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How to Transform Customer Care and Support

Leaders of Customer Care and Support teams have discovered that the legacy approach of designing and building call centers with rows upon rows of agents in tiny cubicles is obsolete. Staff turnover is typically very high in these environments. Now, there's a better approach on the horizon, as a result of experience gained from the COVID-19 pandemic era.

Contact center as a service (CCaaS) will likely reach full mainstream adoption in less than two years, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner. Some customer service and support early adopters of CCaaS have overcome the initial hurdles and are beginning to experience the benefits.

"CCaaS is a growth market," said Drew Kraus, vice president at Gartner. "The technology offers greater software agility with a lower cost of ownership, making it a key area of investment in innovation and customer service applications that surpasses the offers of legacy premises-based or server technology."

Contact Center as a Service Market Development

To realize the full benefits of CCaaS, service and support leaders should reduce the impacts of transitioning off legacy systems by focusing on providers with referenceable transition frameworks and methodologies for migrating from relevant on-premises systems to their CCaaS offerings.

Work from Home (WFH) agent technology is the only technology to enter the "Plateau of Productivity" in the 2021 Gartner Hype Cycle for Customer Service and Support Technologies.

"The adoption of WFH agent technology has passed 50 percent across organizations thanks to the move to remote work during the early stages of the pandemic," said Kraus.

According to the Gartner assessment, many leaders are now reviewing technologies and processes to optimize what is becoming a mainstream business practice of supporting flexible work environments for customer service agents, in addition to what will become standard practice for maintaining business continuity during any future disasters.

In parallel, consumer messaging apps have reached mainstream maturity and will begin to impact businesses in less than two years. These chat-based applications enable consumers to communicate among themselves and with organizations.

Although most used for Business to Consumer (B2C), the applications are increasingly being used for Business to Business (B2B) to support direct sales and engage channel partners. Organizations that successfully leverage consumer messaging applications will broaden the reach to customers, generate traffic to direct channels and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Gartner recommends service organizations start by using consumer messaging applications to address the most common types of customer interactions such as account balance, order status, and change notifications. Seek to develop a unified strategy beyond omnichannel to enable continuous experience across channels.

Outlook for Customer Care Applications Growth

The proliferation of digital engagement channels has reinforced customers’ expectations of instantaneous, seamless, and effortless service experiences. The customer’s need for self-service, combined with conversational artificial intelligence (AI), has led to an evolution of engagement models.

As such, Gartner sees the emergence of a new area of customer care referred to as Digital Customer Service applications. These new offerings focus on seamless conversation orchestration across digital communication channels.

Gartner believes the customer-centric organizations that embrace digital customer service will reap the benefits of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. They'll also mitigate the risk of disconnected conversations with less procedural structures.

That said, as more customer care and support leaders adopt geographically distributed workforce models they will seek out information and guidance from vendors and managed service providers with skills and experience on the deployment of SD-WAN and Digital Workspace solutions.

These technologies enhance a remote working agent's secure access to the required customer care software applications from any location around the globe. It's a proven path to business model transformation, improved employee experience and increased productivity. It's also a CHRO strategy to advance front-line talent recruitment and retention practices.

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