As consumers continue to become more digital-savvy, organisations are considering – and even implementing – more cost-effective digital channels as part of their evolving customer engagement strategies.

For many, this means investing in AI solutions like virtual assistants, in-store virtual helpdesks, and automated chat. But the message from customers is that a ‘digital by default’ approach isn’t always conducive to a positive experience.

According to research Verint conducted across 24,000 global consumers for The Digital Tipping Point, human contact is still critical.

More specifically, consumers say their channel of choice, whether digital or traditional, is determined by the complexity of their requests.

For simple tasks, the phone is the most popular option (22 percent), while email and SMS are secondary. However, as customer requests become more complex, reliance on human interaction increases. More than a third of customers prefer to go in-store (34 percent) for complex enquiries, while another third prefer to connect by phone (33 percent).

Businesses that understand the Customer Experience as the basis for how they compete and win the market need to not only establish their customer’s channel preferences, but ensure they deliver a satisfactory and seamless service across all channels. And, of course, it must be done efficiently and cost-effectively.

The often previously overlooked – and possibly under-invested in – back office plays a key role in doing so. With a well-functioning, predictable back office organisation tool implemented, all the information and data required by the front office to deliver a positive customer experience can be aligned.

To improve coordination between the two, it isn’t a case of simply adding back office employees to front office systems. The two environments are vastly different and require different capabilities and skills sets.

To drive the optimum outcome, agile organisations are opting to implement a back-office work optimisation solution to connect processes and tasks end-to-end to create and manage customer journeys and positive outcomes.

Immediate benefits are two-fold: front and back office teams can proactively collaborate to improve the speed and accuracy of customer service, whilst the organisation benefits from increased productivity and performance and a reduction in backlogs and complaint potential.

Evolving technologies like AI will continue to play a role in the future, allowing businesses to auto-mate simple requests and processes in order to prioritise the personal touch for more complex or personal issues.

Yet alongside all of this, businesses have to break out of the old ways of working – using command control tactics – to embrace a new way, centred more around engaging and empowering the work-force.

Work traditionally undertaken in the back office can, and should, also be broken out of its traditional bricks and mortar residence to become part of blended end-to-end operations. Remote workers, employees working flexible hours, and those in the call centre, branch, and field all play a major and effective role in responding to and improving the customer interaction experience.

To gain the most benefit, organisations need to be able to forecast the skills, availability, and capabilities required to efficiently allocate work to their increasingly blended workforce, optimising ‘downtime’ and reducing inefficiency.

They need reliable, predictive analytics, alerts, and notifications that identify exactly where latency and surplus capacity exists before things go wrong. Comprehensive metrics are no longer an operational luxury.

Visionary organisations are the ones which not only understand that positive Customer Experience is key to a sustainable competitive advantage – they recognise that this leads to customer retention and, ultimately, affinity.

It is vital to ensure clear collaboration between the front and back office functions to create a blended workforce. With the right infrastructure, processes, and culture in place, businesses can implement a strong strategy to effectively service and retain customers, influence sales, and heighten engagement and loyalty.

Subscribe to our newsletter for more stories like this

Subscribe

About The Author

Nick Nonini is the EMEA Managing Director at Verint Systems. He has over a decade’s experience developing strong customer relationship strategies for brands like T-Mobile, Lenovo, and Verint Systems.