Customer Engagement has changed and the Contact Centre must evolve to keep up

by Patrick Kolencherry, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Twilio Flex

Meeting customer expectations is vital to the success of any modern business. Today, a core part of these expectations center around effective communications. Much in the way you would expect smooth interactions when speaking with your friends and family via Facebook Messenger, email or telephone, the modern consumer is demanding seamless communications when they have conversations with businesses. For many businesses, the contact centre is the heart of how they communicate with their customers. As such, it plays an essential role in helping companies to meet these expectations. Yet, there is currently a disconnect – research by Twilio has revealed that while 94% of businesses believe their customers are satisfied with the responsiveness of their communications, 96% of consumers disagreed. Businesses are faced with the important challenge of improving this trend if they want to succeed.

Communication is king

Faced with the potential costs of ‘re-structuring’ their contact centre, businesses may be tempted to question just how much importance consumers place on communications. Surely the product is king? Will failure to deploy an adequate contact centre solution really cost businesses that much? Twilio’s research certainly suggests so. In fact, while around 80% of consumers say that a fast response will make for a positive customer experience, 97% went as far as to claim they’re more likely to spend more money with businesses who respond to them quickly. Clearly customers today are placing high emphasis on how business communicate with them.

And yet, over 40% of UK customers rate the communication experiences they have  with businesses as fair to terrible.

The new rules of engagement

Customers are no longer willing to settle for anything less than instant, personalised communications. The champions of the on-demand economy (such as Uber, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit) have changed the way consumers engage with businesses and, subsequently, have altered the standards of service by which they now measure all their business interactions. Now, whether it is purchasing clothes and food or arranging accommodation and transport, it is vital for any successful business to be able  to reach their customers with the right message, at the right time, and via the right channel.

The rules of engagement have changed — consumers are demanding the sort of contextualised communications outlined above. Many innovative companies are beginning to embrace these new rules and are looking to their own developers to help them find innovative new ways to effectively communicate with their customers to serve their ever-changing needs.

Take 1-800Flowers.com or Macy’s as examples. Today, both companies are giving their customers the ability to text back-and-forth directly with agents – so they can discuss and make changes to new and existing orders. Or Dixons Carphone, who introduced a new customer service button that, once pressed, will automatically instigate a call-back from customer service. Perhaps just as crucially, Dixons Carphone has ensured that call agents have all vital information at hand instantly – that way, whenever they call a customer, they already know who the customer is, what product they have used, and when and why they have reached out in the past.

Traditional means of communication alone, like a simple support phone call or email, no longer suffice — especially if these channels are not put into context and are siloed from each other.

Giving control back

The companies who are successful today are the ones who appreciate this dynamic and understand that one size no longer fits all when it comes to the contact centre. Building a bespoke solution from the ground up is key. By empowering their developers to create solutions specifically tailored to the needs of their customers this, companies can hope to achieve the sort of agility necessary to iterate according to their customers’ needs and provide them with personalised communications on their preferred channel.

The cloud has made such a solution possible and easily attainable, providing businesses like ING Bank and Marks and Spencer the flexibility they require to deliver a great customer experience. By giving complete control back to businesses to programmatically customise every aspect of the contact centre experience, companies can implement the sort of contextualised omnichannel experiences consumers crave.

Failure to achieve this is simple: it is the difference between a customer returning or taking their business elsewhere.

Love your developers

Today, the contact centre is the bedrock upon which successful businesses can hope to both maintain and improve their relationships with customers. Unlike traditional hardware-heavy centres, an application platform made up of cloud-based APIs is capable of providing the sort of solution that is designed with future change in mind. Whether it is integrating third party applications or supporting new channels as they emerge, contact centre platforms built in the cloud provide the flexibility necessary to disrupt traditional infrastructure services for communications. With consumer expectations evolving at such an accelerated pace today, they’ve become the key to the future of the contact centre space.