How to prepare for a fully integrated digital future

Now that the dust is settling after a forced speedy digital transformation, for a lot of businesses and institutions it turns out more was possible than thought in advance. More importantly, a big step has been made towards a world in which ‘digital’ and ‘real’ are no longer separate, but intertwined. Invited by Genesys, we talked with Steven van Belleghem about opportunities and possibilities.

Conceptual image of a team reviewing data/alerts/solutions via a futuristic interface.
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The corona crisis provided a big impetus for many businesses and institutions that were up till then half-heartedly exploring the possibilities for digital transformation. In an at times painful and sudden process, more turned out to be possible than previously estimated. Remote work enabled a lot of companies to not just continue business, even activities revolving completely around customer contact turned out to be compatible. Entire call centres could remain operational, with agents working out of dozens or hundreds of living rooms, while for example physical therapists (an occupation to which physical touch is integral) could continue their services at least in part remotely.

Without negating the many occupations and activities that were forced to come to a temporary stop, a recurring observation is that if we had to experience a corona crisis, there was no better time in the past than now. Technologically we were equipped with the tools to keep a large part of the economy operational through remote work and digital interfaces. Steven van Belleghem, UX expert and keynote speaker in popular demand, speaks about the contours of a ‘Golden digital age’. Comparable to earlier economic revolutions, from the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th century and the Age of Steam in the middle of the 19th century to the IT revolution of the late Seventies, he distinguishes eras of gradual development, followed by brief periods of chaos and recession, leading up to a prolonged time of maturity and growth. In the case of the IT revolution it is possible that after the dotcom crisis of the turn of the century and a period of crisis since 2008, the ‘sustainable golden age’ is right around the corner.

Day After Tomorrow Steven van Belleghem

According to Van Belleghem the omnipresence of digital in our daily life is a signal that we are moving into a new era. Although invisible, digital services are integral to modern existence, from online shopping to communication and entertainment. Even as we still distinguish the ‘offline’ and ‘online’, the near future will be a fully integrated hybrid, with the two inextricably interwoven. An early example would be Amazon’s experimental, register-less stores, based on technology which will be introduced in many other environments.

Such technology succeeds or fails with the user, in many cases: the customer. If the advantages for the customer are clear, success will follow. As Steve Jobs said, “start with the customer experience, then work backwards”.

Making the most of customer data

When it comes to customer experience, customers desire to be taken seriously. They do not want to have to repeat the same story they already told another representative, wrote into a webform or shared via Twitter. In order for the real world and the digital to truly weave together, systems need to be integrated as well. With a complete overview of prior contact data, your representative is not just able to see all earlier interaction, they can also anticipate questions and ensure the customer receives a satisfactory answer as quickly as possible. Genesys adopts this integrated approach to customer data, and uses it not only  to ascertain satisfactory contact from the customer’s perspective. In a similar way, leveraging historical data can be used to enable businesses to time their outreach to website visitors and potential customers in such a way that the contact will most likely convert into a transaction. Genesys Predictive Engagement does exactly that.

Seamless interfaces

We already referred to the fact customers have many ways to get in touch with a business, but that also means businesses have to be present to answer the call – be it an actual one or a virtual representation. In this too, digital interfaces that are properly implemented can make all the difference between a middling experience and a great one. Everyone has struggled with interminable phone menus and prerecorded messages, rarely a pleasant experience – and these days an altogether unnecessary one.

Using AI driven speech recognition common questions can be answered by digital agents, greatly increasing a company’s capacity at times of high customer interaction, such as during a promotion or recall. Skills-based routing can ensure a complex question is not just handed off to a human agent quickly, but to one most well-versed in the subject matter. From a business perspective this ensures optimum use of valuable human resources – from a customer’s point of view, they get the best answer possible.

Together is (even) better

In other cases, the best result may well stem from augmenting human agents with digital ones, in the words of Van Belleghem Augmented Intelligence. Here a digital system supports a human agent with suggestions, retrieving relevant information prompted by text and speech recognition while the agent talks with the customer. This can greatly reducing the much-dreaded periods of ‘hold please’ and not just ensure the fastest possible answer, but also the most complete one. And in the case of a sales conversation, it is the way to ensure no cross or up sell opportunity is forgotten.

To hear more of Steven’s The Day After Tomorrow, do view the webinar and follow-up interview. For more information about Genesys Customer Experience Solutions, click here.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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