Steve Gush, Vice President, Global IT Digital Services & EMEA IT
Once upon a time, the only way to contact a customer service department was by phone. Before the internet and social media, it was the only means of direct communication.
Then came a digital revolution and the landscape began to change. Now, we can communicate across multiple platforms and we expect an almost immediate response.
This has completely changed how companies like SYKES operate and it’s not simply about delivering customer support across all the different communication channels. We recognise that the immediacy of modern communications has, and is, creating greater customer expectation, and we see how to harness new technologies to work in better ways to meet them.
This approach uses technology to augment, or replace, human interaction and, with a clear focus on data analysis, provide a continuous roadmap for service improvement.
Before the internet, a customer’s journey began and ended when they called us. Now, we estimate that around 60% of customers with a problem first search online for a solution.
It’s only when they can’t find a solution for themselves online that they contact us, and then they expect a fast and customer-friendly solution.
In many ways, SYKES is simply an extension of our clients’ brands, and our daily task is to ensure that we support their brand values by providing excellence of service. In developing technologies to aid a customer’s journey, SYKES has deployed specialist teams and has also acquired tech companies that complement our capabilities.
It’s why, for example, we acquired Qelp, a global leader in online self-service solutions, because most customers want to resolve their problem themselves.
Qelp allows customers to achieve just that and, by doing so, reduce support costs for our clients by deflecting unnecessary support contacts. Also, by providing an easy customer solution, it supports and enhances brand loyalty.
And it’s more than just self-service because Qelp combines data from both online and offline touchpoints to provide better understanding of the whole customer journey. Using advanced analytics, we gain immediate insights into what’s working and what needs further optimisation, providing our clients with actionable intelligence and delivering improved customer service.
SYKES’ acquisition of Clearlink takes our approach to customer experience (CX) a step further by bringing marketing, sales and support together as Intelligent Customer Experience (ICX) to view everything together as one.
By unifying each customer’s journey, this provides simplicity and a more customised experience. It also allows for qualitative and quantitative data to be collected, analysed and acted upon.
Once again, it’s about making sense of data and then using the insights gained to improve CX, positively impact brand loyalty and reduce cost…by treating each customer on an individual level.
We’re also using technology to transform how agents communicate with each other and have developed OneTEAM, a platform that enables agents to connect with one another, ask questions within groups, and get instant answers back. By digitising these interactions we use machine learning to enable the platform itself to answer similar questions in the future.
It’s a valuable aid to problem-solving, allowing agents to share knowledge and support one another as they help customers. It also results in a better customer experience, through higher first call resolution, improved access to information and reduced handling time.
SYKES’ acquisition of Symphony ventures is delivering solutions, such as robotic process automation, to automate mundane front and back office processes that are needed to administer accounts, process returns, place orders, where there’s often the need to copy and paste between multiple systems. By using technology to increase how efficiently we respond to our clients’ customers, we increase how effective those interactions are to provide an enhanced level of support.
Another investment is providing access to AI engines that enable us to “listen in” to interactions between agents and customers, with machine learning algorithms identifying the best conversations and then coach other agents. It’s a technology that augments training and helps elevate all agent knowledge to the best level. Think of it like a coach for each person that’s available the whole time they are chatting that constantly provides advice and help.
The technological journey at SYKES is well under way, but there’s always more to do because technologies are constantly changing to offer new ways to support customers.
Ultimately, it’s a journey that will always put people first – both for customers who want great service and our agents who want to provide it. AI is enabling the machine to do more, but humans have that creative capacity that machines can’t replicate. Machines and human working together is what is changing our world.
For more information, please get in touch!