Digital transformation: the road to success
• Digital transformation will always need full support at board level to be a success
• A gradual process of improvements stands more chance of succeeding than sweeping overnight changes
• In the next decade, hybrid contact centers supported by extensive automation will become the norm
Automation holds great promise for transforming the way customers interact with brands.
Not only could it allow contact centers to handle higher volumes of queries in a much less resource-intensive way, it could also enhance customer experience by delivering a faster, error-free and always-on service.
We’ve looked previously at the way automation will transform customer service in the next decade. But what does it take for a brand to implement these systems in their contact centers?
A new Arvato report, ‘Customer service in 2027: How Automation, RPA and AI will transform the way companies deliver customer service over the next decade’, provides advice to businesses looking to transform the way they interact with customers. Here, we summarize the key principles.
There is no question that the technology exists to automate many of the customer interactions currently handled by human operators, but the corporate world rarely adopts new technology purely because it is possible.
Technological transformation in any business requires leadership buy-in followed by ongoing support and incentivization from board level.
It also takes cultural change among all staff, which means a lot of communication, consultation and training right through the process.
Finally, it requires significant investment of finances and resource, something that will need a solid business case to secure in most cases.
Taking the journey
Implementing automation is not something that can be done overnight by immediately restructuring entire systems – most successful transformations are a gradual progression in which existing systems are tweaked, augmented and made to run more smoothly.
An incremental, modular approach can significantly increase the chances of a successful implementation. Multiple smaller, but very-well scoped improvements have a better chance of a positive outcome than drastic, sweeping changes to systems. Big sudden changes can lead to costly teething problems and cause staff to struggle with too-steep learning curves.
A good starting point is to carry out an audit of all processes to understand which are ripe for automation.
It is then important to prepare the data, turning as much unstructured information into structured as possible, so that it is in a format that can be understood by the software. This is a key step, and it will require input from a data scientist.
The next step is to get the right people and skills in place to run the automated system. This will likely include programmers to manage the software and content and process alignment managers to oversee delivery and ensure consistency in outputs.
Of course, there is some trepidation about automation in some circles, as there are concerns that it will take jobs away from contact center workers. In fact, our research shows that, while automation will change the nature of customer service jobs, the overall number of roles is likely to grow in the decade ahead as the volume of customer interactions will grow rapidly.
We believe the contact center of 2027 will be a hybrid of AI and human operators, with automated processes handling the majority of customer interactions.
Others have concerns about customer acceptance of AI, and whether the loss of contact with a human might prove alienating. However, what we have seen in our research is that speed of resolution is the biggest concern for the vast majority of customers, and this has already given rise to self-service as a major channel.
Automation will allow brands to expand this approach and automate responses to most incoming queries. If brands can ensure these processes are user friendly and fast to use, and that a human operator is also on hand if necessary, there is real potential to improve the customer experience.
To read the report in full, click here.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer