Veronica French
Veronica French
Updated: May 14, 2021

5 “Top of Minds” for Customer Service Leaders in 2021

5 “Top of Minds” for Customer Service Leaders in 2021

At Replicant, we believe in taking a fresh approach to connecting with our prospects and customers, which is why we regularly host digital events to inspire thought-provoking conversations.

Our goal is to bring together CX leaders and provide them with a forum to share ideas through experiential and interactive environments. This is, after all, the direction customer service is moving towards: delivering personal, high-touch, and connected customer experiences. 

On January 21st, 2021, we hosted a Virtual Sparkling Wine Tasting CX Panel where we were joined by influential leaders in the customer service and contact center space from companies like ADP, AAA, The General, Pizza Pizza and Wells Fargo. While enjoying a seasonal selection of boutique sparkling wine from Napa Valley’s Carboniste, we opened up the discussion with questions that got our guests thinking about the next wave of CX trends in 2021 and beyond – everything from inspiring our best work in hybrid working environments, to digital transformation, to AI & automation. 

We wanted to share some of the top themes and key takeaways that came away from our discussion with CX leaders: 

Call center agents are thriving in flexible work environments

No one had a template for what 2020 had in store; instead, business leaders had to react fast and put employee safety first. Despite the bumps along the way, some of our contact center leaders were delightfully surprised to find that remote work for their call center agents had unplanned upsides. They reported seeing increased agent productivity, declining turnover, and higher satisfaction when it came to both saving time and money on things like daily commutes. 

That said, there have been some setbacks that contact center leaders are working through – agents need quiet working environments with a strong internet connection and the right equipment. Not every agent was set-up to work remotely, successfully which required greater attention from contact center leaders. That said, contact center leaders found that when they showed up for their agents and put the right programs in place, their agents in turn showed up for them. 

“A flexible work environment for our call center employees was really attractive for them. Not just for full-time employees, but also part-time and seasonal employees, and giving our agents the opportunity to decide which shifts they wanted to work.”

Connected customer experiences are the way forward 

Customer expectations and standards are only becoming ever more demanding. Disjointed systems, departments and data not only impact operational efficiency, but frustrate customers with disconnected experiences. Technologies and processes that help connect the customer journey and reduce friction will become not just important, but critical for customer retention and “stickiness”. Having a fully integrated customer relationship management system and a contact center surfaced as key to creating more holistic customer service experiences.

Customer service should be proactive, not reactive 

Contact center leaders emphasized that soon, proactively resolving customer service or support issues, will not be a trend but a necessity. Traditional customer service has been very reactive whereby agents are incentivized to resolve customer issues fast and under an SLA. 

Thanks to AI and machine learning, automation technologies are empowering call center agents to resolve customer issues proactively by already identifying a customer’s problem when they call in, or through outbound tactics like notifying customers ahead of time that an issue has been identified, like a delayed order. When implemented correctly, AI & automation are perhaps the biggest gateway to unlocking proactive customer service, which is something we are very excited to be working on at Replicant.  

Automation is a competitive advantage

The digital transformation journey for enterprises has been a work in progress for many years, and automation has been at the forefront of this transformation. Business leaders are looking to new technologies that can help automate repetitive and redundant business processes to increase operational efficiencies and turn their contact centers into centers of excellence. 

Moreover, the digital transformation journey is quickly turning into a race – with customer service differentiating one company from the next – competitors that innovate and adopt the latest technologies to transform CX, the fastest, are quickly gaining market share. Leveraging automation to resolve Tier-1 customer service issues over the phone through voice AI is one such technology that CX leaders are relying on to deliver faster and better customer experiences to outperform the competition. 

“If you look at organizations doing high volume transactional outbound calls, like reminders or follow ups, those are calls that are very simple in nature where AI, machine learning or conversational interfaces can really be helpful to drive down costs.”

High touch and personalized experiences are in demand

With the advent of high-tech that has enabled contact centers to automate customer service processes, the demand for more personalized and human connections is also increasing. 

Call centers that have automated a fraction of their inbound customer service calls through voice AI have noted that call center agents have more opportunities to focus exclusively on delivering high-touch customer experiences with remaining callers, as a result. 

When Tier-1 customer service calls that can easily be resolved by AI are filtered out from phone calls fielded by agents, agents report feeling more empowered and motivated to provide personalized customer service to resolve complex issues that rely on their empathy and problem-solving skills. This partnership between AI and human collaboration is leading to more productive and satisfied agents as agents are able to do more of what they do best. 

Be sure to join our upcoming experiential events to get insights into how innovative CX leaders are disrupting the customer service space. And don’t forget to join our Virtual Chocolate Tasting & CX Panel on February 11th, 2021 to continue the conversation with like-minded customer service leaders. We cannot wait to have you there!

virtual chocolate tasting and cx panel