Happy New Year and Greetings Friends!

Welcome to the first of many meanderings and reflections on technology trends! I wanted to kick off our inaugural communication with a few thoughts on where we’ve been, where we’re going, things to keep an eye on and choices we get to make.

I typically kickstart my January with a single word to propel my thoughts, actions, and deeds throughout the year, but this year the word that came to me was actually three words. Three simple words, but together they pack a punch. My motto this year is MAKE IT COUNT! At the close of 2021, I struggled to embrace a single word that captured my spirit, but as my eyes opened one day last week it came to me, or I actually believe it was divinely placed on my brain for such a time as this.

Make it count. Why that, this year? Because friends, the “times they are a changin’.” We are in unprecedented times, unprecedented advances in technology, an unprecedented financial position, and an unprecedented labor force. Nobody has a crystal ball to know what this year will look like, but I do think we can capture the events of the past 2 years and start to make observations and some light predictions. As always, our guiding principle is to keep it simple. Here are a few things that we know:

  • The workforce is still undecided about where to camp each and every day. While we saw hope of a return to the office on a mostly full-time basis, the new Omicron variant has again sidelined many businesses at the start of 2022.
  • Companies made major technology advancements since the inception of Covid in 2020 and in a rapid timeline. But were those changes the best permanent decisions for their business?
  • Labor shortages have made things, well, interesting. Two years ago, I don’t believe we could’ve predicted an exodus of retirement, job changes, or a complete exit from the job market.
  • Quality of life for employees, customers, and leadership is now not something we “strive” for, but a table stake to provide as part of its very culture.
  • There has never been a more uncertain time surrounding companies state of security. The “bad guys” are coming fast and furious and targeting anyone with a bank account.

The good companies have already started the infamous “pivot” by creating progressive HR policies and flexibility, the GREAT companies are leading the pack and leveraging technical tools to automate and improve the daily lives of those in its wake. I’ve been in the workforce, ahem, (cough/sigh!) close to 25 years and I know we could not have predicted that the traditional brick and mortar front door to the company would shift to an online front door of the company. The internet was just being embraced by and for business, but at that time, we were still barely posting directions to our businesses online. Remember printing out MapQuest directions?!?!?

Today, the first stop of doing business with any business is online. Even the main page of your website is likely the second or third stop on the research journey. Instead, folks are looking your business up where they spend their time online, on social media, YouTube, and Tik Tok. This is a vastly different ecosystem of business tools than in the past, but if done well, can completely transform a dynamic customer experience you can offer your customers and employees!

Here are a few trends that will make 2022 a year to remember – and a few ways to MAKE IT COUNT in your business:

  • Flexibility – Being able to access your technology, administration capabilities and business rules on the fly is paramount for the business needing to keep up with day-to-day changes. Not only to be ready for changes in work from home status, but to be able to quickly respond to changes in pricing, labor scheduling, or even the ability to change a promotion on the fly.
  • Personalization– the move to online shopping, work-from-home, and remote work has driven a clear need for individualized online experiences similar to the way a guest would interact in the storefront. Knowing your customer, why they buy and how they like to engage will be incredibly important for the successful business in 2022.
  • Speed– Five years ago, we all understood and had patience to wait on internet timeouts or slow transactions. Today, companies need to offer flawless commerce and information sharing to avoid their customers from simplyclicking somewhere else. Taking it a step ahead and being one step ahead of the customer is how to drive loyalty. Speed is the new commerce.
  • Security– ensuring your brand is known for quality and is secure keeps buyers with peace of mind.
  • Human connection– if we learned anything since the early days of the pandemic is the continued need for human connection. Companies that inject well-qualified human assistance (on your product/service) to augmentautomation creates good brand experiences. Seek creative ways to weave personalization and human connection into all automated processes.
  • Priority service – reward clients for repeat business and brand loyalty. CRM and priority routing can make loyal customers sing your praises and be more likely to recommend you to others.
  • Productivity management – As businesses shift to a remote workforce or agent staff, productivity is looking to be measured. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Companies are seeking better insight into employee and business productivity.
  • Consolidation – Lack of tools and reporting metrics are often not the problem. The issue may be there are in fact too many tools that perform similar functions making it hard to synthesize the data and know which set of metrics the business should use.

Client Communications Tools to Solve for the 2022 Predicament:

  1. The use and adoption of video engagement. No better way to provide your client personalized service than with a guided, personal experience to enhance their brand experience.
  2. Automation. Wow your clients with immediate response and updates through the use of workflow automation tools that provide customized, automated reminders to do what you say and actually follow through seamlessly. Tools to automate personalized communication through text, email, voice, chat will have your clients begging for more meaningful communication and drive brand loyalty. When customers embark on an online journey to purchase your product, most will love proactive communication about order status, new promotions about products you may be interested in, and even pictures of how others may be using the product/brand to drive that sense of community. Companies need automation and tools to consistently drive that communication and personalization.
  3. Conversational AI. Today’s consumers don’t want to spend hours on the phone checking status, asking basic questions, or punching antiquated phone menus to get the answer they need. Conversational AI allows the customer to simply speak the request and get a simple answer in return. Marry up technology and a human touch by offering an automated human for outbound phone calls to schedule deliveries or rides are in the past. Consumers now want to automate scheduling or rescheduling activities through conversation. This can save companies tons of money in labor, reserving agents for more complex, high value transactions, and offloading simple tasks in a cost-effective, real-time manner that increases customer satisfaction.
  4. Priority based routing. Drive customer satisfaction through the roof by offering priority service to loyal customers. Assign highly qualified, targeted agents to assist with complex questions or sales or repeat customers. Better yet, keep the same agent involved throughout the customer lifecycle to ensure personalization and order accuracy.
  5. Quality management. Think 100% screen and call recording is expensive? Time to rethink! Many services include 100% call and screen recording as part of their offering, allowing you to better serve your clients and employees. Recordings can be invaluable training tools and always on demand if Customer Service needs to investigate an unpleasant transaction. It’s also a great idea to listen in on good experiences to learn and validate your customer needs.
  6. Surveys. Want to capture immediate feedback from your customers? Offer an automated survey through SMS or chat. Offering an immediate, online experience raises your chances two-fold for a response. Plus, you now have your customers contact information to share new promotions, news, and order status information. Better yet, offer a link to update a recommendation on social media and let the world know about your amazing customer service!
  7. High speed, redundant, low-cost 5G broadband.5G is here and is ready for business! Inject high speed wireless broadband for failover and redundancy at employee’s homes or anywhere broadband is creating a bottleneck. Plans start around $55/month for 100G and install in days not weeks.

I hope you enjoyed just a few ideas to jumpstart your 2022 customer experience! Our team at iSymplify has implemented all these technologies and truly enjoy rethinking the modern workplace. Let us know if we can help along the way.

This is your year. Make it count!

Cheers!

Lorie Burkemper
President
iSymplify