The growth of self-service channels, like communities and chatbots, is offloading routine customer issues and subsequently impacting the skills and technologies needed for service agents to solve more complex customer cases, whether at their desks or in the field. As we found in our 8th annual The State of Salesforce report, 85% of agents feel that their job is more strategic than it was two years ago, and 95% report that their organization perceives them as customer advocates. Today, rising customer expectations require a more responsive and strategic contact center that can also foster brand differentiation and customer loyalty.
The contact center is rapidly evolving from discrete, one-off customer interactions using multiple but siloed communications channels to a more integrated view of customer activities and workflows. A focus on delivering context-aware, omnichannel, and proactive service is shaping the evolution of contact centers into customer engagement centers (CECs), where tight integrations spanning across CRM and social media channels give a "single view of the customer" across all touchpoints.. The key to delivering a unified experience across all channels is to ensure that data from other departments is actionable by service agents. To provide scalable, omnichannel customer service, organizations are focusing on three key capabilities:
Knowledge management is the foundation for any successful omnichannel service strategy. The State of Salesforce 2020 report highlights the fact that 90% of the best customer service agents agree knowledge is critical for omnichannel support, and 84% of contact centers manage four or more channels. In practice, effective knowledge management requires resourcing and governance, not only to implement but to regularly maintain and update knowledge entries.
Knowledge also needs to be optimized for searchability, meaning indexed to correspond to the keywords agents use to search for a particular topic. Metrics should be put in place to measure whether your knowledge management system helps or hinders agents in live interactions with customers and whether customers can easily find the answers they’re looking for through self-service portals. Given the amount of upkeep and optimization needed to leverage a knowledge base properly, traditional knowledge management is becoming obsolete—and the burden of managing knowledge is shifting to automation and AI.
New digital business models and the advancement of AI are changing how organizations serve and engage their customers through the contact center. By 2025, customer service organizations that embed AI in their multichannel customer engagement platform will elevate operational efficiency by 25%. Already, Machine Learning (ML) and other forms of AI are finding a way into many customer and employee-facing applications, such as:
Using AI across multiple customer service channels allows contact centers to gain better insights, increase self-service, and improve productivity. However, before your company can benefit from using AI, it first needs to be ready for it. Internal adoption efforts should focus on organizational readiness, data preparation, and cross-channel transparency.
The introduction of Field Service Lightning (FSL) by Salesforce is a meaningful development in providing employees with a purpose-built mobile solution that does more than replicate a desktop experience on a mobile device. In the face of rising competition and increasing customer expectations, FSL will enable better management of resources and process optimization to deliver service at the right time and place. And, according to The State of Salesforce 2020 report, 67% of FSL users proactively understand customer issues before an appointment.
FSL is just a part of the full service transformation. The best customer service departments connect business practices horizontally––field service, service, sales, and marketing––as well as vertically into the organization's back-end systems. Integration with enterprise asset and resource management systems drive efficiencies and derive business and operational insights to create additional business value. By enabling each part of the service organization to seamlessly extend customer lifecycle engagement and direct feedback into the marketing and sales engine, companies are taking the next step in becoming the skilled and trusted advisors customers want.
Learn more about current trends in customer-centric contact centers and how the best companies are using Salesforce, download your copy of The State of Salesforce 2020 report.
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