Resources / Company News

The rise and rise of customer expectations

Fri, April 06, 2018

We were delighted to welcome delegates from a range of customer-facing organisations to a recent UKCCF (UK Contact Centre Forum) event hosted at our HQ on the subject of ‘Social Media, AI & Virtual Agents and Web Chat’.

For those that missed the chance to find out about how the customer service landscape is rapidly changing and how the different contact channels are evolving, here’s a summary of the highlights.

Introduced by the founder and CEO of The UK Contact Centre Forum Ltd & Contact Centre Monthly UKCCF CEO, Trevor Butterworth, the first talk was presented by social media management vendor, SocialSignIn on the ‘Social Media Secrets from across the Sectors’.

Provoking some lively debate, the guys provided a fascinating insight into how the sheer volume of social is rising, yet in many cases there is still a shortfall in how brands are responding.

They spoke of the importance of building the shortest distance between the customer and the business and how by proactively listening to customers on social you could begin to gain a more solid source of truth about your customers and drive down response times. The role of AI was also discussed and how 8 out of 10 businesses are either planning or likely to deploy it in some shape by 2020.

Interestingly 40-60% of enquiries can be answered using FAQs, revealing how virtual agents can relieve human agents of repetitive tasks, picking up on keywords and sentiment. They also spoke about real-life case studies of brands who by using surprise and delight moments were able to create millions of pieces of content over social platforms world-wide.

The talk by Synthetix on ‘To Bot or Not’ also discussed the potential role of AI and how it can be incorporated with other channels. For example the idea of a hybrid agent, which might start out as a virtual chat and later move to a live agent within the same window, revealed how the combination of automation and human intervention could work in practice.

According to statistics, 85% of customers find webbots useful and as long as you are able to set expectations, they can provide a crucial role in the customer journey, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex enquiries. In one example a brand saw a 13 point rise in its NetPromoter Score with the introduction of chatbots as it gave real agents more time to speak with the customer rather than being distracted with more simple enquiries.

A talk by The Chat Shop, Lessons Learned Delivering a Million Web Chats stressed how the human touch was still hugely important with 73% of customers preferring to engage with a real person to get advice. The power of chat was also endorsed in how visitors view 55% more web pages after a chat interaction and spend twice as much overall. As mentioned by SocialSignIn the human factor is regarded as a major differentiator for the quality of customer service and that “conversations are the new marketing.”

Last but not least, Ventrica’s MD, Dino Forte together with Rosie Wallis, Digital Operations Manager explained what was behind the company’s success witnessed by the recent winning of ‘Best Outsourced Contact Centre in Europeâ’ at the European Customer Service and Contact Centre Awards 2017 and how the contact centre is breaking boundaries, from social CX to digital marketing.

Dino spoke about the importance of investing in people and place, ‘As an outsourcer we invest heavily in both our environment and our technology. The office is 8 years old yet it still looks brand new. By looking after the workplace our employees feel proud to be Ventricans. As well as a people business we are also a technology business. We understand how technology is changing and how it can help us become even better at what we do.’ Dino also spoke about the future trends and the importance of Ventrica’s strong digital capability in challenging the convention of a typical contact centre.

Rosie ended the session with a deep-dive into how Ventrica runs its digital division, managing between 40,000 to 60,000 social enquiries every month on behalf of different brands. Demographics are hugely important in determining an organisations digital strategy. It’s all about where your customers hang out on social. Many are suggesting that Twitter is on the decline, but we still see it as a major platform that people jump on when they want to complain. The tone of voice is also hugely important and you can only really get this right with social listening and understanding your customer base before investing in the right channels and developing the appropriate digital persona.

According to Rosie, thinking about how social fits in with the rest of your service, sales, marketing and lead generation is key to creating maximum value and loyalty. Getting it right can provide huge rewards, and cites an example where a client increased positive sentiment on social by 60% through increased engagement.

Whatever channels your customers prefer, the main takeaway from the event focused on the advances in automation but at the same time the continued rise of customer conversations and expectations. Keeping your customers satisfied is certainly a balancing act, being able to blend the attributes of technology with people power. However the fundamentals of ‘being human’ and going the extra mile still remain the most potent forces in achieving the very best service levels.