The COVID-19 pandemic has created a stark dichotomy ― while some businesses have struggled to sustain themselves, others have faced the challenge of increased demand. In response to the impact of the pandemic, most businesses are looking to embrace technology and accelerate their digital transformation. This requires supporting their critical pillars of success, such as customer experience (CX) ― which was considerably impacted by the pandemic ― and building a resilient business that is ready for any future disruption.
In the context of CX, call wait times have increased, and many calls have gone unattended as the shift to working from home has taken longer than expected for some businesses.
As people around the world have retreated into isolation, the need for enhanced customer care has never been more acute. For organizations, it is not only about meeting customer needs and resolving queries, it is also about positioning themselves in a way to stay apace with the changing customer preferences brought about by the crisis.
When the pandemic struck, customer expectations were not limited to voice calls; many customers turned to digital channels with high expectations for more personalization, and companies were challenged with providing a superior customer experience.
To create an enriching experience for customers, businesses are increasingly turning toward technology to create a fine balance between humans and machines and address today’s CX needs. A multitude of emerging technologies are creating a change in the way organizations can improve customer experience today.
Many enterprises are embracing automation to manage basic queries. In response to the pandemic, they have deployed chatbots or self-service portals to manage an immediate set of customer inquiries. With large volumes of data available at contact centers, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can work in tandem with a human agent to drive improved productivity and efficiency. However, the customer care industry is becoming highly specialized, and an agent is expected to not only resolve the query but also drive more meaningful, engaging and empathetic conversations. Analytics is a game changer in this context and will help agents drive better conversations. The increasing use of speech analytics, text analytics or sentiment analytics is helping companies bring more informed data to agents to make them smarter and enable proactive conversations.
During the shift to working from home, businesses faced disruptions until agents could settle in and were ready to address queries in their new environment. Enterprises are now seriously considering cloud solutions to enable remote working without such disruptions, as many technologies and solutions have matured over time.
Customer experience is a critical differentiator for most enterprises today. Enterprises that innovate and deliver better experiences are able to sustain and thrive in a competitive environment. Undoubtedly, the ones that deliver superior experiences have been able to retain existing customers and attract new ones, especially in an era when it takes only one bad incident for a customer to switch brands.
In the current state of the market, partnering with the right solution vendor is key to success. With the emergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS), there has been a proliferation of customer-experience oriented solutions in the market. Primarily dominated by large players, the SaaS industry is seeing a dramatic shift with the emergence of several independent software vendors (ISVs) offering innovative solutions. These solutions embed emerging technologies to address critical needs of the customer experience journey and ensure ease of installation with low-code and no-code technology. As adoption of cloud platforms grows, enterprises are keenly considering emerging ISVs for several reasons, customer experience being one of them.
ISG’s enterprise playbook, sponsored by AWS, highlights the factors that are influencing enterprises as they identify and engage with emerging ISVs. Especially in the post COVID-19 era, where as-a-service solutions will gain further prominence and innovation takes precedence, some of these ISVs and their solutions are drawing market attention.
About the author
Namratha Dharshan is director and principal analyst for ISG. With more than 16 years of experience in IT/BPO outsourcing research, she has developed expertise in business processing outsourcing and customer experience broadly focused on horizontals such as finance and accounting and contact center. Her research focuses specifically on customer experience as it relates to digital transformation, omnichannel, analytics, AI and automation.