[Editor’s note: Below is a guest blog from VP and Service Director of Nemertes Research, Irwin Lazar. To dive into the topic more, check out Irwin’s full whitepaper entitled, “Transforming from Contact Center to Digital Engagement.”]

By Irwin Lazar, VP and Service Director, Nemertes Research

Digital transformation is driving rapid change in how organizations interact and with their customers. The driving goal of customer-facing digital transformation is to provide new interaction methods, and to optimize those interactions to improve customer satisfaction, generate new revenue, and/or enhance relationships.

To support digital transformation, contact center operators and customer engagement leaders must be at the forefront of this change, evolving their platforms, optimizing interactions, and applying new means of measuring interaction results.

Contact centers must become digital engagement hubs. They must recognize customers who reach out via an ever-expanding variety of channels; from traditional voice to social messaging like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, to Internet-connected devices. They must apply analytics to determine the likely nature of the interaction and to route the interaction to internal resources best equipped to address customer need or opportunity. And, customer engagement leaders must develop new means to measure success, shifting from call center-centric measurements like wait times, dropped calls, and first-call resolution to instead focus on metrics that allow for gauging the impact of a collective set of engagements on overall customer satisfaction.

Examples include transactional netpromoter score to identify how a specific engagement impacted the customer’s willingness to recommend the product or service, customer effort score to measure the effort a customer expended to address an issue, and channel abandonment, measuring the effectiveness of different channels.

Evolving the contact center requires enabling a true omnichannel customer journey capability that enables agents to see the pathways that a customer has taken to reach them, to identify the best means of addressing the customer’s concern based on past interactions, knowledge about the customers personal situation, or other relevant means of enabling the agent to provide targeted assistance without having to go through the extensive practice of manually obtaining information like name, phone, account number, reason for call, etc.

Unfortunately most organizations still view the contact center as a call center, supporting only voice and email. Fewer than half of organizations studied by Nemertes Research support web chat, click-to-call via websites, or customer interaction directly through a mobile application or via social messaging. Without these emerging channels, companies are flying blind when a customer contacts them, unable to optimize the customer experience, leading to longer processing times, more chances for things to go wrong, and unhappy customers.

Often the lack of omnichannel capabilities is due to constraints created by legacy platforms, and the lack of capital budgets to add new capabilities. As a result, nearly half of organizations are using or evaluating cloud-based customer engagement platforms to increase agility, roll out new capabilities, and reduce capital expenditures. Cloud-based customer engagement platforms enable organizations to rapidly increase the speed at which they can support emerging channels, and access analytics, bots, machine learning, and customizable APIs necessary to support the goals of their digital transformation.

Those responsible for customer engagement should focus on becoming partners to their organization’s digital transformation initiatives. They should plan for a future in which customer engagement spans across multiple channels, using analytics and automation to improve and expand customer interaction, and they should evaluate cloud services as a means to increase agility while minimizing capital expense.

Get the full Nemertes Research whitepaper, Transforming from Contact Center to Digital Engagement.