Contact centers are evolving rapidly. The days of single-channel, telephony-based call centers are long gone. This old model has given way to the omnichannel customer experience center.
In legacy call centers, the customer’s pathway through sales or service was relatively linear. Call in, speak to an agent, and (hopefully) resolve the issue. In this system, the manager’s focus was strictly on ensuring there would be enough well-trained staff to handle every call as efficiently as possible.
Nowadays, however, the customer journey is more complex, and the path to successful customer experience (CX) may weave its way through various channels, touching both human and robot agents along the way. Today’s managers must not only build an adequate staff, but they must also choose the right solutions to effectively meld together technological and human elements to deliver a near-flawless CX.
Although many solutions have proved important for managers seeking to create successful contact centers, none are more important than the cloud and conversational AI. You might think of these as the twin pillars of success for today’s contact centers. However, as we’ll discuss here, they’re not sufficient on their own. There’s a third pillar to consider: quality assurance, or dedication to ensuring a finely tuned customer experience at every stage in the customer journey.
The cloud makes the contact center omnipresent
It looks like we’ve reached the tipping point for cloud adoption in contact centers. Deloitte reports that 75% of contact centers plan to migrate their operations to the cloud by mid-2023, if they haven’t already done so. IDC forecasts that investments in cloud solutions will account for 67% of infrastructure spending by 2025, compared to only 33% for non-cloud solutions. Genesys, a major contact center provider, recently announced that, going forward, it will focus its efforts on its Genesys Cloud CX software rather than its on-premises solutions.
Considering the cloud’s potential, it’s not surprising to see that it’s taking over. Fundamentally, the cloud allows contact centers to keep pace with the changing expectations of employees and customers simultaneously.
The pandemic quickly changed what both groups were looking for. Employees came to expect more accommodating remote work arrangements, and those expectations have held strong even in 2022. According to research by Gallup, only 6% of workers who can do their jobs remotely actually want to return to a full on-site arrangement. Expectations for CX, meanwhile, have continued to rise to new heights, whether in terms of omnichannel service or personalized experiences.
The cloud makes it much easier for contact centers to meet these expectations. Without the need to rely on legacy, brick-and-mortar infrastructure, remote agents can deliver service to customers from anywhere at any time. Plus, the cloud more effectively facilitates seamless omnichannel service delivery and efficient software updates.
From setup to ongoing execution, the cloud is simply easier to manage. With no telecom hardware to purchase, installation and setup happen more quickly. And contact centers can rapidly scale up and down as needed, and when needed, allowing them to effectively manage costs.
The net effect of these benefits is that the cloud creates a new kind of contact center — one that’s omnipresent to deliver a modern customer experience from anywhere and to anyone.
Conversational AI transforms CX
One of the key benefits of moving to the cloud is the availability of conversational AI that can power self-service solutions. This technology, which is indispensable to chatbots and IVR, enables bots to interact with customers in natural — even human — ways.
Thanks to powerful components of AI, such as natural language processing and machine learning, bots are increasingly able to provide much of the service customers seek. In fact, in today’s self-service economy, conversational AI allows consumers to solve many of their own issues. Even more, the machine learning capabilities of AI allow it to easily and quickly collect customer data and use it to personalize the service experience. Unsurprisingly, organizations that employ conversational AI see a 3.5-fold increase in customer satisfaction rates.
That boost in customer satisfaction stems not only from offering personalized self-service, but also from organizations making the most of their human service. While bots handle many of the simpler requests, they reserve agents’ time for handling more complex matters. Ultimately, companies that deploy them can improve customer service while also cutting costs by between 15% and 70%.
This AI-powered CX transformation is already well underway in many industries. Banks use conversational AI to power customer self-service with simple tasks, like money transfers and balance inquiries. Hotels employ it to offer streamlined booking and concierge services. And retailers put it to work engaging customers in more personalized ways.
These are only a few of the basic benefits that forward-thinking companies can gain from deploying conversational AI. Its more advanced forms will power a new kind of proactive CX in the years ahead, shaped by powerful tools like sentiment analysis.
True success requires a third pillar: quality assurance
Although critical for today’s contact centers, those two pieces are incomplete without the third pillar of quality assurance.
The expanded service capacities enabled by the cloud and conversational AI add new layers of complexity to a contact center’s CX delivery. Cloud migration, for instance, often involves bringing together many disparate legacy systems and remapping the entire customer journey. It requires extensive testing and mapping to make sure it’s done right.
And as powerful as conversational AI is, it still requires a lot of human guidance to ensure it’s doing its job correctly. Without the capacity for that guidance, IVR or chatbot solutions may cause more CX problems than they solve. They can also be more costly — defects discovered in the IVR or chatbot production environment are much more expensive to undo than they would be when discovered in design.
The best way to provide cost-effective quality assurance is through a robust set of testing solutions that can work with any cloud, IVR, or chatbot solution that a contact center uses. As a platform-agnostic CX assurance solution, that’s exactly what Cyara is designed to do.
With a powerful solution like Cyara, businesses can speed up cloud migration, correct voice quality issues, load-test IVRs, and performance-test chatbots, regardless of which solutions they use. They can even run more advanced chatbot tests to see how well they follow natural human conversation flows and recognize various speech patterns.
This kind of quality assurance allows contact centers to jump to the cloud and deploy conversational AI with confidence, knowing that both will push their CX forward. Together, these three pillars provide a firm foundation for contact centers of the future.
Ready to get started? Cyara can provide assurance for your cloud migration so you can start building these pillars. Reach out to get started today.