Organisations move to the cloud for various reasons, but one of the more important is that the cloud gives them the opportunity to increase revenue through better service delivery and improved customer service.

A recently published whitepaper by NEC, Cloud Migration and Contact Centre Solutions covered the benefits brands get when they successfully migrate to the cloud.

The whitepaper explained that CIOs who want a technology stack to deliver an outstanding customer experience will find it cheaper and easier to achieve with software-as-a-service (SaaS) than with an on-premise contact centre.

The level of service a company provides can be even more important than the price it charges.

The company’s customers recognise that they are going to compete on how they treat their customers. When customers get a great experience from one provider, the rest of the market has to rise and match that experience.

Chatbots were once seen as the best tool to improve customer experience at scale. Now they are seen as a tool to help an interaction between a customer and a brand.

Riaan Van Zyl, Senior Solutions Architect at NEC, noted that the first virtual assistants were overly ambitious and tried to service every scenario. Vendors learned they could deliver a more effective customer experience by using a combination of micro chatbots rather than one huge one.

The experience for the customer is still similar to a traditional interactive voice response (IVR). But, behind the scenes, a host of chatbots carry out single functions.

“It is just robotic process automation. You task the chatbot with a job — such as looking for an address change, or looking for a balance,” Van Zyl says.

This model also creates greater redundancy. If one chatbot falls over then only one function is affected.

A new edge in customer experience is the creation of personality profiles for customers that match the customer to the correct agent to handle the issues.

According to Van Zyl, “There is a clear recognition in the marketplace today that personal connections are very important.”

This requires running personality profiles of agents as well, and then training them to handle different interactions.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are stepping into the gap to build profiles of large customer sets. They measure behavioural cues, intentions and emotions to create accurate profiles that map to every inbound or outbound user.

However, this is only half the journey. One of the realisations brands have when implementing this is that it needs to have something to say.

Van Zyl says this is why all CRM vendors are becoming knowledge management companies.

Vendors have realised they don’t have enough company data. Information has to be written, versions managed and kept up-to-date, and staff trained to deliver it.

“As we transition to the cloud we’ll see that investment into knowledge management. That’s the only way that intelligence can be brought to the market properly,” he says.

Dr Catriona Wallance, founder of Flamingo AI, says that when trialling new technologies, the best approach is to find a business problem that has resisted other solutions.

“If other solutions haven’t solved the client’s problems, then perhaps AI can fill that gap.”

She noted three areas for testing AI: information provision; analysis of customer data; and personalisation. A SaaS contact centre can easily connect to a different type of AI each month to find the solutions that provide the most benefit.

The most important strategic benefit of the cloud can be summarised as access — to new technologies, internal and external systems and data sources, and “as-a-Service” products supplied by third-party providers.

This new degree of access has s changing three critical areas of contact centres: the omnichannel experience; the AI revolution; and the expanding practice of analytics.

The struggle to get omnichannel right

One of the biggest challenges organisations have is consolidating data to provide an omnichannel experience.

Organisations are struggling to execute this because customer data is in disparate systems.

It is not uncommon for customers to call an agent, and for the agent to discover the customer has already tried unsuccessfully to contact the company in many different ways. A successful omnichannel approach will pull all the strands together, giving the agent a thorough history of the customer interaction.

Trying to understand what the customer wants — how they are interacting, the intent of the query and their emotional state — is still challenging.

In the past five years, many organisations have switched to cloud CRMs such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Connecting two cloud applications is far easier than navigating the defences of an on-premise setup to establish a connection.

Furthermore, once integrated, an organisation can choose to use digital elements in its CRM instead. This can create a more seamless experience for both the customer and the agent.

About this author

Jim Chryssikos is the national solutions manager at NEC. NEC is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.


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