While issues like total cost of ownership, and a desire to avoid capital expenditure might lead businesses to look into cloud computing initially, many executives rapidly come to understand that cloud computing also offers the opportunity to increase revenue through better service delivery and improved customer experience.

This is especially the case when businesses look at cloud-based contact centre solutions. Moving contact centres to the cloud provides a chance to implement genuinely transformational ways of working and thinking of the customer relationship.

The battles among enterprises for tomorrow’s customers will be fought and won on customer experience. The level of service a company provides can be even more important than the price it charges.

These issues are covered in detail in a white paper from NEC called Cloud for Enterprise.

The flexibility of SaaS gives companies the opportunity to create an ecosystem of software services which include the latest point technologies. That’s important as it allows them to better personalise customer experiences by leveraging what they know about the customer, their preferences and their relationship history with an organisation.

Understanding the customer on a deeper and more personal level requires integration with knowledge management, CRMs, analytics and contact centre software to create the 360-degree view.

It is much easier and cheaper to do achieve in the SaaS world than with an on-premise contact centre.

According to Jim Chryssikos, National Solutions Manager at NEC, “Our enterprise customers tell us they expect compete in future on how they treat their customers. When customers go to a particular provider and get a great experience, the rest of the market will have to keep up with that.”

Chatbots

Chatbots are one type of technology organisations are now deploying to  keep up with the ever rising tide of expectations.

Once hailed as the latest tool to improve customer experience at scale, experience has taught companies that in fact chatbots are best used to start an interaction and to then to pass off the conversation to the agent best equipped to finalise their queries.

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, according to Riaan Van Zyl, Senior Solutions Architect at NEC.

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.

“Companies are utilising robotic process automation to change addressed or look up a balance, Van Zyl says.

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

“The new edge in customer experience is to create personality profiles that match the intent of the call to the agent best suited to handle it. This requires running personality profiles of agents as well, and then training them to handle different interactions,” Chryssikos says.

“It’s all about personal connections.”

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

But profiling is only half the journey. One of the realisations of implementing augmented intelligence is that the AI needs to have something to say.

This is why every CRM vendor is suddenly chasing a knowledge management company, according to Van Zyl.

He says vendors have been busy keeping track of customers and their data but have now 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.

When trialling new technologies, the best approach is to find a business problem that has resisted other solutions, says Flamingo AI CEO Dr Catriona Wallace. “Don’t just trial AI for the hell of it. If other solutions haven’t solved the client’s problems, then AI can fill that gap.”

Wallace highlights three ideal 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.

These three pillars are transforming all of the critical areas of contact centres: the omnichannel experience, the AI revolution, and the expanding practices of analytics.

About The Author

Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit which produced the Cloud Migration and Contact Centre Solutions whitepaper for NEC. Corporate members such as NEC provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply. 

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