The Cutting Edge of Contact Centers - Chapter 1 -
In recent years, consumers are increasingly utilizing technologies such as mobile phones and social networking sites and are communicating by combining various digital and real channels. This trend is the same not only for consumers but also for consumer-business communications, such as purchasing and inquiring products.
transcosmos' AI Research Institute "Communication Science Lab" conducts its own "Consumer-Company Communication Survey" every year. Please look at Figure 1.
From 2016 to 2019, the use of messenger applications and chats are expanding, and it can be seen that they are beginning to become a new way of communication.
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Figure 1: Messenger applications and chats have become established as new means of communication
Due to the diversification and digitization of communication channels, corporate marketing communications are undergoing major changes.
In addition to unilaterally transmitting information through mass media and distribution networks as in the past, we have developed new means such as social networking sites and chats, as well as conventional channels such as mass media, telephones, stores, and home pages. We are promoting the construction of next-generation communication that combines digital and real.
Consumers communicate with companies in a series of processes to purchase and use products and services and receive after-sales support. In the process, if the customer experience (customer experience value, hereinafter referred to as CX) provided by the company can create customer loyalty and foster fans, the company will be possible to strengthen its brand image and differentiate itself from the competition.
In addition, the contact center is the mainstay of communication strategy in the digital age.
Contact centers are now undergoing a major transformation due to the changing working environment and the advent of latest technologies such as AI. While introducing the world of such next-generation contact centers, we would like to consider the impact of digitizing communications and diversifying work styles on the operation and management of contact centers.
The role of next-generation contact centers and the direction of AI utilization
Nowadays, it is becoming difficult to recruit personnel due to the declining population and aging society, and it is an urgent issue to adapt to various work styles, such as working from home, elderly recruitment, and globalization.
According to the "Future Estimation of the Labor Market 2030" at persol research and consulting CO.,LTD. and CHUO UNIVERSITY. the number of vacancies in labor demand will grow to nearly five times from 1.2 million in 2018 to 6.44 million in 2030, and we will enter an era of "super" shortage of human resources. Of course, it is necessary to take an approach to secure human resources from women, seniors, and foreigners. However, to cope with this level of shortage of human resources, the extension of the conventional method cannot be enough.
Contact centers naturally face these challenges of shortage of human resources and are heavily impacted. As shown in Countermeasure 4 in Figure 2, in order for contact centers to survive the era of "super" shortage of human resources, efforts to improve productivity by promoting unmanned support using AI and bots and automating operations using RPA are inevitable.
Figure 2: Utilization of AI/RPA is essential for contact centers to survive the era of "super" shortage of human resources
However, efforts to digitize and utilize AI in contact centers should not be limited to inward-focused issues such as automation and efficiency of internal operations. How should digital technology and AI be used to foster fans by resolving customer dissatisfaction and providing amazing experiences?
If you are a business professional who has experienced in contact center and direct marketing operations and has been exposed to CRM strategies and CS management concepts, you probably have heard of "Goodman's Law" once.
"Goodman's Law" is a concept that summarizes some of the laws derived from the results of market research in the United States in the second half of the 20th century, and is considered to be a very important law in customer service theory.
Figure 3 is an illustration of reconstructing "Goodman's Law" in modern Japan, based on the results of the previous study by transcosmos. This flow chart shows that even if a consumer is dissatisfied with a product or service, providing CX through prompt customer support can lead to repurchase (royal customerization) with high probability. However, failing to do so will lead to "fatal injuries" in which most customers will never repeat the purchase.
Figure 3: How can we use data and AI "to create amazing experiences and fans"?
At the top center of this flow chart, the coverage of conventional call centers has been limited to passively responding only to customers who have complained directly to the company by phone. However, in today's world of technological evolution and changes in consumer lifestyles, call centers are evolving into contact centers and are expanding their reach and role to play.
The concrete example of this is the vision of the next-generation contact center that we envision in Figure 4.
Figure 4: transcosmos' vision for next-generation contact center
Through channel-integrated communication that combines cutting-edge technology utilizing AI and data with friendly human response, we will build customer contact points so that customers can connect with companies whenever they want, through various channels. In addition, it will be possible to develop a service platform that fosters fans by providing well-balanced support for consumer information gathering and consultation.
For example, it will be possible to speed up customer relations by using a non-telephone digital channel, such as chat or voice-assisted answering. Also, by making good use of big data and AI, it is possible to improve the quality of response by automating assistance of operators and management tasks, and to create amazing experiences that exceed customer expectations. Furthermore, by conducting active communication using social networking sites (a measure that allows companies to actively engage consumers with their web-based tweets), it will be possible to care for silent majority that could not be reached through conventional channels.
As you can see, the industry standard for channel mix strategy and AI utilization in next-generation contact center will be a style that aims to drive both internal operational efficiency as well as external CX improvement effects.
For that purpose, as shown in Figure 5, by controlling the best communication channel according to the customers' lifestyles and preferences and making full use of AI and data, it is possible to reduce the Customer Effort Score (CES) and achieve faster problem resolution. At the same time, it enables us to provide smart information and propose plus alpha tailored to each "individual customer". Contact center management that enhances CX will be required more and more in the future.
Figure 5: Image of contact center focusing on customer engagement that supports digitalization and AI/data utilization
Examples of efforts for digitization and AI utilization in transcosmos
Now, let us show you some specific examples of the measures that transcosmos is actually working on.
Recently, the use of visual IVR using mobile phones is advancing as a navigation mechanism to replace the conventional voice IVR. As shown in Figure 6, the visual IVR will facilitate the navigation from the home page to the Support Site top screen, and it is possible to send the URL of the Support Site via SMS from the voice IVR, or to display the Customer Service menu screen when the customer calls into the call center.
Figure 6: Channel Control with visual IVR
By disclosing not only the support content but also the congestion status of the call center on the mobile phone's screen, it is possible to guide customers who cannot afford to wait until the call is connected to FAQs and chat bots. Self-help and unmanned support provide 24/7 support, so customers in a hurry can quickly resolve their dissatisfaction.
By the way, in the past experience, there is a difference of more than 3 times the number of accesses when the link to the support site is placed on the top page and when it is placed on the page of 2 levels or less. Even if you want to increase the lead from the top page to the FAQ, it is often difficult to improve the UI of the site as you wish because the person in charge of the call center and the website is different.
However, such internal circumstances are not known to consumers. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize that the people involved in the next-generation contact center are required to take a high-level approach, not only for single channels such as calls and the Web, but also for the wire design of the entire customer contact points of the company beyond the boundaries of the channels.
As efforts that transcend the boundaries between the Web and calls, transcosmos has successfully developed a link between Internet information and call information, which had been cut off until now. This not only improves the efficiency of call operations, but also enables cross-selling/up-selling proposals. We are promoting the creation of high-value-added call centers that not only reduce costs but also contribute to profits.
Many call centers have long had the slogan of "Cost Center to Profit Center". However, unfortunately, there is a history in which the call center's profit contribution has not been realized. Perhaps the reason is that we have been thinking about things in a single channel called a call center.
Now that digital technology has developed, it is time to take an approach of formulating measures in a direction that contributes to creating customer loyalty and improving corporate profits by combining with other channels, such as the Web and social networking sites.
Cloud-based contact center services that cannot be made light of
It is necessary to build a dedicated infrastructure in order to realize measures, such as automation and efficiency of operations in response to the era of "super" shortage of human resources as described above and strengthening customer engagement using AI and data.
Figure 7: Cloud-based contact center services utilizing Amazon Connect
By utilizing cloud services such as Amazon Connect as shown in Figure 7, you can see that the functions required for the next-generation contact center, such as sending SMS and "Click to Call (click to the number displayed on the web browser)", can be implemented more smoothly than expected.
As you can see, these days, cloud services allow for quicker infrastructure development and become more and more compatible with other modern technologies than conventional contact center systems. In contact centers, it should be considered that the use of cloud services and various solutions running on their infrastructure cannot be made light of anymore.
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