TCN provides call center technology for businesses across the globe. They recently released their latest consumer survey on the impact call centers have on customer loyalty and engagement. The study helps businesses navigate current and upcoming technology with statistics to support informed decision-making.
Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, recently spoke with McKay Bird, Marketing Director at TCN, about TCN, upcoming trends in call center technology, and how they affect customer loyalty.
Can you tell us a little more about yourself, your position at TCN, and maybe a fun fact?
Bird: I am the marketing director here at TCN and currently work with our marketing and sales teams to bring TCN’s cloud-based software to market. We also work in conjunction with our partner teams to educate the industry on the many benefits of using TCN Operator.
I have been doing this for over a decade, and I am proud of the content and development our team has produced. Since 2020 and the pandemic, our team made many adjustments in our approach and strategy and continue to learn so much. I am very excited about the initiatives we are working on for 2023.
For people who are not familiar with TCN, can you give us some more information on the company?
Bird: TCN is a global provider of comprehensive, cloud-based call center technology for enterprises, contact centers, business process outsourcing firms (BPOs) and collection agencies.
We built the TCN Operator platform as a collection of top-of-the-line call center tools that are seamlessly integrated together. Combined with our no contract promise, you get a software experience like no other in the industry. TCN’s call center software supports billions of consumer and agent interactions each year.
While many call centers are adopting AI and automation to help with the influx of calls, how do you see that impacting the customer experience both in terms of challenges and opportunities? How does this affect customer loyalty?
Bird: Call centers implement AI and automation into different aspects of the customer journey to help support existing workflows, supplementing agent efforts. It is costly and difficult to replace the agent altogether. Instead, these technologies will act more as an agent-assist, right before and during a call.
In a recent consumer survey TCN conducted, we asked respondents about how satisfied or dissatisfied they are when using a self-service option. Of those surveyed, 65% said they were extremely satisfied. This shows that call centers can expect a boost in customer loyalty and satisfaction when AI and automation are implemented properly.
You mention three main trends that call centers will need to focus on in the new year. Can you tell us more about these trends and what call centers can do to manage them?
Bird: We’ve recognized three main trends we foresee coming into play in the coming year. The first of which is leveraging your call center's most valuable asset: your agents.. Agents are now able to demand more in both wages and work-life balance. In a recent survey we conducted, we found that 66% of Americans are likely to abandon a brand after a poor customer service experience. When you put that statistic to how you treat your agents, you start to see how they are your most valuable asset.
Secondly, self-service and AI are definitely top of mind as businesses look to offset high wages. These services enable call centers to provide a better customer experience. Basic requests like payments or account look up should be deflected so agents can focus on the more challenging calls.
Lastly, new regulations surrounding call centers have caused the industry to innovate its technology and practices. Consumer protection is one of many driving forces of compliance changes. Call center software providers are constantly innovating and creating new technology to improve call center functionality. For example, new technologies such as ringless voicemail are great but gained the attention of the FCC. These new technologies will be given their own set of rules to ensure contact centers and consumers alike are protected.
There seems to be a good deal of interest in the call center arena, it is an area of interest for our members. What is the current state of call centers?
Bird: From a technology standpoint, there will continue to be more regulation in fintech, an increase of M&A of software stacks, and a bigger push to move call centers to a vertically integrated software platform software. No more disparate systems.
Call centers are having to do more with less and this can impact their bottom line. For example, large integrations and multiple platforms are hindering growth and greatly costing call centers. In addition, high wage costs and flexible work schedules are making call centers adapt quickly.
Brands are using/leveraging call centers in their CX/customer loyalty efforts, yet many are going to Chat, Bot based interactions? What are you seeing? Is chat more high-end, customer-focused, a hybrid, etc?
Bird: This year’s survey revealed that, while consumers still prefer interacting with a live person when dealing with customer service reps, quality customer service and loyalty do not need to be sacrificed when utilizing other solutions. We found that consumers are increasingly comfortable using self-service options and chatbots, whether they're checking a balance, paying a bill, looking up an address, or resolving simple requests.
Chatbots are becoming more intelligent and, in turn, resolving many customer service issues without the need to introduce a live agent. We found that 55% of consumers said they are satisfied when using online chatbots to resolve a customer service issue.
Brands struggle with the marketing technology landscape and which technologies can assist them in their customer loyalty, experience, and engagement efforts. Many marketers have a hard time understanding technologies, getting internal buy in, and staffing their teams to support these platforms. How should or can brands address this?
Bird: Many MarTech/technology companies support brands through the challenges of customer loyalty, experience and engagement efforts with the use of omnichannel solutions. Using notifications to communicate with customers, establish loyalty, and maintain brand relationships can help improve the customer experience and streamline things on the company’s end.
Customers are always changing, but with the recent COVID pandemic, there was unprecedented change in the ways brands communicated with customers. How did the pandemic impact call centers and their relationship with customers? Do you think any of these changes are here to stay?
Bird: According to our 2022 Consumer Survey, half of the respondents believe the coronavirus pandemic has positively impacted customer service. Our 2021 survey revealed that consumers overwhelmingly prefer interacting with a live person when dealing with customer service reps; and this year’s survey reveals that is still the case. Still, we found consumers are increasingly comfortable using self-service options and chatbots, whether they’re checking a balance, paying a bill, looking up an address, or resolving simple requests.
I think many of these changes, while streamlined due to the pandemic, are a result of consumer expectations adapting—which is why they are here to stay. Many of the changes in communicating with customers will be the way of the future—meeting consumers where they are, through the channel of their preference.