Of the many things we’ve learned from the COVID-19 crisis, one is how difficult it can be to do business as usual outside of the office. Many organizations were caught off guard by the mandatory business shutdown triggered by the pandemic. While some companies were able to make the transition seamlessly, others were scrambling to a create a workable virtual environment in a timeframe that felt like a fast-moving tornado.
Put simply, the pandemic has fast-tracked the digital transformation of core business processes, while also enabling remote operations. This is particularly true when it comes to equipping customer service teams, the frontline workers in many organizations who are so critical in shaping the customer experience. Even in those cases where customer service representatives, field agents and knowledge workers were already equipped with laptop computers and mobile phones for at-home use, the speed and accuracy with which they were able to respond appropriately to customer queries, or have ready access to customer files and/or your customer communication management (CCM) system, was another issue entirely.
There is no doubt this pandemic is going to have a lasting impact on the way we work. A recent Gartner poll shows that 48% of employees will likely continue to work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19, versus 30% before the pandemic. This shift is definitely not a temporary side effect of the pandemic; it is a new normal for many companies. More remote workers means an increased need to have systems in place that make it possible for people to collaborate digitally and support the bi-directional nature of customer interactions today.
A top concern for businesses now is the customer experience — and customer expectations remain high despite the shutdown. People want to operate at the speed of digital. Their expectations for all interactions are influenced by their experiences with mobile devices: interactions need to be instantaneous, intelligent and context-specific. To respond to these demands, customer service teams need to be equipped with interactive correspondence systems that enable personalized communications to be built from a combination of customer data, approved touchpoints and personalized content. Given the operational requirements of our new normal, combined with the agility and operational scalability that interactive correspondence demands, cloud-based solutions are truly the way of the future.
The most significant requirement for truly effective interaction with customers is speed. Customer service representatives working in a cloud-based system can seamlessly access a customer file and locate an appropriate communication touchpoint and suitable content without asking a customer to hold or, worst case scenario, promising to get back to them once all the necessary information has been assembled. A cloud-based CCM solution can function in real-time, giving teams immediate access to the necessary data and approved content to put together an on-brand, personalized, compliant and context-specific response on the fly. The response then can be transmitted immediately through electronic channels or sent to your print and mail center for postal delivery, according to customer preferences.
Another key benefit of cloud-based systems is the scalability they provide — the capacity to accommodate the needs and growth of staff from all departments, as well as incoming queries from one to thousands of customers simultaneously, without having to add an infinite number of your own servers. New platform functions and features are easily upgraded or added, often without intervention from your IT teams, and the solutions are available 24/7.
Finally, because security is always a concern, fears can be put to rest with the knowledge that it is possible to design a hybrid cloud-based system where interactive processes take place in the cloud, while your organization retains customer files and other sensitive information in secure storage on-site at your office locations.
Today, the cloud-based CCM solution you choose needs to support your current needs, to be flexible enough to scale up or down to accommodate any number of users and any level of customer traffic, enable remote work and have the intelligence to facilitate contextual personalization for fast, relevant responses to customer queries. Modern interactive communications systems leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize correspondence to achieve the right level of reading comprehension, adhere to brand standards and consistency, as well as enforce the appropriate sentiment or tone. These content optimization capabilities help to enhance the customer experience by ensuring communications are understood, familiar (they feel like your brand) and positive. Together, these attributes enable customer service teams to efficiently generate timely, relevant, compliant and highly personalized customer-facing communications across print and digital channels — and to provide a satisfying and positive customer experience from anywhere.
Digital technologies and the internet have supported remote workers for more than a decade, but never has this been a more critical capability than it is today. When the threat from COVID-19 subsides, many organizations may find it practical and efficient to adopt a remote business model to contain expenses, even while an organization is growing and adding employees or new customers. With the freedom a cloud-based solution delivers, staff with specialized knowledge, experience or expertise can continue to contribute and collaborate, even though they may be working from different locations or may want to relocate for one reason or another.
In the aftermath of COVID-19, there is no doubt that a resilient business model is critical to whether your business will move forward or lag behind. From this pandemic, we have learned that every organization needs an infrastructure in place that makes it possible to be fast, agile and managed from anywhere. When the need to work remotely became a necessity, too often traditional methods didn’t work. A critical need arose for a modern solution that enables scale, productive remote work and the intelligence to support two-way communication. This lesson alone makes the case for interactive correspondence in the cloud claiming its place as the next big thing.