Contact Center 2.0 – A New Era of Collaborative and Intelligent Customer Engagement

“I love calling customer service.” – Said no customer ever When’s the last time you had to call customer service? Whether it was a problem with a product, to ask questions before making a purchase, pay your bill or cancel service, I’m sure you felt anxiety leading up to and during the interaction.

When’s the last time you had to call customer service? Whether it was a problem with a product, to ask questions before making a purchase, pay your bill or cancel service, I’m sure you felt anxiety leading up to and during the interaction. How many times do you try to get a live representative or how many times do you have to repeat yourself to the automated attendant? How often do you feel caught in a never-ending maze of choices before you’re on the right path only to have the call dropped during transfer? This is contact center 1.0 and it’s unfortunately the norm when it comes to customer service. That’s all about to change.

I recently partnered with RingCentral to study the state and future of contact centers and the results were eye-opening. If you work in customer experience (CX), customer service or support, IT, digital transformation, or any effort that touches the customer, please compare where you are to other companies facing similar challenges and opportunities.

Contact Center 1.0: The time has come to recognize contact centers as investments and not cost centers

Any time you have to contact a company, it’s like going back in time. Contact centers as we know them today were designed and deployed at scale in the 1960s,1 and the management models, governance models, and standards that defined them are still alive and well today. We call this Contact Center 1.0. And, this dated foundation for customer engagement in sales, service, and support for more than 60 years is in serious need of modernization and reinvention.

While companies might set out to become more customer-centric, technology, processes and policies are not scaling or delivering experiences that customers value. They are scaling dated business practices and standards that are not in alignment with modern experiences customers are learning to expect. Instead, when it comes to traditional companies, many customers are forced to compromise.

In a world where experience innovation is a competitive advantage, Contact Center 1.0 is the Achilles Heel of customer experience.

Exceptional customer service is not only a rarity, it’s a standout experience. As disruptive technologies such as cloud, real-time collaboration platforms, artificial intelligence (AI), conversational commerce, et al., become foundational, the opportunity to reimagine customer service is upon us. This sets the stage for “Contact Center 2.0,” and it takes vision and architecture to implement and scale new technologies, operational agility AND new standards for customer experience.

Contact centers as we know them today were designed and deployed at scale in the 1960s

Contact Center 2.0: The rise of the collaborative contact center

Contact Center 2.0 represents a shift from on-premise technologies, work siloes, limited and/or outmoded customer channels and distributed knowledge to cloud-based, collaborative, omnichannel, and intelligent customer engagement. More so, modernizing the contact center delivers an integrated approach to unified communications that brings business experts and contact center agents together to deliver modern, real-time customer experiences.

When you study customer’s and the experiences they value and seek, it serves as a mandate, and a blueprint, to modernize customer engagement. And, it’s more important than ever for companies.

  1. Cloud, collaboration, AI, etc., help to deliver exceptional experiences and establishes a competitive advantage by aligning teams and experts to engage customers in familiar and preferred channels in real-time.
  2. Exceptional experiences expose customers to evolving standards of excellence to which everyone is benchmarked.
  3. Enterprise and consumer technologies are creating unprecedented opportunities for experience innovation.

Connecting the dots between 1.0 and 2.0

When it comes to customer engagement and service, we found that strategic digital transformation is serving as the underlying evolution from 1.0 to 2.0. But there’s still so much work to do.

In our research with RingCentral, we set out to understand the challenges and opportunities facing customers as they evaluate contact center technologies and strategies. While we know transformation and modernization are difficult, we were surprised to learn that only one-third of contact centers are undergoing digital transformation. We also found that a majority of businesses (62%) still depend on premise-based technology for customer engagement.

If customer experience represents opportunities to earn competitive advantages, there’s much work to be done. We learned that the number one area where contact centers are struggling is improving and modernizing customer experiences. Ranked third is improving customer satisfaction ratings. Among the many challenges standing in the way of improving CX is no surprise. Costs also represent a top challenge, which ranked 2nd in our research.

But, among the more progressive organizations, digital transformation is prioritizing the shift to cloud-based technologies.Why? Cloud technologies upgrade customer engagement via a centralized (and familiar) platform for agents and customers to connect anywhere, anytime. Cloud computing also maximizes the consumerization and distribution of web-enabled devices, allowing customers and contact center representatives to communicate, collaborate and connect more effectively.

Those companies that are digitally transforming contact centers are already seeing notable benefits and ROI in the following areas:

  1. Cost savings
  2. Time savings
  3. Improved customer service levels
  4. Increased agent productivity
  5. Better communication between agents and the rest of the company

Customer experience is the next competitive advantage and a big opportunity for businesses to grow and succeed by helping customers feel like they matter, and they’re valued. Believe it or not, digital transformation in of itself, isn’t the sole provider for customer experience. While it’s a driver, customer experience is really about how you make someone feel in important moments that define the brand relationship. Digital transformation is driven by that vision and commitment and the technology you invest in to bring those improved experiences to life today and tomorrow. This is the foundation for Contact Center 2.0.

Please download our report to help you plan your next steps and learn how digital transformation is making contact centers unified, collaborative, and intelligent, ” Contact Center 2.0: The Rise of Collaborative Contact Centers.”

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at , the digital analyst group at . He’s also a world-renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Follow him on , and . Invite him to at your next event.


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