The new buzzword: what is a customer experience hub?

Customer service needs and expectations evolve alongside technology. For example, the proliferation of the telephone led to telephone-based customer service and, subsequently, the call centre. Then came the internet and web-based support, which led in turn to the multi-channel contact centre.

But customer service needs continue to evolve. Expectations are pushed forward by new and ever-more prolific technologies, as well as changing working and living practices.  

Now the contact centre as we know it is becoming outdated again. It’s time to evolve.

Enter the customer experience hub.

The outdated contact centre

The world is changing — only spurred on by the changes in working life introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, agents want to work from home. Customers have newly flexible schedules. The use of digital communication channels is higher than ever.

These changes to the ways we work and interact with the world are presenting challenges that current contact centres are struggling to meet.

Take, for example, the rise in remote working. This is a factor making bricks-and-mortar contact centres out of date. Agents want the convenience of home working. For the most part, they don’t want to have to commute to the contact centre every day. As a result, reliance on traditional phone lines is harder to manage while online, digital support can meet the need far easier.

Then there’s the fact that contact centres are having to manage much higher query volumes. This is due to both rising customer complaints, and customers having more time to see through their service needs in one go. Consumers want problems solved and done. They don’t expect to put up with days (or even weeks) of asynchronous back-and-forth contact to get issues sorted.

What is a customer experience hub?

The contact centre needs to evolve. And the next evolution of the contact centre is the customer experience hub.

A customer experience hub is a digital-first contact centre, rich with resources to support companies whose core measure of success is CX (customer experience).

In other words, a customer experience hub is a customer-centric ‘one-stop-shop’ full of resources and communication options. Its goal? To create great, digital-first customer experiences.

So, what’s different?

What, then, makes the customer experience hub different from the contact centres we’re used to?

• Business attitude

With customer experiences hubs, the core of everything is customer experience. So, while traditional metrics still matter, business success is measured with customer satisfaction metrics acting as the key signifiers.

• Expanse of use

This leads to another core difference between the customer experience hub and the contact centre.

Customer experience hubs aren’t there just for service users needing assistance with a query or issue. Rather, a customer experience hub encompasses a host of ‘post-sales nurturing’.

Customer experience hubs are built to deliver customer experiences — even before service/support. What this means is that the full, big-picture customer service journey matters. The hub isn’t just about solving problems as quickly as possible. (Though that remains part of it.) Rather, a customer experience hub is also about making sure the customer is happy and had a great experience with the post-sales engagement.

• Technology and communication methods

A customer experience hub will boast multiple, integrated touchpoints and resources for customers to use. They are digital first. This means (for instance) that they’ll have a greater emphasis on digital support than on traditional phone calls.

This isn’t to say that phone calls are dead. But, while they’re still available, the practice of digital deflection will keep call volumes down. This is where omnichannel support is embraced and other support channels and self-service options are highlighted to customers.

So, the customers comfortable with and suitable for digital support get to interact through chat channels, through online self-service resources, with chatbots, via efficient emailing, on social media, and so on. Meanwhile, VIP callers and those that aren’t digitally comfortable can continue with phone calls. All without the wait times caused by too many callers at once.

The result is the creation of better service experiences for both those that need calls, and for those that don’t.

The challenges of the customer experience hub

All change comes with challenges. And the change from the contact centre to the customer experience hub will likely also meet teething pains.

For example, there will be a period of disruption while businesses work on getting the infrastructure and technology in place to support a customer experience hub.

Then there’s also the time it will take to implement the needed new training and policies. This includes factors such as:

  • – The time it will take for companies to shift to the customer-obsessed mindset
  • – The training that agents will need to be able to work effectively with the new digital-first approach
  • Mitigating change aversion/resistance from those not comfortable with change, or who need extra time to be fully on board with the evolved form of the contact centre

The emerging customer experience hub

Contact centres were the evolution of the call centre. Now, it’s increasingly looking like their heyday has reached its end.

‘Customer experience hub’ may only be viewed as a buzzword for now, but it’s one that describes the future of the contact centre. One that’s better suited to the working and living environments of today.

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