When artificial intelligence emerged from the labs and vendors started offering it as a component of their software, many contact-center buyers shied away from it. From their point of view, AI and machine learning tools were new, expensive, relatively untested and had an uncertain use case. This stance was understandable, as contact center professionals are traditionally expected to be risk-averse when deploying technology into their operations. Contact centers are, by design, supposed to be hardened, mission-critical sites of high reliability. There has historically been a bias towards avoiding new technology, deploying only when it has been thoroughly vetted across the industry.
Customer support operations increasingly rely on automation and complex workflow processes to reduce costs and improve experiences. Automation also allows organizations to make their service processes richer, incorporating information and staff from back offices, for example, or embedding conversational tools into contact center processes.
Topics: Customer Experience, embedded analytics, Analytics, Contact Center, natural language processing, AI and Machine Learning, agent management, Customer Experience Management, Field Service, Process Mining, Streaming Analytics, customer service and support
Customer Service & Support (CSS) is a software segment that provides tools for tracking and resolving customer problems, primarily through contact centers. The segment has been mature for decades but today is reinvigorated by a new emphasis on workflows and automation. Vendors, like ServiceNow, have been innovative in developing new technologies for managing self-service and field service, and providing agents with contextually relevant information during interactions. The new technologies brought to bear on this include artificial intelligence (AI) for knowledge search and delivery; agent assist and guidance tools; and SMS-centric customer messaging.
Customer service and support (CSS) is a term with two meanings. Most generally, it refers to the functions of a contact center in handling post-sales customer inquiries that require some effort or action on the part of the business. More specifically, it refers to the elements of the software stack that facilitate those operations, primarily case tracking and trouble ticketing.
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a catch-all term that refers to the collection of customer feedback in various formats. Sometimes this feedback is in the form of quick surveys or reactions to questions like, "Did I resolve your issue today?" or "Would you recommend our service to a friend?" Alternatively, it can be derived from less specific but more numerous data signals that span multiple interactions or across a customer base. Most businesses make an effort to capture some customer feedback.
The pandemic accelerated several trends in the contact-center industry that were already underway, chiefly: moving infrastructure and software applications to the cloud, and rethinking the process of managing agents. One byproduct of these trends is a renewed look at the similarities between business-phone systems (also known as unified communications, or UC) and contact center systems (CC).
Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 market agenda in the expertise area of Customer Experience. Most organizations have some degree of focus on managing how they interact with their customers, but it is often a disjointed and constrained process. Developing an effective customer experience has become an investment priority in recent years as organizations increasingly recognize the importance of good experiences to profitability, customer longevity and advocacy on behalf of brands.
Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Customer Service, Contact Center, Workforce Management, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, AI and Machine Learning, agent management, Customer Experience Management, Field Service
The pandemic has raised the stakes for self-service in every part of the customer journey. In 2020, the customer service industry underwent a shock to its collective system by pulling up stakes and moving agents to remote work. At the same time, consumers moved away from in-person interactions in stores and branches. This systemic disruption has led to longer call wait times and tougher interactions because collaborating and accessing company data systems from outside the office is difficult.
Teradata is not a name that is commonly associated with the customer experience marketplace, but that is likely to change as customer experience (CX) practitioners wrestle with the problems created by the multiple streams of data thrown off by the many applications and customer touchpoints they have to manage. Teradata’s Vantage CX is a tool for ingesting and managing customer information at great scale, combining the functions of a modern CDP with the analytics that makes customer data actionable.
This has been a dramatic year for contact centers. The underlying technology has been changing for some time, but that change is now accelerating because of the urgent operational shifts forced by the pandemic. When you can’t gather dozens or hundreds of people into a single, open-plan site, you must look at alternative models for staffing and interaction handling. You must also work harder to create positive customer experiences across multiple contact channels.