Read our Q&A with Iain Banks, Regional VP International Markets, TTEC…
What do you see as the single biggest challenge the contact centre/customer service industry has faced over the past 12 months?
Customer expectations and behaviours have changed dramatically over the past 12 months. Organisations are expected to meet customers’ needs and expectations at every interaction, in return for customer loyalty. The ability to deliver this depends on the extent to which ‘Customer-Centricity’ is embedded within every single person in your organisation. There are few organisations that have the necessary organisational culture to deliver truly customer-centric customer experiences. Often, a well-intentioned strategy is diluted by operational constraints and a loss of focus, resulting in little more than lip-service being paid to the concept of customer-centricity.
What do you think is the biggest priority for the contact centre/customer service industry in 2018?
In 2018, we will see a shift towards implementing a ‘hybrid-workforce’. In this workforce, people and machines combine strengths and compensate for one another’s limitations, enhancing the customer experience and creating a frictionless and seamless customer centric journey. We will see agents performing higher value, more complex tasks and increasing their focus on providing assisted service to more digitally primed self-service channel engagements, where required. People and machines will combine their respective strengths to maintain a personal, more human experience and move from the world of providing mass service to mass personalisation.
What trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2018?
The customer service industry will experience the biggest digital shift yet in 2018 as CX brand leaders seek to expand channels, leverage analytics, adopt automation, and integrate the front office with back office operations. CX pioneers should prepare for a surge in the adoption of disrupter technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), digital self-service, and bot tools as well as the need to hire data scientists to improve business intelligence and better enable consumers to get the right answer fast. These digital capabilities will help some businesses, with the right unified engagement strategy and delivery expertise, to unlock a treasure trove of transformational potential for optimising customer experience — balancing the cost of service with frictionless engagement.
What technology do you think is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
Customer care is in the midst of mass disruption. Technologies are advancing at record speed, driving customer expectations higher than ever. Accustomed to having everything inter-connected, 24×7, with one swipe, today’s consumers seem to be evolving faster than the customer care provided by brands.
AI and cognitive technologies — notably, chatbot technologies — are dominating the conversation as one of the more interesting disruptors at play. While the technical proficiency required to escalate from channel-to-channel or bot to live agent was once a luxury, today’s customers demand nothing less.
And yet only 36% of contact centres are currently able to track a customer journey that spans multiple channels, and a mere 17% can locate problem hot spots that negatively impact the customer experience. This is a major concern for most contact centres, as customer churn rapidly increases.
Do you see any new technologies on the horizon?
Today’s contact centres are dealing with two key challenges. On the one hand, there are growing volumes of digital interactions. On the other hand, customer experience has become more important than ever for successful brand differentiation. These challenges suggest that 2018 may be the tipping point for many contact centres. Recent research confirmed that 88% of contact centre professionals expect digital to overtake voice by 2020 or sooner. If this is to be the case, cloud adoption will most likely increase due to its multichannel functionality and future-proofing capabilities.
Which customer interactions do you think cannot or should not be automated?
The first is an obvious caveat: when you automate customer service, you necessarily tone down the human element of your support strategy. Customers can resent having to deal with a machine. Indeed, empathy, a quintessentially human ability, is an essential part of exemplary customer service. It is widely recognised by leading brands in CX that emotionally engaging with customers reduced attrition and increased advocacy. Humans are the technology’s backup, maintenance, and escape hatch. For the escalation of complex tasks and problems, humans are a necessity for your customers to receive efficient and empathetic service. Always give the customer the option to talk to a human if they’d rather take it slow. Customer service automation is a valuable tool, but it isn’t a crutch for poor management or agent engagement.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
Never compromise, in every aspect of your life. Professionally for me, this advice couldn’t be more accurate when I build my team around me. I try to be the best I can at what I do and I want people around me who strive to do the same and can challenge myself and our organisation to achieve even greater success.
About Iain Banks
Iain Banks, Regional VP International Markets, TTEC is responsible for developing TTEC’s full International go-to-market business plan for sales, marketing and solutions. Iain is an experienced, senior-level business development professional with a career spanning more than 18 years in the Global BPO/Contact Centre environment, with a proven track record in delivering business results including new logo sales, organic account growth and strong operational relationships. Iain has previously held senior positions in the contact centre industry at companies including Sitel, Sykes and Kura (CS) Ltd.
TTEC (NASDAQ: TTEC) is a global customer experience company that designs, builds and operates captivating omnichannel customer experiences on behalf of the world’s most innovative brands. The Company provides its outcome-based customer engagement solutions through TTEC Digital which designs and builds customer experience consulting and technology solutions and TTEC Engage which operates customer care, growth and trust and safety services. Founded in 1982, TTEC partners with business leadership across marketing, sales and customer care to design and deliver a simple, more human customer experience across every interaction channel. The Company’s 49,500 employees operate on six continents across the globe and live by a set of customer-focused values that guide relationships with clients, their customers, and each other. To learn more about how TTEC is bringing humanity to the customer experience, visit www.ttec.com/emea