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An Increasingly Digital-First World


by Sheila McGee-Smith


The week after Labor Day in the US, and summer Bank Holiday in Europe, has always felt like a time of fresh beginnings. In the northeast where I grew up, children were off to school and many were starting work after a refreshing summer holiday.

As with so many things, 2020 is different. For many, back to school means back to video conferencing, either full or part time. The same is true for parents. The end of vacation means back to the desk, in front of a camera most of the day.

The paradigm extends to other parts of our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted telehealth forward by decades in a few months. Teladoc, the global leader in virtual care, reports telehealth visits up 203% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to last year.

E-commerce is also booming, not just because consumers want to limit their exposure to crowds but because so many retail chains have closed in the past few years.

  • Online grocery delivery began surging in popularity when much of the world shut down due to the pandemic beginning in March 2020. The trend has only intensified even as stores reopen.

  • On-demand delivery platform DoorDash began partnering with several supermarket chains as it launched online grocery delivery in August.

  • UberEATS has helped keep Uber afloat as people travel less but also eat in restaurants less.

Even going to the gym has a digital component – scheduling your equipment time or in my case, reserving your lane in the pool. For all of these industries, virtual and remote product and service delivery is supported digitally. Companies have had to create or expand mobile applications and websites for scheduling and/or ordering.

For those of us in the contact center the question becomes are we supporting these customer changes with increased options for digital support? For years we have slowly added email and chat as interaction choices, and that’s good. In fact, the NTT 2020 Customer Experience Benchmarking Report data shows that email is now supported in 89.8% of the contact centers in their global sample of over 800 enterprises. But other digital channels do not fare as well. As seen in the graphic, social media interactions are supported by 66.2% of contact centers and instant messaging (e.g., SMS, Line or WhatsApp) by just 39.5%. Interactions from mobile applications are supported in the just 54.2% of the contact centers surveyed. As consumers, we know that a company offering a variety of channels and serving customers well across those channels are two different things. In addition to not making the broadest variety of interaction channels available, companies often fail in how those channels are delivered.

  • Can the same agent both handle a voice call and send an SMS to a customer about the call?

  • Does an agent handling a web chat have access to the direct message tweet that the customer may have sent about the same issue?


Sheila McGee-Smith Sheila McGee-Smith, the founder and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant with a proven track record in new product development, competitive assessment, market research, and sales strategies for communications solutions and services. Her insight helps enterprises and solution providers develop strategies to meet the escalating demands of today's consumer and business customers. With more than three decades of experience in the telecommunications industry, including 12 years with The PELORUS Group, her professional accomplishments include: Authoring multi-client market research studies in the areas of contact center and customer relationship management. Frequent live and online speaking engagements at contact center and enterprise communications conferences, user group meetings and sales meeting. Strategic consulting to companies ranging from the Fortune 100 to start-up enterprises assessing the competitive environment for telephony products and services. Developing custom research reports, delivering sales force training and designing white papers on technical and business topics. Being a quoted authority on news and trends in the communications market.


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