Why Data Will Power the Future of the Contact Center

Why Data Will Power the Future of the Contact Center TW

Until now, the omnichannel, cloud-based, 360-degree customer view-enabled contact center was mostly a pipe dream, touted by technology vendors and thought leaders, with a majority of businesses falling short of this gold standard. Most customers still expect to fight their way through a dead-end IVR, endure multiple transfers, and repeat their information to agents who have zero context on who they are or why they’re calling.

As technology grows more robust, however, more and more businesses are starting to overcome these bottlenecks, more of which are related to a lack of data transparency. Businesses are using AI and machine learning-enabled platforms to unify their data across the organization, route customers based not only on queues but context, and design self-service platforms that facilitate end-to-end support.

Treat Every Customer Touchpoint as a Potential Data Source

For many businesses, their website is the seat of personalization. By collecting data on customer’s viewing history and purchasing habits, they can provide personalized recommendations and proactive support based on context, such as offering help through web chat to a customer who’s having trouble completing an online purchase. But a truly omnichannel experience is one where personalization follows the customer, whether they’re on the phone with an agent, shopping online or visiting in-store.

This means that data you collect from your website must be reconciled with the customer’s activity in all other channels to build a complete 360-degree view of each individual customer. When an agent interacts with a customer, regardless of channel, they should be able to see the customer’s buying history, sentiment and previous interactions (across every channel), status of their orders and customer’s preferred channel.

Says Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum, “Imagine having a conversation with a friend but not being able to remember anything about that friend, or any interactions you’ve had with them previously. It would be difficult to have a truly personal or meaningful conversation. That’s how traditional retailers have historically interacted with their customers, with a large blind spot around customer preferences and history.”

Optimize Human to AI Interactions

“Agents for complex issues, AI for simple ones” is an oft-repeated principle for successful human-AI interactions in the contact center. However, customers still find themselves calling when a chatbot does not function as anticipated. For this reason and others, the contact center is often still considered a cost center rather than a revenue driver. Once businesses learn how to optimize their self-service channels, while giving customers recourse to contact a live agent if needed, agents will automatically become the go-to touchpoint for complex issues and expert recommendations, and thereby come to be perceived as subject matter experts.

Without the burden of responding to repetitive inquiries, agents can focus on building a relationship with the customer. As Birnbaum says, “It will become the customer service agent’s job to reflect the company’s mission and values, and act as a trusted partner. The changing expectations of consumers means that customers want to do business with companies they believe in, feeling as though they are a part of the brand. Customer service agents can help do just that, through both proactive and reactive support.

To learn more about common blockers contact centers must overcome to power the future of customer service, download the CCW Special Report on the Customer Contact Vision for 2025.

Download CCW Report


Why Personalized Customer Service? Because Consumers Demand It

The modern customer wants to buy a product, but they don’t want to be treated like a transaction. They’re expecting an experience—and if that experience is a positive one, then a one-time purchase often becomes a lifelong interaction with a company that understands their wants, needs, pain points and history. Unfortunately, most companies are still living in the early-digital Dark Ages, treating their customers like tickets in a queue rather than individuals with real desires and concerns.

According to a recent Kustomer survey, three-quarters of consumers aged 25 to 34, expect personalized communication from retailers, while only 60% aged 65 and older agreed with this notion. This means that personalization is becoming the new norm, especially with the younger generation, and will only continue to grow.

But instead of marshalling their vast stores of data to proactively identify and engage specific customers, many companies are still relying on outdated customer service models that waste their money and customers’ time. This misguided approach frustrates customers—and can hurt a businesses’ bottom line. Poor customer service costs companies $62 billion a year, and lack of personalization prompted 41% of Americans to switch brands in the last year alone.

On the flip side, companies that truly know their customers—everything from their previous purchases, customer service conversations, and preferred channels of communication—often experience double-digit growth, and nearly half of customers spend more when their experiences are tailored to their particular wants and needs.

To retain customers in an increasingly saturated and competitive digital marketplace, companies must learn to quickly and seamlessly address customer needs and concerns as they arise. In other words, they need to use real-time data to give them a 360-degree view of their customers—and then use that data to deliver relevant, personalized, helpful interactions that make the customer feel seen and heard. This approach will transform customers from flashing lights on hold to real people. And when customers are treated like people, they’re more likely to become not only repeat purchasers, but your most loyal cheerleaders.

To learn how to achieve personalized support in three simple steps, download our full personalization guide.

 

The Connected Customer Experience: Leveraging Data to Drive Hyper-Personalized Experiences and Build Trust

To say we’re living in a customer-centric age is an understatement: companies who fail to prioritize the customer experience are outpaced by their CX-leading competitors by nearly 80%. Additionally, more than half of companies have experienced a serious drop in consumer trust, resulting in an estimated missed $180 billion in potential revenues, according to this Accenture study. There are numerous reasons consumers lose trust in brands they once knew, loved, and purchased from frequently, but 71% of consumers say poor customer service contributes to that trust erosion.

Unfortunately, many tactics that once served an organization well in engendering a customer-first culture simply fail to keep up with the enormous increase in both customer data, and use of connected devices. Two and a half quintillion bytes of data are created each day at current pace, and Gartner predicts there will be more than six connected devices per person as early as 2020. This device proliferation and increase in data results in an overwhelming number of touchpoints that must be tracked and connected to the customer’s buying journey. It’s a tall order, but the organizations who will win are those who can use all of this data to scale the customer experience quickly, efficiently, and effectively, and all on the customer’s terms. It’s not just enough to collect data: it needs to be the right data that can be acted on in the moment.

Working with the customer where they’re comfortable

The digital age has changed where, when, and how customers interact with a brand. What was once a simple cycle of seeing an ad, making a purchase, and repeating, has shifted into a looping journey with the potential for numerous friction points that can turn a customer away from a brand all too quickly. McKinsey describes this journey through four critical areas: consideration, evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase experience. Instead of assuming a consumer will immediately be faithful to the previous brand purchased, McKinsey states that today’s buyer continues to consider new brands available to them. McKinsey adds the element of the Loyalty Loop, which fast tracks future purchases, but in order for a brand to effectively qualify for this shortcut, they must have fostered lasting loyalty with the customer. And 95% of consumers say customer service is important in their choice of brand loyalty. In other words, helping a customer find the answer they need quickly is a significant indicator of whether or not a brand has continued ownership of that customer’s wallet share.

An additional complication is the increase in possible touchpoint locations: digital searches, email, social media, website, and more. In fact, 31% of millennial customers looking for help reach out to a company via Twitter. It’s important for an organization to connect all relevant touchpoints to a unified customer profile in the event of a customer service interaction, or they run the risk of further fracturing the experience and the relationship.

Brands must be willing to look critically at their existing systems to evaluate if they’re truly prepared to handle the significant amounts of data, devices, touchpoints, and the unified view necessary to provide a seamless customer experience. Tools driven by AI and machine learning are the only way to ensure a business can scale to keep pace.

The expectations for customer agents have never been higher; below are ways that AI magnifies data to bolster a support team so they can create optimal customer experiences.

Automate processes and tasks

KPMG has estimated that the service cost reduction with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is as great as 75%. With the average cost of service centers continuing to rise — voice is $12 per contact, and live chat is $5 per contact — shifting resources to self-service through automation and a knowledge base can result in huge savings. Automation tools can decrease costs to just 10¢ per contact.

It isn’t simply the dollars and cents saved, however, that make automation so impactful to an organization. In one use case, automation can vastly improve worldwide organizations needing to route certain language speakers to agents who can communicate in that language. Additionally, by routing common questions and needs to a self-service portal or base that can both quickly and effectively solve a customer’s problems, agents are freed up to more quickly take on the more complex, nuanced issues that customers face.

While skeptics might be concerned about customers valuing human interaction above all else, according to this report from Statista, 88% of US consumers expect an online self-service portal. In fact, bringing numerous types of customer data touchpoints into one place — and from any resource — creates a more seamless, personalized experience for that customer. This method allows for both speed and a personalized approach to be achieved, and on the customer’s terms.

Augment existing agent support

When a customer dials into a service call center, provides significant information regarding who they are and why they’re calling, and is then directed to an agent for further assistance, the worst possible scenario is that customer then having to repeat all of that information…again. When considering a customer may have also reached out through email and even social media, it becomes even more crucial to use data in the right way. Much like being retargeted by an ad for a product you purchased yesterday, today’s customers are smart and expect organizations to be intelligent with their data. If, after interacting with a chatbot and providing all relevant data, a customer’s issue is escalated to a human agent, the customer expects an agent to already have the necessary context to properly manage the issue. That context should include relevant information like shipping number, previous conversations from both online and offline sources, and previous purchases made, combined into a unified customer profile.

Not only does the full customer data view aid with escalating issues directly, it can even be used to provide recommendations to the agents before even interacting with the customer. Through AI technology, an agent can be given an automated recommendation for how to best handle the customer’s request, eliminating both time and mismanagement; thereby improving the quality, time, and ease of service for both the customer and the agent.

When AI is used to capture data for context, the technology and the human agent become critical partners in providing the right customer experience. It empowers an agent to be a true specialist, who can change the customer’s outcome in a way automation cannot. The marriage between the two is what elevates the customer experience to a level that promotes long-term loyalty.

Proactively boost future outcomes

As a part of the new expectations customers have for service-related interactions, customers expect their preferred brands to be proactive in handling potential issues. For an organization this can be as simple as customer communication that informs of impending weather that will impact a shipment, or as sophisticated as predicting volume needed quarters in advance based on real-time interactions. In order to accomplish this, however, all relevant data must be gathered in a location where it can be acted upon quickly.

One use case could even enable leads and managers to get ahead of issues in-the-moment. For example, as a call is happening, the voices can be translated into text, then analyzed and graded in real time to measure key indicators that identify a call going south. Instead of arbitrarily choosing which calls to QA, or to QA all calls after-the-fact (and risk missing the ones requiring assistance), AI and machine learning can alert a team lead exactly when to jump in and improve the customer interaction as it occurs.

Antiquated technology looks reactively at improvement; the best customer experience requires proactive use of data as the touchpoint interaction occurs, rolling it into the most personalized experience possible.

Customers who have a good experience are three and a half times more likely to repurchase, and five times more likely to recommend to friends and relatives than those customers who have a poor experience. And 59% of respondents to the Microsoft State of global customer service report say that customer service expectations are higher than they were last year. In order for an organization to scale to meet the growing demand, they must provide a seamless omnichannel experience that connects all touchpoints, automates tasks and processes for maximum efficiency, and proactively uses real-time customer data to further create the best experience. Doing so will empower your agents, and build the trust your customers need to remain loyal for years to come.

Connecting all the data to relevant touchpoints and driving a hyper-personalized experience will change how your customers experience you and your product. Tune into our webinar with guest speaker from Forrester where we break down how you can create an elevated customer experience.

 

Get the Most Out of Your Kustomer Contact Data with PieSync

Cloud-based technology has revolutionized the way small businesses work. Nowadays, entrepreneurs can access top platforms without spending a fortune or hiring a team of developers. Next to the dozens of benefits cloud applications offer, there comes a challenge: Not all apps “talk” to each other.

Most business tools collect valuable customer and prospect information in different stages of a customer’s journey. But when the apps you use across the sales process are not communicating, you’re left with the inevitable data silos.

To prevent this problem, Kustomer offers several integrations with leading applications, including PieSync (who by the way is connected with 180+ other business tools).

What’s PieSync?

PieSync is a contact synchronization solution for business tools that works 2-way and in real time. Wait… What? Let’s break it down: PieSync consolidates contacts from multiple cloud-based applications in sync. The “2-Way” means that whenever you add or modify a contact in one app, that update is synced back to the other app, and vice versa. The value of bidirectional syncing is that your data will be accurate across all your apps.

Translation: no more out-of-date contact data and no more import/export!

PieSync in Action

With PieSync, you can enrich Kustomer to create a 360Âş view with data from your CRM, Marketing Automation, Payment processing platform, etc. PieSync allows you to automatically translate all types of data attributes into Kustomer, providing you with the most up-to-date information. This data can be used in different ways to automate, personalize and prioritize your Kustomer conversations and keep your ticket management organized.

By enabling seamless access to rich data, PieSync allows you to exponentially increase your customers and lead engagement rates. Thanks to its Intelligent Rules, you are able to set up more intuitive and complex conditions to automatically create and update your best-of-breed cloud applications. PieSync also supports field mapping to help you associate information fields, including custom fields.

 

Kustomer in Action

Many businesses around the world are working with more than one business application. Wouldn’t it be nice to create your own ecosystem of best-in-class applications?

By leveraging valuable data from many different data sources, you can create a highly personalized experience for your current and new customers. Not only will you be able to create a more dynamic user experience, but you will also be able to define more efficient Business Rules, conditional branching and multi-step workflows that will allow your team to be more productive.

Some examples:

  • Assigning conversations to specific users or teams based on CRM ownership
  • Prioritizing customers accordingly based on billing information
  • Assigning conversations to the right agent based on language
  • Sending automated responses based on the Contact Type of the CRM
  • Updating customer attributes based on conversation attributes and syncing them to your other applications

Top syncs for Kustomer users

Accounting Apps:

  • Kustomer and Quickbooks
  • Kustomer and Xero
  • Kustomer and Chargebee

 

CRMs:

  • Kustomer and Salesforce
  • Kustomer and HubSpot
  • Kustomer and Copper
  • Kustomer and Pipedrive

 

VoIP apps:

  • Kustomer and RingCentral

 

Check all the apps you can sync with!

Configure a connection between Kustomer and another app

 

Need help configuring your sync? Visit PieSync’s Support Center!

About the Author:

Claudia Martinez is a Digital Content Marketer at PieSync. This tech-savvy communicator and marketing expert, creates awesome content and shares on social media what’s going on in PieSync.

Big Data Isn’t Enough For Customer Experience

In today’s technologically focused world, there is a surplus of consumer data. In 2017, annual revenue from the global big data market was expected to reach $33.5 billion, with predictions suggesting this could double in size within the following four years. 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past two years alone. Every minute, we create 200 million emails in addition to videos, photos, files, and apps, all contributing to an exponential rise in data creation. Cloud computing traffic was forecast to reach 320 exabytes per month in North America alone and as the amount of consumer data increases, businesses resort to storing their data in the cloud. It’s the cheapest it’s ever been to store — over the past couple of years the cost of data storage has declined as much as 15–20%.

The cost of data storage continues to decline

Not only do companies have large amounts of data storage, but now they also have a large number of services they use. The SaaS market is expected to grow 20.1% to reach $46.3 billion in 2017. We’ve found companies using a myriad of services early on, from tracking applications like Mixpanel and Segment.io, to order applications like Shopify and Magento, marketing tools like Marketo and Hubspot, and internal admin tools. As a result, customer data is scattered across multiple external systems. Companies have rich customer information which independently provides business value, but most of the customer information and data exists in siloed systems.

Data is one of the more critical components of information that companies can use to leverage and better understand their customers to help achieve their goals. It’s easy to compile more customer data and store it, but with data surplus comes the challenge of consolidating, analyzing, and understanding customer data. Companies are often storing a ton of data in order to analyze it, finding customer trends and behavioral insights. Data storage occurs whether or not they have the tools today, or are simply preparing for the ability to analyze in the future.

When data is consolidated, companies can get valuable insights, which is easier said than done. Some businesses hire data engineers and data scientists to build data pipelines, analyze data, and provide insight into the business and their customers. These teams go through the expensive, time consuming, complicated process because they understand the value of the insights locked within the data. Major companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Target analyze everything about their customers buying habits, so much so that they can accurately predict pregnancy due dates.

Data consolidation can also play an important role when it comes to improving the customer experience. As a service provider, we often find that companies have integration needs that include common services such as Shopify or Magento as well as their own proprietary systems that store important customer data and historical information. We’ve seen companies go to the extent of forwarding of orders by BCC-ing their support address in order to populate search results for those customers in the future in the event the customer called in about an issue with an order. Now, businesses can consolidate their data by integrating their applications, from internal to external, into one platform. When all of your customer data is in one place and presented around a customer as the atomic unit, companies can truly see their customer for the first time. Businesses are able to gain value by visualizing their customer data, resulting in stronger analytics and real time actionable insights that can help solve significant issues like customer churn. For example, if a company had an issue where a few customers complained about color inconsistency in an item, their customer service team could search for all orders that were fulfilled using that particular lot number, identifying all customers who received the defect item, and proactively reach out to replace the order before the rest of the customers complained. When only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain, proactively reaching out to the other 96% who didn’t complain, solving their problem, and increasing their lifetime value could have a large impact on your business.

Data integrations help bring data together into one place, which makes it easier to segment your customer data or surface information to you agents. We’ve seen situations where a customer was unable to find an order directly in their ordering system because the system lacked some of the customer’s contact information or had an incorrect spelling of their last name. When searching for that order from a centralized location with the data integrated with services that enrich the customer profile, that customer was able to find the order information properly.

Additionally, customers expect agents to know everything about them: recent purchase history, products they own, questions they’ve already asked, etc. Agent’s want to be empowered with the above data, as well as additional data points around app usage, buyer journey, self-help history, and more, all without having to switch between multiple apps and tabs. By integrating their many sources of data into one place and orienting it around the customer, agents have instant access to the necessary data and end-customers have a better experience. This empowers service reps to be more productive and informed, giving them the tools they need to provide superior service.

For many companies, the biggest hurdle around data consolidation is effort, time, and money. At Kustomer, our vision is to overcome that hurdle by easily providing companies with a window to their customers, giving them the ability to get answers to the multitude of questions that arise every day. We want to give customers the ability to slice and dice data in interesting ways to gain deeper, actionable insights that provide business value.

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