Digital Transformation & the Contact Center: What Does it Mean for IVR?
by Kyle Henderson
One of the biggest technology buzzwords of the year has to be digital transformation. You’ll hear it about everything from manufacturing equipment and artificial intelligence, to cloud data storage and teamwork. But what does it mean? And more pertinently—to INI and our customers—how does it apply to IVR and the contact center?
According to a definition from the business consultants at i-SCOOP, “Digital transformation is the profound transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind.” That clears things up, doesn’t it? OK, not so much. Let’s see if we can unmuddy the waters a bit by breaking it down.
What is It, Really?
To us, digital transformation is the process of changing how we do things to capitalize on the digital technologies that exist today. Here’s a simple example. When my great-grandparents wanted to contact a company several decades ago, they would write a letter with paper and pen and send it in a self-addressed stamped envelope to the business’ address. That communication transformed over time to take advantage of new technologies; first with the typewriter, then faxes, e-mails, website contact forms, and now social media. The same basic task is now almost completely digital.
So digital transformation isn’t really all that new; it’s been happening for years. What is new is placing an emphasis on making our organizations more digital, in more and different ways. Additionally, people are getting more creative about how to digitally transform tasks that seemingly didn’t need transforming, such as connecting the office lights to motion sensors, or controlling them from an off-premise smartphone.
Digital Transformation in the Contact Center
While businesses look to edge computing and IoT as key components in their digital transformation strategy, it’s not uncommon for contact center technologies to get left in the dust. Often the telephone is viewed as an archaic—i.e., analog—means of communication. Yet, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, over three-quarters of adult Americans own a smartphone, making the phone channel prime for transformation. Here are a few ways to make sure your contact center doesn’t fall behind the times:
- Omni-channel Communication – How many ways can you connect with a company? Web, phone, in person, e-mail, snail mail, text, chat: with each contact you share information with the organization. As customers, we expect the company to know that information. Unfortunately, many organizations still operate in silos and are disjointed in customer data collection, so the contact center agent doesn’t know what happened at the last in-person visit, or about the previous e-mail the customer sent. A centralized CRM system that captures and shares data across channels allows these silos to be broken down and ensures a better, less frustrating customer experience. Furthermore, it provides the business with insight into the full customer journey—not just a small part of it.
- Speech Analytics – “Your call may be monitored or recorded.” True, but did you know it can also be automatically converted to digital data and analyzed? The use of speech analytics software in the contact center enables organizations to mine recorded customer interactions and use that data to gain intelligence about callers. By transforming voice to digital, speech analytics helps businesses develop customer service and containment strategies, ensuring a more efficient contact center.
- Chatbots – Is it possible to digitally transform an agent? Maybe so, with the advent of sophisticated chatbots. Quickly becoming an integral part of the contact center, chatbots offer a natural, seamless communication experience when human agents aren’t available. This digital alternative to live interaction relies on data collected from other channels to function well, so it’s important to have full insight into business analytics before implementing it.
- SMS Applications – Organizations can take IVR to the next level by implementing outbound SMS notifications. Gone are the days of overdue bill notices by mail—now a utility company can send a text message containing a click-to-call link which connects the customer to a self-service pay-by-phone application. SMS can also be used to schedule callbacks, act as multi-factor authenticator, or even open a co-browsing website with an agent—all with IVR at the hub.
- Internet of Things – As more devices go online and capture and store data in the cloud, organizations must use that data to eliminate internal knowledge gaps. If a smart fridge delivers data that it’s having an issue, the IVR needs to immediately recognize that’s likely the issue the customer is calling about. The exorbitant amount of data IoT enables does little good unless organizations leverage it to make business more personalized and better serve their customers.
While it could appear that the benefits of digital transformation in the contact center pertain mostly to the caller/customer/end-user, they also extend to the organization itself. Digital transformation can build unity, drive more informed data analysis, increase sales opportunities and improve live agent customer service levels. As your organization continues its push for digital transformation, remember the oft-forgotten contact center and IVR as they’re critical pieces that will advance your company in the digital age.
For more information about how your organization can embrace digital transformation within its IVR and contact center, please contact us.