The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

OpenTalk 2021 – Lessons On The Contact Center As The Customer Experience Hub

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As you can tell from our consistent reporting, virtual user group conference season has been long and fruitful. I certainly attended more virtual user group conferences this year than I have attended live conferences over the past several years. This one in particular, put on by TalkDesk, was well worth the time and energy.

In our converged commerce world, we generally find two retailer foci, Omnichannel and the Customer Experience (generally abbreviated to CX). Retailers’ focus tends to be on making the purchase process seamless, easy and informative. Everyone is certainly working on faster delivery and the physical returns process. But what happens when something goes wrong? What happens when a customer inquiry comes in via phone?

You all know the answer because everyone shops. Everyone has to talk to a human post-purchase, across all industries. And these days, we’re sometimes talking pre-delivery as well. Every single one of you reading this groaned at the thought of being on the shopper side of one of those phone calls. You know it. Banks, cable TV providers and yes, retailers.

If you’re like me, you’ve screamed into the phone at faceless human beings who are completely scripted and don’t really understand what you’re saying. Of course, if you’re a retailer, you might look at the cost of your contact center and said “Good… the number has shrunk as a percentage of sales.” But the day will come when your sales shrink as well. That’s the power of a poor contact center experience.

In our post-pandemic times, can we improve the contact center experience, regardless of where the representatives are physically located? TalkDesk believes we can, and the company has the receipts to prove it.

Partner Brian Kilcourse made the following observations on the conference, worth noting here:

Rob Peterson (CX Strategy) talked about shifting to a ‘proactive’ CX strategy. TalkDesk is cloud-based, and so it can quickly consumer incoming data and analyze the data to make an early identification of trends. He demonstrated heat mapping to show when potential problem areas are starting to become real problems and how TalkDesk’s application uses traffic light visuals (green, yellow, red) to be able to do some causal analysis and make fast recommendations for corrective action. As you know, this is an area RSR has been obsessing over: fixing what’s broken, quickly. We’ve focused on locations with issues, and TalkDesk has opened our eyes to products or stores or channels that have broken.

 “Innovation, A Better Way” presented by CK Kannan, chief product officer, was Brian’s favorite session of the day:

Kannan talked about the system’s ability to prioritize ‘jobs to be done’ based on causal analysis. Secondly, she talked about the overall goal to increase customer self-service rates and improve the time it takes for agents to get to a resolution. The solution features ‘quality asset management assist’ and an ‘agent assist’ capabilities: AI/ML tools that automatically improve help scripts and navigation maps to get the caller or the agent to get to the best solution very quickly. To make that possible, TalkDesk has CX Sensors, CX clusters, and CX analytics. CX sensors are bits of code that are monitoring problems and their resolutions; CX Clusters sound like a capability that can aggregate related problems; CX Analytics is the causal analysis piece. Finally, she made two announcements, ‘Experience clouds’ for financial services and healthcare, a data sink of shared data which would help participating clients to ID problems and their resolutions much faster.

Brian’s recommendation is that if you can, give yourself a chance to watch the Innovation, A Better Way session on demand. In fact, all the sessions are available on demand here. Registration is required.

For me, it’s a simple calculus. As a customer, I know we need better contact center experiences. It is absolutely the long-term weakest link in the Customer Experience chain (at this moment, I must give that Razzie award to the Supply Chain, but that will sort itself out eventually. It also adds demands to the contact center, as people ask, “Where’s my stuff???”).

I know it might be a tough ask for retailers, but we can’t keep obsessing about CX without considering pre- and post-purchase support. And if technology can help keep costs down while improving that experience, then it’s a win-win-win.

Folks, it really is time to put the Contact Center in focus through the lens of the customer experience. It might well be the weakest link in your Customer Experience chain.

Newsletter Articles June 22, 2021
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