Feb 23 2023

Why Customer Experience Technology Is Vital to Modern Digital Work Environments

Cloud-based contact centers, integrated with customer relationship management, provide a unified view of the customer journey to agents, wherever they work.

As digital work trends have evolved since 2020, the technology that customer support professionals rely on has evolved as well, becoming more crucial than ever as companies strive to satisfy their buyers.

The contact center in general is sometimes dismissed as a “cost center,” according to Christina McAllister, senior analyst at Forrester.

"It’s not necessarily thought of as an asset that drives customer experience, but our research at Forrester shows that customer service is actually one of the most impactful drivers of customer experience quality,” McAllister says.

Contact center solutions and customer relationship management software are important tools that help drive resolutions for customers.

Many of these tools reside in the cloud, McAllister notes: “A lot of outsourcers and direct enterprises moved their agents home, and to do that, you need to have a cloud solution.”

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The Power of Cloud-based Contact Center Combined with CRM

The old paradigm for a contact center was a windowless room staffed by agents  operating phones on their desks. Modern contact centers are supported by cloud-based technology that allows agents to work anywhere.

“For a long time, the contact and call center felt very physical,” says Jono Luk, vice president of product management for Webex by Cisco. “You had call center spaces. I think in this new digital world, the reality is that everyone can interact with a customer.”

Customer relationship management software, meanwhile, acts as a “single source of truth” that lets customer service representatives understand what products customers use and what the revenue implications are, says Mike Stowe, senior director of developer marketing at RingCentral.

By combining a cloud-based contact center and a CRM, businesses get a 360-degree view of the customer journey, says Gayathri Krishnamurthy, associate vice president of product marketing at RingCentral.

“You’re bringing the two systems together, where one has the data power of customer insights, with details across channels and across multiple departments, and the other one is all about engagement,” Krishnamurthy says.

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Updating the Cloud-Based Contact Center with Machine Learning

Upgrading contact-center technology will be crucial for workers to improve the customer experience.

“If your agent tools are super legacy, super old, super difficult to use, they don't have connections to the data that are required for them to help the customer effectively,” McAllister says. “That’s going to be true for a lot of the on-premises systems.”

Artificial intelligence is increasingly being built into contact center tech, automatically pulling data from CRMs to provide real-time assistance to agents, McAllister notes. These AI tools listen in to agent conversations and incorporate rules-based triggers to help them support customers. The solutions include checklists to ensure that customer service agents satisfy criteria such as legal compliance, according to McAllister.

DISCOVER: How XCaaS platforms enhance the experience of agents and customers.

“There’s a lot of focus on scripting guidance and adherence to make sure the agent is on track,” McAllister says.

With many agents navigating through several systems at a time, supporting customers becomes difficult. To help solve this problem, customer service agents use robotic process automation functionality in CRM software to update customer information such as addresses across multiple systems, McAllister says.

AI lets customer service reps sort through notes from customer interactions to decide what needs to be addressed. The AI-driven features of a cloud-based contact center could assign the most appropriate agent to a call based on the case history in the CRM, says Krishnamurthy.

Jono Luk
When you bring that data together, you get that next level of understanding. You can better understand your customer so that you can target your action more effectively.”

Jono Luk Vice President of Product Management, Webex by Cisco

How CRM and Cloud-Based Contact Centers Work Together

CRM systems and cloud-based contacts can often be integrated, even when they’re developed by different technology providers. For example, Cisco’s Webex Contact Center can pull data on a customer’s journey, such as how long the individual has been a customer and what products were purchased previously, from many CRM solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, Luk says.

“When you bring that data together, you get that next level of understanding,” Luk says. “You can better understand your customer so that you can target your action more effectively.”

While working in the cloud, a contact center agent would use a CRM to pull up customer information accessible through an application program interface or widget. Users also could be working primarily in a CRM, then pull in data from the cloud-based contact center, McAllister says.

Modern cloud-based contact centers also have “screen pops” in which customer data displays from the CRM, according to Krishnamurthy.

When a customer calls in, a contact center recognizes the phone number and automatically pulls up the customer’s record from the CRM for the agent.

LEARN MORE: How collaboration tech is changing the contact center.

Contact center applications automatically route the call to the best agent to handle that particular customer’s purchase history. Contact sensors provide “agent answers” with actionable customer data for the agent, Luk says. For example, if a customer calls within 24 to 36 hours of purchasing a phone, a wireless carrier could know the call is about the purchase even before the customer is connected.

Having the CRM and cloud-based contact center connected reduces the amount of “discovery” each time a customer calls in for help, so the agents don’t have to start from scratch. The idea is to make the job as seamless as possible, McAllister says.

The integration between CRM applications and cloud-based contact centers provides a unified experience in which the CRM can be automatically updated, Stowe says.

“I think that's going to be a big change because it’s going to allow for more efficient responses,” Stowe says. “Agents can spend more time addressing questions and less time doing busy work.”

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