In their recent 2021 survey of contact center leaders, Deloitte Digital explores how post-pandemic contact centers are rapidly evolving into customer experience (CX) hubs. The survey is well worth the read, outlining 5 critical findings. For me, the most striking insight underlying them all is this fundamental reality: CX is the dominant strategic force driving customer care, customer loyalty, and customer profitability.

More importantly, those few customer care centers that had already invested in the technology, infrastructure, and staffing models to enable remote workforces before the pandemic emerged as today’s (and tomorrow’s) central strategic growth partners to the brands they serve.

Here are my key takeaways from Deloitte’s 5 insights.

1. The cloud wake-up call came a little late for some providers.

By the end of last year, fewer than one-third of contact centers had fully transitioned to cloud technology. The survey indicates that 75% plan to complete the move to the cloud within the next two years. My reaction to those numbers is that they validate what so many brands have already discovered: that will probably be too late to repair damage already done to customer relationships. The fact is, many companies dragged their feet on the cloud due to a perception of security risks.

 

2. Artificial Intelligence enables better

When consumers reach out for help from the brands they patronize, they want to feel understood, acknowledged, helped, and cared for. While the gold standard for meeting those needs used to be defined as “all human, all the time,” the truth is, that standard has often caused the greatest consumer frustration. Consider how COVID magnified consumer demands. Today, when customers want a simple answer to a basic question, they just want the facts. They want them fast. And they want to feel confident that the answer they got was accurate, with no risk of human misunderstandings or wrong answers.  In other words, they don’t want to wait in a queue or even bother with the niceties of an actual human interaction; they’re on a fact-finding mission.

But those same customers absolutely demand that, when they reach out to that same brand for support or assistance on non-basic matters, they have quick access to a caring person who will listen, solve, and show authentic human care. Today’s consumers want both. And they have a sophisticated understanding of what truly customer-centric brands are capable of delivering. So when their brand fails to deliver, they’re quick to shop around for one that can. Deloitte’s research validated that fact by analyzing more than 300,000 social media posts and discovering that “person-to-person service interactions were the most common factors cited in posts about feeling “valued” by a brand.

 

3. Work-from-home (WFH) demands large-scale, long-term re-engineering.

The Deloitte study underscores how radically the pandemic shook up the customer care industry. Just two years ago, a mere 6% of customer service agents worked from home. Today, more than three-quarters (77%) of service organizations are developing or ramping up WFH initiatives, and 80% intend to completely shut down their brick-and-mortar centers. As so many of us have observed in the mad scramble over the past years, however, hastily pulled together WFH tactics make pretty flimsy band-aids. These organizations will be forced to make massive investments in re-engineered processes, infrastracture, staffing models, and technology to truly succeed.

 

4. It’s an omni-channel world.

While consumers may prefer to “pick a channel” to initiate an interaction and switch channels as needed, they expect to be “ushered” and handed off through those transitions. Today’s customers want to be able to switch seamlessly between channels as their own schedules, preferences, and device availabilities morph throughout any given interaction or series of interactions. According to Deloitte, 87% of customers grow frustrated when forced to repeat their information or question in multiple channels – and a very alarming 73% react to that frustration by questioning whether they want to do business with that brand.

 

5. The “cost center” mentality has lost its usefulness.

I’ve said it so many times over the past few years, but it always bears repeating: the customer care center of tomorrow is the strategic partner to the brand. It is the center of expertise for driving positive CX, increased revenue, customer loyalty, and profitability.  It’s good to see that the Deloitte study finds movement in that mindset. According to the survey, “the percentage of service leaders whose top priority is increasing revenues will double in the next two years, while the percentage whose top priority is cost reduction will drop by 32%.”

If you want more details, you can read the entire Deloitte study here.  And if you would like to know more about how Skybridge Americas partners with consumer-centric brands to deliver seamless, superior customer experience, please reach out. We would love to talk!

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