At a time when the demands and behaviour of the modern customer have been profoundly reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, JSE-listed technology company Jasco and Cloud CRM provider Zendesk are meeting the challenge head on.
The pandemic has pushed most businesses to adopt a digital-first strategy and to rethink and reinvent their customer engagement strategies to provide a superior customer experience (CX) along all stages of the customer journey.
This is according to Andre Schoeman, Head of Product Management and Intelligent Solutions at Jasco, who says enterprises must deploy integrated customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to enhance CX and ultimately boost sales, attract and retain customers and gain a competitive edge.
“To build a stronger and more successful business in this new environment, organisations must look to their customers. Customer service is a key differentiator between companies, a top consideration for customers and a profit-generating force in its own right,” says Schoeman.
“Research shows that customers are increasingly reluctant to give brands a second chances if their expectations aren’t met. They are likely to vote with their feet and take their money elsewhere.”
He adds that research also reflects that customer engagement is up 14% compared to last year, which means more work, but also more opportunities to upsell or cross-sell in ways that better serve customers.
Need for automation
“That is why automation of the CX is necessary now. Customers expect faster, more accurate and intelligent answers to their queries. Yet, enterprises cannot continue to burden their customer service agents with mundane queries that can be handled by automated platforms.”
Market studies show that 68% of customers feel that most businesses need to improve the training of their customer service agents, yet Schoeman says keeping agents trained effectively in a modern contact centre is an onerous task.
“So how do we address this? Obviously with continuous, rigorous and repetitive training we can brute force ourselves through the problem. But at what cost? What is the cost of the down-time spent on all the training?
“Fortunately, our intelligent contact centre and CRM platforms now deliver superior agent assistance tools. These tools quietly and unobtrusively listen in to the conversation between the agent and the customer, surfacing knowledge articles and suggesting next steps to the agent.”
That is if the query even reaches the agent. Automated chat functionality in the modern intelligent contact centre starts the interactions with the customer and, by using natural language parsing, discovers the intent in the customer's text interactions. This allows the chat agent to automatically surface information to the customer before having to hand off the interaction to a human agent.
Support requests are expected to continue soaring, with just over a third of companies predicting a 25% increase in customer engagement in the next two years, however, this level of increase in customer interaction is not sustainable using human agents alone.
“Digitisation of all aspects of the building, including front line customer support is critical. This includes the use of automation and AI in the contact centre to drive interaction where, through natural language understanding, intent is surfaced and knowledge shared based on the understood context,” Schoeman says.
Role of the contact centre
He notes that the role of the contact centre is also evolving, from delivering simple customer service to being the entity that drives brand and quality perception in the market – making it a key driver of future sales and growth.
However, engagement must be seamless across the entire digital platform and customers must be able to communicate with the brand over the channels of their choice, with most turning to social messaging apps to connect with companies. Seamless communication is best achieved through the integration of multiple channels that can be managed via a single interface.
“Instead of siloed chats that start and stop every time a customer reaches out or switches channels, each interaction becomes part of a larger conversation that carries over a lifetime of interactions with the company. The result is a seamless experience for customers and agents alike,” says Schoeman. Zendesk is suited to both inbound and outbound customer engagement, allowing companies to leverage rich customer insights across all departments with the organisation. Zendesk CRM solutions are also designed to help companies empower their customer service agents and sales teams with the tools to be efficient, productive and effective.
“Jasco can customise the platform to meet the needs of any business, no matter how big or small. Zendesk CRM solutions are provided as a managed service, with local support from Jasco on a 24/7 basis. This is great benefit for local organisation as support is available instantaneously,” concludes Schoeman.