There are few companies who would disagree that customer service is important. But how many organisations are building their brands around the best customer experience from the very beginning?

It’s easier, of course, for the newcomers to the market to start with a clean slate and build their businesses with the customer as the focal point. It’s these same disrupters who are focussing on customer service as their strategic differentiator. For them, service isn’t just key to their business. Service IS their business. 

So how does the rest of the market respond, when according to Salesforce’s State of Service report, 86% of consumers are saying that service is now as important as the product? Where customers expect to engage with us 24/7 across multiple devices and a myriad of channels? 

82% of service leaders say their company’s service must transform to stay competitive. But there’s no doubt that business transformation is harder for established businesses, with legacy systems and teams who have always done things a certain way. It can be daunting. The reality is that providing exceptional customer service can no longer be seen as a cost to the business, but instead as a crucial way to drive revenue.


Contact Centre of the Future

In a recent webinar with Bluewolf, an IBM Company, on the contact centre of the future, we dived into where to start and what to focus on. I’ll share some of the key takeaways here.


1. Making service your product

Aligning the business around this is pivotal to transformation, and achieving this will require a combination of vision, hard work and technology support. While a customer service transformation is a never-ending journey and will not happen overnight, you have to start somewhere.

Begin by evaluating your service offerings today, and build out a roadmap to support it. Some questions to start with are:

  • What channels are you supporting today, and on what other channels do your customers want you to be? 
  • What does your contact centre technology stack look like? 
  • How many systems are your agents using to piece together a single view of your customers? 
  • And look ahead - where do you want your customer service to be in 5 years?

Wherever you are along your journey, leveraging technology is key. With a unified platform powering your business, you can obtain a single view of the customer, allowing your agents to solve cases faster, reduce call volumes, empower customers to self-serve, and improve your overall customer experience.


2. Making everybody in the company an agent

Another key step in the journey to offering exceptional customer experiences - customer service is no longer simply a post-purchase function; it touches every moment of the customer journey. Whether you’re in sales, marketing, finance, or service, everyone in the company is responsible for ensuring the success of your customers. 

With this shift, the role of agents has evolved from simply resolving cases to being more strategic. The contact centre isn’t going away, but it does need to change.

According to the State of Service report, 56% of service decision-makers say their organisations are actively looking for ways to use AI. Automating routine queries with automation and AI, such as chatbots, is crucial to free up agents time for more complex cases. With efficient case and call routing, agents with specific skill sets can pick up cases and resolve them, providing both a seamless customer experience and simultaneously empowering agents with more strategic work.

By starting with service, the focus on customer experience will permeate across your entire business. 


3. Acknowledging agents as a talent pool

This is another significant shift required to ensure that service becomes a true differentiator. Contact centres are often the largest pool of talent in an organisation, and to really improve the experience of the customer we need to improve the agent experience.

Expose your team to the changes; understand their daily challenges and get their early buy-in on transformational projects. Reassure them that change is not about losing people, it’s about elevating existing talent by investing in the right training and tools to empower them to grow.


What next?

The contact centre will continue to see a huge transformation over the coming years as customer service becomes a strategic differentiator for businesses. Don’t be afraid to challenge how you do business today and embrace technology to help you on your journey. 

Want to learn more about the contact centres of the future? Watch the webinar below to hear my engaging discussion with Simon Shaw, Customer Service Director, at Bluewolf, an IBM Company.