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The 3 Es of Contact Center Success in 2024

by Neil Leyland, Chief Contact Center Strategist, InterVision - June 1, 2024

The 3 E’s of Contact Center Success in 2024

Neil Leyland, Chief Contact Center Strategist at InterVision 

Four years ago, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation, drastically changing how most consumers receive information and do business. Suddenly, contact centers needed robust omnichannel capabilities, such as text messaging support and chatbot solutions to service at-home consumers. However, fulfilling these expectations with the same (or fewer) resources proved challenging. In fact, many organizations continue to struggle with the demands of the modern contact center.

Yet meeting consumers where they prefer remains pivotal. Nearly half of consumers (42%) rank being able to reach customer service agents on their preferred channel as the No. 1 factor in a positive customer experience (CX). Critically, that same percentage of consumers indicate that they would drop a brand altogether after two negative CX experiences. These sky-high expectations place a heavy burden on contact centers and their staff.

How can organizations evolve to offer seamless, responsive, always-on customer service? Perhaps more importantly, how can contact center leaders achieve these lofty goals while creating a positive agent experience? Let’s unpack the expectations placed on modern contact center agents through the lens of the three E’s. Then, we’ll discuss how technology can help contact centers keep pace with their digitally native audiences.

What are the three E’s?

The three E’s of contact center success — Efficiency, Excellence and Empowerment — offer a roadmap for transforming operations to meet evolving consumer demands while respecting agent autonomy.

Efficiency: Working smarter, not harder.

Although the average speed of answer (ASA) varies between industries, one fact is clear: Constituents want to resolve their problems as soon as possible. Ergo, quick response times are a competitive advantage and an opportunity to improve margins.

However, genuine efficiency is about more than speed. Efficient contact centers go the extra mile by facilitating customer service and become smarter with each successive interaction. Conversational intelligence solutions empowered with AI enable chatbots and other digital self-service interactions to become smarter in real time, decreasing the likelihood of customers encountering the same problem twice.

Furthermore, AI-powered contact center solutions satisfy consumer expectations about personalization. Seven in 10 consumers want personalized interactions across all touchpoints, including customer service — and 76% become frustrated when these desires go unmet. AI-powered, cloud-based contact center services enable agents and chatbots to access real-time insights into a customer’s profile and purchase history.

Excellence: Raising the bar on service quality.

To achieve a truly excellent contact center, leaders should invest in omnichannel experiences that meet consumers wherever (and whenever) they are.

Phone calls remain the No. 1 preferred contact method among consumers seeking support. Still, on-the-go methods like email and in-app messaging are increasingly popular among Gen Z and millennials, so the reliability and accessibility of these solutions should also be a priority. Leaders can improve their digital contact center outcomes by (1) providing a diversity of language options so that more consumers can receive service and (2) investing in natural language processing (NLP) capabilities that increase the system’s ability to converse naturally and understand casual language.

Service disruptions are another factor to consider. On average, customers are willing to pay 19% extra for “always immediate service” — among these high expectations, disruptions can be extremely costly. Consider, for example, the steep costs a government agency would incur after a contact center malfunction. Entities handling pertinent tax information and other personal data must carefully consider options that improve their uptime.

Empowerment: Enabling agents to thrive.

No contact center is complete without empowered, autonomous agents. Leaders must strive to provide tools for agents to succeed without becoming burnt out and contributing to the industry’s incredibly high turnover rate. Experts predict replacing an agent costs anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, so implementing proactive measures to improve job satisfaction is crucial.

Start by considering common sources of burnout in the industry, such as unrealistically high call volumes. Contact center leaders should prioritize rerouting routine questions toward more practical solutions, including chatbots and self-service lines. By triaging these comparably easy-to-handle requests, contact centers enable live agents to handle fewer calls per hour. AI is a great solution to this problem. AI can be used to ascertain the nature of a consumer’s question and potentially route them to less labor-intensive means of resolution.

Additionally, AI services and chatbots can empower agents with better information, both at the start of and during an interaction. Instead of spending time on routine questions, agents can begin conversations with an idea of customer intent and be served pertinent information identified by speech analytics during the call. This context improves agent and customer experiences by significantly reducing average call length.

Accomplishing success through digital transformation

We’ve discussed the power of AI in the contact center, but realizing the benefits of these solutions may appear daunting, especially for organizations without a strong AI strategy. Leaders should consider the following steps toward digital transformation:

  • Work with a managed service provider (MSP). Organizations lacking the in-house expertise to modernize their contact center should consider the benefits of an MSP. MSPs tackle critical challenges like cloud migration and AI adoption. Additionally, they can aid modernization efforts by suggesting solutions like contact centers as a service (CCaaS), which leverages AI and machine learning (ML) to provide a fully managed, cloud-based customer support solution.
  • Audit current contact center workflows. Determining the right course of action is difficult without understanding existing weak points. Leaders should thoroughly audit their current contact center to determine where they’re falling short. Framing this audit around the three E’s (efficiency, excellence and empowerment) may yield more helpful results. Reviewing KPIs in this step is helpful, but remember to also survey agents and customers about their opinions.

Many contact centers are long overdue for basic enhancements to their customer experience. However, by focusing on the three E’s — efficiency, excellence and empowerment — businesses can build far more modern and high-performing customer touchpoints and agent satisfaction.


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