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Why the human touch is the real differentiator for service providers and communications contact centres



Rightly so, digital capabilities are the holy grail for contact centres in the service providers and communications industry. However, digital itself is not a differentiator.

Ken Jacobsen

Ken Jacobson | Group Sales Director | Media and Communications

What truly sets market leaders apart is the human touch with which digital is deployed.

Ninety percent of respondents in the 2016 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report acknowledge that customer experience (CX) is a differentiator and the most important indicator of strategic performance. However, 35% of them find that the digital tools being used to create the desired experience are not delivering strong enough business results. This, in spite of pro-active automation of outbound activity to pre-empt customer needs and continuously improve CX.

As always, the reason is that technology on its own is not enough. To create business value, it has to be relevant to human needs. Specifically, today, it has to meet the highly individual needs of the whole spectrum of an organisations’ customers rather than those general needs the organisation thinks would best address its own objectives.

Analyse, design, refine

In other words, the basis of customer service really hasn’t changed. Know your customers and ease their journeys.

One of the advantages digital adds is the ability to connect individual customer journeys across a multitude of contact channels. Most Benchmarking Report respondents will have a minimum of 10 channels available by 2017.

To connect the journeys in the most cost-efficient and productive way, however, you need to understand both the opportunities and the means digital offers.

Your homework would therefore include small data analysis – for big ideas on how to ‘get personal’ with customers and deeper analytics – to identify opportunities that pre-empt customer needs. Automation to then pro-actively personalise services is a given. But, it’s essential to eliminate the dehumanising effect digital has on customer relationships. Involve the people inside your organisation in designing and refining the solutions you want people outside your organisation to use.

Paying attention

Inspiring people is also about carrying yourself with confidence and projecting an attitude of optimism. However, it’s important to be honest about the good and what’s working well as well as what’s not working and needs to be fixed.

I try to be open and transparent with our people about where Dimension Data is as a business. I believe we should talk openly about what we’re really good at, celebrate our achievements, and strive to build on that greatness, but we shouldn’t shy away from talking about the things that we need to improve on.

When it comes to the pinch…

For forty years, most contact centres strategies have been driven by cost.

Now, however, 9 out of 10 boardrooms are putting the digital means to achieve CX ahead of cost. Even so, you can’t just install digital capabilities and walk away. Digital is inherently agile. As are your customers. So, you have to pay continuous, simultaneous attention to both your technology and customers to ride the digital wave profitably.

You can make that job significantly easier by using the cloud. It amplifies the agility and blends the possibilities inherent in digital. Which is why 56.6% of Benchmarking Report respondents have cloud strategies in place.

But, whether you use cloud or any other digital technology, it must be overlaid with a human touch.