A new generation of customers has arrived, fuelled by the pandemic-induced shift to digital. They’re demanding a new generation of customer service, enabled by emerging channels such as digital messaging and chatbots, and hyper-personalised, AI-driven services.
While organisations have been forced to digitise as a result of the mass shift to remote and hybrid working, and an increasing reliance on cloud-based services, many continue to face hurdles in modernising the contact centre experience to ensure brand loyalty. These obstacles include technical debt emerging from on-premise systems and muddled business processes, frustrating data silos, and ever more complex regulations.
However, organisations that can’t meet these growing expectations for personalised experiences risk losing market share.
What is hyper-personalised customer experience?
While traditional personalisation focuses on personal and transactional information such as name, organisation, and purchase history, hyper-personalisation is more complex and takes into consideration behavioural and real-time data such as browsing habits, in-app actions, and engagement data.
Making use of this data can help organisations engage in more contextualised communication with the new generation of customers, who are increasingly reliant on fast, seamless communication that will help them get their issues solved while they juggle a number of other tasks.
This growing demand is being driven, in particular, by millennials. Making up a fifth of the population, this is the first generation that has spent their entire lives with access to technology, resulting in consumers who value accessibility and convenience over everything else.
With this in mind, it has never been more important for businesses, of all sizes, to evolve their contact centres to meet these increasingly digital demands. After all, this same generation also has more choices than ever before. Those who don’t modernise risk missing out.
Modernising contact centres for many businesses can seem daunting, particularly those laden with technical debt that can get in the way of a seamless customer experience.
Some organisations, for example, remain steadfastly off the cloud, making it difficult to leverage AI and machine learning capabilities, while others suffer from disorganised data architecture that can lead to incomplete or inaccessible analytics, vital for informing business strategy and enabling personalised experiences.
Leading experts discussed these challenges at a recent CIO roundtable hosted by Microsoft.
“Legacy businesses, trying to do this stuff is sometimes a different challenge to ones who are born in the cloud,” says Rob Smithson, who leads business applications for Microsoft UK.
There’s also the issue of data silos, particularly now that workers are splitting their time between their homes and the office. While personalisation requires masses of data, some businesses strand data in a silo, an isolated storage place inaccessible to the rest of the organisation. This makes it difficult to leverage data for decision making and to create a complete picture of the customer journey.
Then there is the issue of data privacy – a growing concern among consumers. The new generation of consumers value data privacy and transparency with utmost importance. – and you only have to look at Meta’s recent data privacy lawsuit, in which the company was forced to pay $90M for its use of proprietary plug-ins to track users’ internet browsing on third-party sites – shows how serious the implications can be.
“Our interpretation of data security rules are quite severe,” said one representative from the IT sector at Microsoft’s recent CIO roundtable. “So therefore with some solutions, if data is not encrypted, we can’t use it. How do you get to this heightened level of data security both with the data at rest and in transit? It’s proving a bit of a blockage for some of our work.”
Cloud and AI
For most organisations, meeting customer expectations for hyper-personalised, secure interactions means improving the contact centre experience, both for customers and the agents who manage their concerns. It also requires a solution that will enable businesses to make holistic changes quickly with limited to no downtime and scale resources to respond to unexpected situations.
That’s where artificial intelligence comes in. Backed by the cloud, this technology is fundamental to the contact centre of the future. Not only can it help organisations use the data they collect to better understand consumer behaviour and derive predictive insights, but it also enables organisations to seamlessly improve the customer experience by delivering hyper-personalised experiences.
Of course, that’s not to say human contact centre agents will no longer be needed. For those conversations that require a softer, more emotional approach, AI technology can serve to complement and augment human agents, which means the experience is improving for your employees as well as your customers.
Ultimately, winning the trust and loyalty of today’s modern customers depends on how well businesses across every industry utilise their customer data and empower their teams to make every digital and physical engagement matter.
Download our latest e-guide: Five Keys to Future-Proofing Your Customer Service Success and discover insights on how your company can ensure the best possible customer service experience in an ever-evolving business landscape.
Microsoft, Microsoft 365