The past few years have ushered in the “modernize movement” within the contact center industry. Companies are recognizing the need to upgrade their systems, but often create a new problem while fixing an old one. How do companies modernize without over-complicating their contact centers? The answer is artificial intelligence (AI), which is an answer dripping with irony: fixing a new problem – created by trying to bring a contact center into the 21st century – with a futuristic solution! But, as we marked the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this summer; we embrace the Apollo spirit of solving problems that didn’t exist before we embarked on a seemingly impossible task.
The Digital Era is Here
Just as the 60’s was the “race to the moon” era, the 20-teens is the digital era for the customer service industry. Digital transformation is impacting the business landscape faster than ever with notable heavyweights dropping rapidly. According to ZK Research, half of the current S&P will be replaced in the next 10 years. And, more than half of the Fortune 500 since 2000 are already gone.
As has always been the case; companies that move fast, innovate and stay ahead of the proverbial curve are the companies that survive or replace the ones that do not. Driving change is the overarching theme and key concept behind digital transformation. It underscores the importance of being agile and adaptable. In fact, digital transformation may be the single biggest issue that permeates all corners of the business world since the Y2K mania.
Customer Experience Reigns Supreme
Consumers have evolved beyond simply comparing products on price. Price wars can be won through a few extra clicks, but customer experience (CX) is the intangible that sets companies apart. According to studies in 2013 and 2015 from Walker and Gartner respectively, CX will overtake all decision-making factors – including price – as the top brand differentiator by 2020. When these reports came out a few years ago, many companies scoffed at the idea that price would not always be the most important component in the buyer’s choice equation. How many companies on this list of retailers affected by the Retail Apocalypse, including retail titans like Abercrombie & Fitch, Dress Barn, Gap J.C. Penney, Macy’s, RadioShack, Sears, Shopko, and Toys “R” Us, held onto to their dependency on price?
Consider the hotel industry… Location is key and so is price, and in some situations that can still make a difference; but CX and reviews on sites like Yelp are often the difference-maker. When booking a one-night stay in San Francisco for meetings at our headquarters, I chose to stay at a national brand hotel near the airport rather than one of several “boutique” hotels within walking distance of our office. While the prices were comparable, the boutique hotels had the clear advantage on location. However, user reviews were abysmal and were ultimately the deciding factor for me.
If you are waiting to overhaul your CX, or are a slow-moving enterprise, you will be left behind (if not already) and competitors are pulling away while you play catch-up.
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