In an era when improved customer experience is so critical to so many businesses, the market for enabling technologies is growing rapidly. The IDC forecast for customer experience management software estimates that the size of the market will reach an astounding $205 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.6%.
Beyond technology opportunities focused on the customer, industries as varied as financial services, travel and transportation, retail, and so forth are looking to isolate and improve employee experiences to better connect with customers. Companies that embrace the linkage between employee experience (EX) and customer service (CX), brand value, and improved competitive positioning have taken critical steps toward digital transformation (DX). In short: CX + EX = DX. This is the future of customer service and the future of work. This IDC Perspective explores the dynamics of how customer service is evolving at the intersection of customer experience and employee experience.
The Future of Customer Experience
We’ve all personally experienced a remarkable shift from the bad old days of long wait times on hold to resolve customer issues, make a purchase, or make an appointment to tools enabling self-service for fast resolution. With the pervasive adoption of cell phones and web chat, we can engage in transactions or communication that would previously have taken minutes in mere seconds. Whether we do mobile or online travel, shopping, banking, or medical care, digital transformation is quickly shifting when and how contact center employees engage with customers. That said, we’ve also all no doubt experienced repeatedly shouting “representative, representative” into the phone when these things don’t work.
Predictions from IDC’s Customer Experience team around customer experience reveal that organizations are turning to various technologies to remove the friction in customer interactions and improve the overall experience. In particular:
- By 2022, 75% of enterprises will embed artificial intelligence (AI) into customer-facing technologies and processes using AI-based software to discover operational and experiential insights to guide innovation.
- By 2023, 45% of Global 2000 B2B/B2C enterprises will exploit smart personalization for context-based customer engagement, utilizing AI, big data, and conversational computing.
- By 2025, 60% of leading consumer brands and retailers will enhance customer engagements using emotion detection and management to influence purchasing.
The Digital Transformation of the Contact Center:Meeting Customer Demands
The technology of the contact center is in its own transformation. It’s an area that is in critical need of modernization. The modern contact center evolved from single-channel call centers into multichannel contact centers. However, customer expectations have quickly outpaced organizations’ abilities to respond with a technology environment to meet these expectations. For many organizations, the complex on-premises environments that grew through organic evolution present a barrier to operating in a world where systems must speak to each other and readily share data. The evolution to cloudbased systems is just one of the elements on the table. Various technologies that IDC identifies as the 3rd Platform innovation accelerators all have a role to play in the enablement of the requirements of the contact center to meet the demands of the customer.
The list of customer requirements is long and demanding and fraught with internal issues in regard to privacy and compliance. Customers are used to and demand:
- Know who I am and protect my identity
- Help me anywhere, anytime
- Know my history of engagement
- Give me immediate support
- Document the resolution or progress
- Offer me compelling opportunities and offers
Contact centers have much at their disposal to address these requirements through evolutions in technology:
- Secure omni-channel access
- Cloud-based scaling
- Cross-channel integration
- Data analytics
- Dynamic processing
- AI and machine learning (ML)
- Robotic process automation (RPA)
- AI-based search and routing
- Chatbots — conversational AI
Having access to these technologies and applying them intelligently can reap many benefits. However, for many organizations, the individual technologies have been implemented for specific pain points and not holistically or with the employees specifically in mind