A few years back, it seemed forecasters everywhere were predicting the demise of the call centre as self-serve digital channels accelerated up the steep curve of early customer adoption. More recently, with the advent of automation in the form of Intelligent Virtual Assistants, natural language processing and other artificial intelligence-based tools, the extinction of the call centre was revisited. 

It is true that digital interactions are increasing. According to this 2018 McKinsey research, 48% of all customer care interactions will be digital by 2020.1 But another study states that a majority of consumers ranked speaking with a human on the phone as their preferred communication channel with a business.When you peel back the onion, it's clear that digital channels and call centres need to work in concert to optimise customer engagement. 

The convergence of digital channels and call centres are sure to delight customers, but it also represents challenges for organisations seeking to create a seamless customer experience across channels. It's a long journey, and as organisations head down the path toward true omnichannel customer engagement, voice of the customer (VoC) plays a critical role in informing the process along the way.

The self-service world of digital is exceptional at delivering efficiencies on both sides of the customer experience equation. It helps customers interact with an organisation quickly, and it helps organisations scale their ability to delight customers (while significantly reducing their cost to serve).  

Unfortunately, if something isn't working right for customers in a digital channel, that scale and efficiency can play the unintended spoiler erasing customer loyalty in an instant. Fortunately, many brand loyalists care enough to try another channel before switching their allegiance to a competitor, and the next channel of choice is typically the call centre. 

It is through these types of call centre interactions that voice of the customer plays a critical role in maintaining a high quality and consistent digital customer experience. It's no surprise that according to this Forrester Consulting study that 79% of digital leaders feel contact centres are important to their digital strategy.3 

Today, call centre solutions such as real-time speech analytics leverage advanced speech analytics engines to provide immediate access to voice of the customer and consequently real-time insight into emerging digital channel issues. For example, a leading personal lines insurer uses Verint's real-time speech analytics to monitor a variety of critical business drivers, including the performance of digital self-service channels. By alerting digital stakeholders of emerging issues in their digital channels uncovered by monitoring and analysing relevant call centre interactions, the company is able to constantly monitor and improve their digital self-service experience. Improved customer engagement through their digital channels has translated into measurable business value as they have reduced monthly calls to live agents over 60%--value directly attributable to sharing voice of the customer data from the call centre with digital operations. 

Conversely, VoC data gathered via digital channels has an explicit positive impact on the call centre experience. If a customer is satisfied or disappointed with a call centre interaction, digital feedback channels are a handy way to share their sentiment about the experience, making it easy for call centre leaders to prioritise and act on that feedback. 

Less obvious may be the indirect, positive impact digital voice of the customer can have in the call centre customer experience. Digital voice of the customer solutions can provide an early warning sign for organisations to help them react quickly to poor customer experiences by staffing adjustments, information sharing or contingency planning to mitigate the impact.   

For example, a large financial institution leverages Verint's digital feedback management solution as an early warning system to alert both digital and call centre leadership of emerging account login issues on their website. These alerts allow the call centre to proactively adjust staffing levels, distribute mitigation instructions and communicate resolution timeframes, even as the digital team races to diagnose and correct the issue. Sharing voice of the customer information gathered through digital channels with the call centre adds immediate and demonstrable business value. 

Many organisations currently collect voice of the customer on a per channel basis, but have not yet operationalized it as shared knowledge across their organization.

To find out more about the benefits of sharing the voice of the customer across your organisation, download Verint's eBook 8 Ways Disconnected Customer Listening Leads to Negative Business Outcomes."

  

  1. McKinsey, Charting the future of customer care through a core optimisation philosophy, Jeff Berg and Julian Raabe; https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/charting-the-future-of-customer-care-through-a-core-optimization-philosophy 
  2. Verint, The Digital Tipping Point: How do organisations balance the demands for digital and human customer service?; https://www.verint.com/Assets/resources/resource-types/white-papers/verint-the-digital-tipping-point-en.pdf 
  3. Is Your Digital Transformation Strategy Driving Seamless Customer Journeys?, a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Contact Solutions, April 2017; https://www.opinionlab.com/resources/whitepapers/forrester-research-is-your-digital-transformation-driving-seamless-customer-journeys/