David MortonDavid MortonJuly 26, 2019


Brands are working harder than ever to enhance Customer Experience as people increasingly demand a streamlined and immediate service from the companies they interact with.

Research from Dimension Data shows that 58 percent of consumers would be willing to spend more money with those businesses that provide excellent customer service.

But while companies currently offer an average of 11 channels through which customers can make contact – from webchat and apps to email and phone communication – the challenge is that these systems, and the processes behind them, are rarely connected. Insights gathered from each interaction are often fed into individual silos for each channel. The Dimension Data research found that only eight per cent of companies believe that all of their points of contact with the customer are integrated, with a third unable to track customer journeys at all.

To put it simply, these businesses lack a ‘single view of the customer’ that can help overcome the barrier of disjointed CX by providing agents with all the information they need about a customer on one platform. By adopting this approach, brands can avoid the common problem of consumers quickly becoming frustrated if they must explain their problem multiple times to more than one representative, or discuss historical issues and interactions each time they make contact.

A 360° view customer platform

The wealth of data companies have available to them can help them transform how they engage with their customers. Retailers, for example, can harness information relating to buying history, delivery, and returns, and even personal details such as product preferences and customer tastes, to provide a joined-up and bespoke, tailored experience. 

The solution is to create one automated platform, underpinned by artificial intelligence (AI), that collates data for each customer at every possible touch point. By providing this information to customer service agents in a dashboard format, they have all of the up-to-date, relevant information they need to answer a query. For automated systems, such as chatbots, the data can be continually fed into the system’s software.

By using AI, the platform can also generate recommendations for agents to follow, based on data covering customers’ past purchases, browsing behaviour and previous interactions with the brand. Along with helping representatives to have positive and productive dialogue to improve loyalty, it can also be applied to outbound campaigns to boost sales by identifying the right time and right channel to contact a customer.

Scope: ‘Disjointed’ Customer Experience means agents don’t have all a customer’s info at hand

Integration in practice

Before implementing a 360-degree platform, companies must first audit all of the existing channels available to their customers. The process allows brands to identify any areas that are not currently integrated, and pinpoint areas for improvement and optimisation.

Once the audit is complete, data can then be automatically consolidated and integrated into one easily accessible platform. Automation plays a key role here, continually collating and feeding information from multiple databases into one customer relationship management (CRM) system that can be updated in real time.

Agent augmentation

But technology is only half the story. New digital tools can enhance the role of advisors by empowering them to interact with customers in the most efficient and knowledgeable way. They also provide an opportunity for businesses to upskill their employees, equipping them with top quality communications skills to enable them to field the most complex queries and handle high-value requests, such as those requiring negotiation or emotional sensitivity.

Investment in staff is an effective way of boosting service quality, helping them to build and maintain relationships that cannot be handled by technology alone, ultimately serving to boost the bottom line.

Data presents an opportunity for businesses to create a holistic view of each of their customers, which they must capitalise on in order to deliver the outstanding service expected of them. This approach will allow them to benefit from the highest levels of customer satisfaction, helping to boost customer loyalty for the long-term and – crucially – drive sales. 

David MortonDavid MortonJanuary 2, 2019


Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are regularly hailed as the future of a more personalised and responsive approach to customer services.

However, their emergence as a realistic option for a wide range of businesses has raised fears over threats to jobs, as a growing number of tasks become destined for automation. 

There is no denying that AI stands to change the way customer service is delivered and will, in time, replace some functions that are currently handled by people. But the fear that it will result in mass redundancies is often overstated.

In reality, the technology will help to transform roles into more highly-skilled positions demanding top quality communications and digital skills. For example agent augmentation can support the advisor with real time, contextual information from which outcomes which are insight driven will deliver an enhanced customer experience.   

To quantify the impact that robotic process automation (RPA) and AI will have on customer service operations over the next ten years, Arvato conducted an in-depth, global, six-month research project with AT Kearney. According to our findings, 27 percent of current operations could be automated in the next five years – if the technology is adopted as estimated – rising to 45 percent by 2027.

At the same time, we believe that customer service representatives will evolve and up-skill as their roles are enhanced by technology. This presents an exciting opportunity for contact centres with the potential for higher-value careers for employees and better experiences for the customer.

As such, customer services of the future will become a hybrid of technology and algorithms (artificial intelligence) and people (human intelligence). 

One reason for this is that brands are increasingly focusing on customer service as a way of standing out from the competition. According to research from Deloitte, 62 percent of companies now view the customer services as a competitive differentiator. The result is that they are becoming a central part of the brand experience, and high-quality customer service is being prioritised across more and more product lines and channels. With such focus on improving quality, the human element of experience must remain at the forefront. 

Customer service roles will change, however, as more of the transactional work is automated, particularly in back office functions. Dealing with simple queries and handling frequently asked questions will be picked up by chat bots integrated with AI and more intuitive self-service platforms – a trend that’s already in motion. Yet, when it comes to strategic areas like customer retention, which require discussion and negotiation skills, humans will continue to play the primary role.

But it will be one that is supported and augmented by technology. For example, when talking with a customer, the advisor may have access to a series of recommendations or actions through their AI-driven CRM system, to help steer the conversation in the right direction. These will be created by predictive analytics and based on previous customer actions. Alternatively, they could be prompted in real time by certain keywords that the customer uses in interactions and are picked up and interpreted by AI.

Naturally, a more technology-enabled working environment will change the type of employees that brands need to hire to deliver customer service. Digital skills will be key, but because advisors will routinely deal with more high-value tasks, there will also be a greater emphasis placed on a more empathetic, problem-solving approach, creating demand for more experienced workers. While this will raise the cost-per-head for providers, it will return productivity gains.

The customer service industry has proven itself to be highly adaptable. Employees now typically work seamlessly across multiple channels, including voice, social media, email and webchat, and interact with sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems. For example, the average contact centre now supports nine different channels, according to Dimension Data.

Adapting to a new landscape of AI and automation will require a great deal of training and development, but as brands continue to focus on delivering exceptional experiences for customers, new technologies will enhance the capabilities of human advisors, rather than diminish them.

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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



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