Pandemic Driving Shifting Customer Need for Touchless, Seamless Omnichannel Customer Service Experiences [Feature]

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The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in many shifts, changes and accelerated trends that have altered our contemporary ways of doing things. It’s resulted in a significant spike in e-commerce activity, propelling the evolution of merchant omnichannel strategies and the digitization of the retail environment. This proliferation is challenging most businesses, requiring them to develop and enhance digital means by which to better communicate with and serve their customers. In fact, according to Marshall Berkin, Vice-President, Industry Solutions at TELUS, they are improvements that will be critical in the success of any organization going forward.

“More than ever, consumers are looking for an easy, touchless and seamless service experience to complement their changing shopping habits,” he says. “And for customer service teams dealing with legacy contact solutions, they are challenged by the massive increase in calls, chats and message volumes. Digital comfortability is increasing and online shopping behaviours are here to stay, it’s no longer about digitizing your business, but how to create a digital business. This needs to be an organization’s priority for brand appeal and long-term success.”

Enhanced customer engagement

Berkin recognizes the challenges that are inherent in the task at hand, but also points out that undergoing upgrades to traditional contact centres could serve as the catalyst in helping businesses transform the customer service experience they provide while heightening the level and quality of engagement with their brands. 

“Having a customer-first mindset and providing great customer service is at the heart of growing any business,” he asserts. “And this is the thesis around an omnichannel approach to upgrading the traditional contact centre. At its core, omnichannel customer service is all about interacting with customers through a unified experience across all channels. The advantages can be seen through the lens of the customer, the employee and the business. In short, an upgraded contact centre can help increase customer satisfaction through smoother interactions, create a greater level of efficiency and effectiveness for communications, and optimize the workforce, enabling greater employee productivity and engagement.”

Contact centre of the future

In order to help retailers and other businesses make these improvements, TELUS has developed and introduced its TELUS Business Connect Contact Centre in partnership with RingCentral. This powerful customer interaction management suite enables businesses to increase customer satisfaction while saving significant expenses through increased agent efficiency. It’s a system that provides full omnichannel capabilities and a means for customers to reach out to companies on their channel of choice, and empowering businesses with the tools to ensure personalized and efficient service. 

Berkin further describes the benefits of the TELUS Business Connect Contact Centre as holistic in nature, saying that it is an investment in the future of retail with the use of data integration to understand the customer and drive meaningful business outcomes.

“As companies go digital, the future ‘contact centres’ become a massive source of valuable data to help businesses truly understand their customers,” he points out. “Everything about the TELUS Business Connect Contact Centre is solutions driven. At TELUS, we have understood that different businesses are in different stages of their transformation. We’re not just bringing products and services to the table. We take the time to truly understand their vision and how their systems and applications work and inter-operate as part of that larger technology ecosystem; and provide solutions based on data to fit where they want to be today and where they may be headed tomorrow.”

By leveraging the expertise of an experienced partner like TELUS, the implementation and rollout of technology improvements don’t need to be daunting and can be made considerably easier with a single vendor relationship. 

“TELUS also provides support in the migration process as an extension of your IT team and can help you design your full IT strategy. This enables companies to focus on running their operations and not having to worry about the day-to-day complexities. And, because different businesses have differing technology requirements, the advantage of our managed services model at TELUS is the predictability and flexibility of costs to adapt to your company’s financial needs.”

Connectivity and increased flexibility

From a technical perspective, because the TELUS Business Connect Contact Centre leverages the power of application programming interface (API) technology, all platforms are connected in a single landscape, allowing greater agent and supervisor efficiency and aiding with improved customer relationships. In addition, because all communications and interactions are managed from a single dashboard, supervisor and agent activities are more closely linked, creating efficient infrastructure for rapid communication and reporting. What’s more, because the TELUS management suite provides real-time data and analytics, businesses are armed with the insights and means to enable better decision-making and more personalized engagement, helping them stand apart from competitors.

Beyond the obvious advantages of upgrading the traditional contact centre, the fact that TELUS’ solution and services are cloud-based add another layer of value and purpose onto its offering. It allows businesses the power to more easily provide the right information to their customers at the right time, using their preferred vehicle of communication. However, perhaps the greatest benefit of a cloud-based communication solution, says Berkin, is its far-reaching accessibility, which provides flexibility to companies and their operations. 

“The true value of a cloud-based solution is the fact that agents can do their work from anywhere,” he says. “Because of the ‘plug in anywhere’ functionality of the systems, as long as agents have a device that has been authorized for work, they can connect over the internet and log into their calling portal from anywhere. This enables access to a global talent pool and their ability to incent highly skilled agents who want to work from home. In addition, the cloud tools also provide supervisors with the means to effectively manage schedules and the performance of agents.”

Transforming the experience

Though cloud-based solutions have been in the market and supporting business needs for some time, it seems that it’s real potential is only now beginning to be leveraged to its fullest. Today, they are critical in enabling retailers to bridge the gaps between the physical and online world toward the creation of a truly seamless omnichannel experience. They are helping businesses meet the demands associated with accelerated online consumer activity while satisfying their evolving preferences and digital behaviour. And, according to Berkin, it is digital behaviour, and a need to properly support it, that is only likely to intensify going forward.

“Digital transformation isn’t a trend or a buzz phrase. It’s here to stay and we are seeing changes in shopping behaviours as a result. Consumers and retailers are beginning to look beyond the pandemic, adhering to trends that have emerged or strengthened. They’re realizing that retail will become predominantly digital with brick-and-mortar stores becoming limited with smaller footprints. And there’s also a shift in focusing on direct-to-consumer micro storefronts with ecommerce distribution. Combining all of this with the potential of artificial intelligence, Big Data and continuously self-service technologies, the sky is truly the limit with respect to the possibilities to enhance customer experience and take engagement to the next level. Through the capabilities of cloud, when the infrastructure and workplace transition has been put in place, the adaptability of these technologies and tools will continue to become more efficient, feasible and rapid, allowing retailers to quickly implement and execute their digital and omnichannel communication strategies.”

Interested in upgrading your contact centre?

For those interested in learning more about the benefits of a cloud-based technology solution and the TELUS Business Connect Contact Centre, TELUS is hosting its ‘Retail Revolution – an omnichannel approach for the modern consumer’ webinar on Wednesday, May 26. A panel discussion, moderated by Patrick Watson, Senior Research Analyst at Cavell Group, and featuring Danita Belcher, VP Contact Centre Sales Worldwide at RingCentral, Marshall Berkin, VP Industry Solutions at TELUS, and Craig Patterson, Retail Analyst and Consultant and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider, will explore post-pandemic consumer behaviour, the importance of creating a seamless omnichannel journey and how upgrading the traditional contact centre can help retailers position themselves for future success.

To register for the webinar, click here

Article Author

Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry is an experienced writer who leverages his unique storytelling abilities to bring retail industry news and analysis to life. With 25 years of learning, including over a decade as Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Retailer magazine, he’s equipped with a deep understanding of the unique world of retail and the issues, trends, and innovators that continue to influence its evolution and shape its landscape.

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