Will 2022 Be The Year Of Digital Transformation?

When the pandemic arrived many businesses were faced with a challenge. In some sectors, such as hospitality and non-essential retail, the immediate future looked bleak as government restrictions were closing down their ability to operate normally. In cases like this the companies had to pivot quickly to new services, or the same service delivered in a different way, or they had to calculate if they could afford to just temporarily close the business.

This created a wave of digital transformation that was inspired by the crisis. Companies that had never used e-commerce were suddenly creating stores on Instagram so they could still interact with customers and take orders. The five-star Claridge’s Hotel in London started delivering their famous Claridge’s Fried Chicken to discerning customers. Heinz started sending cans of beans directly to customers to avoid the retail bottleneck. 

Five years of normal e-commerce growth happened inside 2020. Crisis creates a situation where innovation and transformation is possible because the alternative is to watch your business fail.

Contact centres were not allowed to operate normally during the pandemic so there were thousands of British customer service advisers that started working from home (WFH) instead of commuting to their office. The WFH option has now been embraced by the industry. Even though it is now possible to get everyone back to the contact centre, it has not happened.

Why hasn’t there been a return to the old normal?

Because the emergency transformation has demonstrated to both employers and employees that there can be a better way to manage customer service processes.

  • Cloud computing can create virtual contact centres allowing advisers to work from home or from a contact centre – building resilience
  • Collaboration tools now make it easier for teams to work and socialise together, even if they are not all seated in the same location
  • WFH allows companies to hire from anywhere, rather than being restricted to the people who live near to a contact centre 

This transformation has already taken place. It’s clear that WFH is now going to be an integral component of any customer service strategy in future. There is now no reason why WFH cannot be the central core of a customer service strategy – that’s what Sensée has managed for many years now.

But the digital transformation of customer service processes is set to continue. It’s not just that 2022 will be a year of transformation, it is likely that this entire decade will see the relationship between brands and customers dramatically transformed.

  • Artificial Intelligence will find patterns in customer behaviour so brands can get closer to what their customers want and need.
  • Data analytics will allow brands to understand when and why customers buy their products – so they can engage more effectively and create personal offers that encourage more interaction.
  • A focus on relationship, not just transactions, will move contact centres away from the metrics that focus only on calls to exploring the value of a customer over their entire lifetime.
  • Product companies will offer services changing how we interact with our favourite brands – think about companies like Nike allowing customers to design their own shoes, so they receive a completely unique product.
  • Brands inside a lifestyle. Successful brands will insert their service into the lifestyle of the customer. This could be a bank that helps the customer to save for specific targets or direct-to-consumer brand that ensures you never run out of pet food – making life easier will be a requirement for success.

The digital transformation of customer service is already underway and was accelerated by the pandemic. Although today we still think about customer service as a process of taking calls from customers, the future vision will involve dramatically more self-service using smart speakers, automation with chat bots, and a more general focus on the long-term customer relationship – not just the individual transaction.

In 2022 we are already experiencing the early waves of post-pandemic digital transformation – are you ready?

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