At this year’s Austin Contact Center Alliance’s Fall Symposium, more than 300 industry leaders and solutions providers discussed what’s working, what’s not and what’s next for their contact centers. Across the conference’s programming, improving customer experience was the underlining—and headlining—focus. And here’s the bottom line: from agent recruitment and retention to operational efficiencies, customer experience is always part of the equation. Fortunately, the right technology can go a long way in helping to improve it.

During the symposium’s technology panel, discussion kicked off with the question: How is technology bringing value to your contact centers while improving the customer experience? This is what the contact center leaders and technology experts shared:

Adopt Customer-First, Omnichannel Strategies

Whether baby boomers, Gen X or Gen Z, contact centers must understand how their customers want to interact with them. Communication preferences vary widely, and that can make creating consistently good experiences, across demographics, a major challenge.

Once you know who your customers are and their preferences, the next step is to determine which channels make the most business sense for your organization. Regardless of channel, the key to success, according to both the panelists and audience, is the adoption of a true omnichannel strategy to manage them.

Contact center leaders shared that their customers express frustration over having to repeat themselves to agents when they have already provided the information in emails or chats. They said this poor experience is negatively affecting overall satisfaction survey data.

Reducing these frustrations requires technology that gives customers a seamless experience across channels by equipping agents with the necessary information to easily understand issues through an historical view of all omnichannel customer communications, resulting in quicker resolution.

Beyond omnichannel, the question of how artificial intelligence (AI) can help was addressed. While no one in the room has adopted it yet, all agreed AI is a promising tool to improve customer experience while controlling costs. But to get AI right, you must ensure your tools are pulling then serving up the right data and that the data can be shared across the different systems critical to your contact center.

The panel’s technology experts gave examples of how AI,  through machine learning, can enhance self-service channels and provide continuity and context when passing customers to agents for a seamless transfer and positive experience.

 Eliminate Silos When Choosing Contact Center Technology Solutions

Contact centers are in a state of flux when it comes to the cloud. This group was no exception; about half indicated they were using on-premises solutions, and half were either using or in the process of migrating to the cloud.

Despite growing adoption, many contact center leaders are moving forward cautiously as they work through risk versus benefit of the cloud.

The panelists addressed the importance of considering the needs, concerns and perspectives of both the contact center’s technology and business teams—from initial search to final selection of technology— and including leaders from both on the selection committee. They emphasized that any technology implementation will affect all stakeholders—from IT to agents to customers—and concerns should be brought to prospective vendors early in the buying process. Even with the ultimate benefits of a new solution, change management is essential to successful implementation.

Participants agreed, when all stakeholders are included in the process, there are fewer bumps and surprises, in areas such as security, operations and, ultimately, customer experience.

The Right Contact Center Technology + The Right Contact Center Technology Partner = Success

Emerging technology is certainly available to address the biggest customer experience challenges facing contact centers. But identifying the right solution for your contact center takes a technology partner invested in understanding your business.

That was clear as the group shared their everyday challenges—from ensuring security and regulatory compliance to recruitment, training and retention to choosing whether a blended-agent model is the right strategy to improve customer experience.

Technology that delivers value to brands, customers and employees is about more than just buying technology benefits. It takes choosing a partner committed to understanding and solving your problems long-term. Ensure you’re getting an experienced team that will work with you through implementation, then provide you with a customer success manager to help you every day to get the most out of what you buy.

If you’re ready to improve your customer experience through a technology solution that meets all your contact center’s needs, we’d love to talk.