July 15, 2022

Article
4 min

Put Customers First in Customer Engagement

Communication tech can make you a disrupter, don’t forget the human element.

Scott Petersen

Image of a woman in a call center in front of computer and talking into headset.

With new channels of communication available, yesterday’s contact centers have evolved into customer engagement centers that manage how companies interface with their customers. Those channels include social media presence, social media influencers, customer journey, multi-channel, omni-channel and mega-channel.  

When companies embrace these technologies and migrate their business to the cloud, they’re doing so to avoid falling prey to a disrupter who can smell if you’re doing things the same old way, just like a shark smells blood in the water. If you want to be the disrupter you need to embrace the technology, but the secret is remembering your customers also crave a human element.

The cloud offers customization

So, what does the cloud give a company that their current system may not?  As the Technical Architect in Services Research and Development, this is the question asked most by the customers I talk to daily.  

The answer is simple: The cloud allows a customer to add services as disrupters in the market bring them to bear. The way we do business has evolved into channels, and not every channel is accessible in one solution. 

So, as we look at how we do business, maybe company A has a solution for my problem, and I can obtain that from the cloud using restful APIs. Now I can easily layer in solutions from other vendors because I’m no longer locked into a single vendor waiting for its roadmap to catch up to my business.

I look at it this way, I ditched cable to go to streaming TV. My streaming service doesn’t have all the channels I like to watch, but I can add in other streaming services allowing me to create a service customized to me. 

If I apply this logic to business, I might have cloud vendor A for my main service and then layer in subscriptions from cloud vendors B and C to create a perfect solution for my customers. I can create a solution that is revolutionary for me and my customers, and I become the disrupter in my space.

Tying it all together

Customer engagement centers have now become the hub of a company’s brand management. It’s the primary interface with customers. No matter the channel, customers expect to communicate the way they want, and their sentiment is going to be made on how well those communications go.  

Like technology, our lives are moving fast. We don’t have time to sit on a phone for an hour waiting for an agent. We want to fix issues, find solutions or solve a problem and move on.  

Just the other day, I put a new radio in my 16-year-old son’s car. Well, the technology failed and I needed to find out how to fix the issue. I went to the company’s website, and they had a live chat section. I was within the hours that the services were supposed to be operational. 

Supposed to is key phrase.

When clicking on the chat link, I received a message that there weren’t any agents available online and an email box popped up for me to fill out my problem. I did and they responded back with a process for me to do a system upgrade. I did that to no avail. It was still broken, so I went to the same chat link and there still weren’t any agents online. 

Three days of exchanging emails has me looking for a new solution. Will I tell anyone to buy this company’s product, which was very much a disrupter technology-wise? No.  

New channels for communication are nothing if we don’t apply our business logic on how we have done things in the past and staff those channels properly. We are doing more harm than good. There are many options out there today and customers can easily move away if we don’t meet their needs.

What’s this have to do with being a disrupter?

Disrupters leapfrog everybody by coming into the market and changing the process. Look back at what ridesharing companies did to the transportation industry or what online mortgage and banking systems did for the financial industry. They’ve disrupted vital and fruitful business segments. How did they do this? Technology, mostly. 

The cloud can give any business the opportunity to disrupt from a technology perspective. But if you want to truly be a disrupter you cannot remove the human aspect. Companies need to have agents answering those digital channels to give customers the support they need.  The cloud gives us the technological tools to interface, but human capital gives us the ability to answer the questions that will arise.  

A true disrupter will be the company that can adapt as technology advances without underestimating how the human brain needs to interface from the human perspective.

Story by Scott Petersen, a Contact Center Technical Architect for CDW’s Services Research and Development team. Scott has experience in data center, contact center, wide area network and switching technologies. He is a graduate of the Lean Sigma Six Greenbelt program, as well as an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, Amazon Connect, Webex Contact Center Expert, Webex Experience Manager, Five9 Certified, Inference IVA Certified, and Nice inContact(RingCentral) certified.