.
The customer doesn’t care which system you use, so long as you deliver a great experience. When a BPO executive starts talking in jargon about all their new features just ask – what is the business benefit? How does this help the end customer? Can these tools remove friction and create a seamless, more integrated, experience?
If they can’t offer a clear and simple answer then look elsewhere for BPO advice because nobody needs any more vaporware. The world is full of it already.