Chris Harrington, a freelance writer, father of three and avid baseball fan, was shocked when he saw his utility bill recently. He checked and re-checked the bill, and realized that there was no way his consumption could have shot up so much despite his kids logging into online classes and his wife working reduced hours from home (as a freelancer, he had always worked from home). He called the utility provider’s contact center number and got an automated response. But he wanted desperately to speak with a person. After being on hold for more than 10 minutes, his call dropped. Frustrated, after several attempts to speak with a human agent, he e-mailed the utility provider. He got an automated response saying that they will be slow to respond due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. He is still waiting for his query to be resolved.

The problem of unresolved queries and poor Customer Experience (CX) is not confined to the utility sector alone. Businesses across industries are grappling with skeletal staff and a surge in voice calls. While Internet traffic was expected to increase due to the massive shift to digital, the unprecedented spike in voice channels has come somewhat as a surprise. This has been attributed to people’s need to stay connected voice-to-voice while staying at home.

Businesses should not miss this opportunity to drive superior CX across all consumer touchpoints by connecting with customers at a deeper level. This is something that is crucial now to not just survive, but to fast-track growth. Knowing what kind of interactions to automate and which ones need a human agent to offer assistance with empathy will be a key differentiator.

This is where an integrated CX model will help. In this model, smart automation, advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are integrated with an agile workforce. Businesses can understand consumer behavior in real-time and drive a more immersive experience on the customer’s channel of choice.

AI-led cognitive chatbots, and predictive and sentiment analytics, will help businesses identify the root cause of a customer’s dissatisfaction. For instance, in Chris’ case, the cognitive bot, understanding his dissatisfaction, would quickly re-direct his query to a human agent. Equipped with analytical insights into Chris’ journey, the agent can resolve his query with empathy. This kind of contextualization helps in addressing a customer’s query / demands more precisely in real-time, leading to improved customer loyalty retention and trust. Needless to say, great CX leads to increased opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell, and repeat sales.

Integration of Gig Workforce

Whether customers are buying life insurance, renewing a healthcare policy or applying for a bank loan, an integrated CX model enables proactive, contextual and intelligent conversations, while significantly reducing the cost-to-serve for companies. Human agents evolve from transactional roles to become ‘knowledge workers.’ Gig workers can be integrated as and when required to manage spikes in volumes, without disruptions.

The accelerated adoption of digital channels, increasing number of first-time users and the evolving COVID-19 situation is leading to greater expectations among customers who expect 24x7 support that is quick and effective. An integrated approach will help drive customer engagement, with empathy and speed, in the emerging normal.

Walmart’s founder Sam Walton once said: “There is only one boss. The customer.” Despite all the disruptions it has brought about, COVID-19 has not been able to change this indisputable truth. The customer is still very much the boss.

Click here to know more about WNS’ Customer Experience Service

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