Blending Talent & Technology: Evolving Customer Care For The Millennial Generation

The first Directors Club breakfast briefing seminar of 2019, in partnership with TTEC, saw Simon Rainbow (VP at TTEC) look at how you can blend talent and technology within the evolving customer care space, specifically to support the millennial generation…

Digital innovations are revolutionising CX

At TTEC we are seeing a number of trends across the CX industry, not just customer care. Trends such as a multitude of self-care channels and options, automation of simple and repetitive functions, increased efficiency and lower workload, reduced failure demand volumes, and greater consistency in customer experience.

The proliferation of channels, data and innovation make it more complicated than ever. Automation is not a silver bullet and companies need a thoughtful approach to managing artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) as customers still want to talk to a human, and companies still want to talk to their customers.

According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with brands without interacting with a human. So it is certain that automation will continue to play a larger role throughout the global CX industry. New technologies and the quest for cost savings have already led industry leaders to rely more heavily on robotics.

Google’s AI Assistant is getting so smart it can place phone calls and humans think they’re talking to real people. It has a convincing voice and can save you time by performing simple tasks such as reserving tables, scheduling hair appointments and more. Google does say there is more work to be done before it is ready.

AI and chatbots however, in our opinion, are still not able to replicate the human element, for example they lack empathy and that will not change any time soon. The human element is still very much essential.

Given the developments we’re already seeing in the AI and machine learning area, we will see robots “mature” and become more useful over time. So how do you blend humans and technology and ensure you deliver excellence at every touchpoint in the customer journey with a blend of People, Process, and Technology?

Well first you have to have the right people with the right training, tools, knowledge, and mindset. There are many ways to do this. For example, develop an all-star team around a culture of caring and passion, delivering the best possible experiences for your customers and brand, provide training, technology, and facilities to represent your brand to your most important assets – your customers and your employees, and implement solutions such as a digital recruitment engine, an ongoing learning approach, or a web-based business intelligence platform that provide real-time views of employee’s performance.

Channel preferences are shifting by generation.

We have also seen 64% of baby boomers prefer voice versus only 12% of millennials, with ‘doomsday predictions’ that this is the end of contact centres being overly zealous & inaccurate. The work that will remain, however, will be complex and challenging as customers will raise complicated issues that could not be solved by AI or automation.

These problems may not have defined solutions. Also some customers will simply prefer not to leverage self-care and will demand human care. There are also customers who we want to contact proactively, with automation shifting contact centre volumes from failure demand to value demand. This will require account relationship management where representatives focus on maximising a customer’s lifetime value.

A symbiotic relationship

Automation, bots, and omnichannel solutions are making it easier for customers to interact with a brand and this presents an opportunity to deepen and expand customer relationships.

We envisage a hybrid workforce where Bots, or digital Guides, work seamlessly with our human Guides – the digital Guides simplifying and human Guides engaging, allowing us to reduce cost, increase sales, and improve the customer experience.

The IVA (an Intelligent Virtual Agent) is trained with the same materials used for live agents, structured into a format it can “read” within the Training Platform. A symbiotic relationship is formed and only after the IVA is proven during interactions with live agents is it released for direct interaction with customers.

In the digital revolution, a more highly skilled Workforce is even more critical.

We are seeing rapid change in the expectations of potential and existing talent. The competition for quality labour is increasing and Millennials and Gen Z are more discerning decision makers.

Gen Y/Z change jobs more than other generations. We are in a job war for talent in most if not all of our markets. It will mean more complex work as agents interactions have a higher likelihood to be emotive and have a higher value, therefore there will be a different skill requirement such as complex problem solving and critical thinking, with a higher expectation for personal and career development.

The challenge for contact centres today is retaining the higher skilled talent needed in the future. Organisations that will be successful will be those that adapt their customer care value proposition.