No Company Is an Island: Transforming the Omnichannel Customer Experience
It’s human nature to want to stay connected to family and friends, especially when we have important news to share. On the day I was born in the United Kingdom in 1968, my parents announced my birth to my grandparents in South America through a Cable & Wireless telegraph. Forty-nine years later, I find myself working with the company that announced my entrance into the world.
I joined Cable & Wireless about three years ago when we merged with Columbus Communications, which is now part of the larger Liberty Latin America group of companies. Liberty Latin America is one of the leading telecommunications providers in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Cable & Wireless—the company that started it all—was founded in the 1800s, but has continued to evolve and pivot as the communications landscape has transformed over the last two centuries. People are more mobile than ever before. And they want their communications systems and devices to keep up with them.
The desire to be connected and help others communicate has stayed with me throughout my career. I've implemented many digital transformations and run international contact center operations all over the globe for companies like Apple and J.P. Morgan. I currently oversee and direct digital transformation and strategic direction for all of the Caribbean contact center operations at Liberty Latin America.
A New Vision for Communication in Latin America
At the time I joined Liberty Latin America, we had many opportunities to streamline networks and systems across the Caribbean. We did things differently because our consumers and infrastructure required it at that time. But I saw this as an opportunity to help transform the context of our operation.
A big part of my mission was to create an omnichannel solution to drive efficiency, and ultimately to facilitate a better customer experience. This journey was easier said than done.
This was probably one of the most complex environments I’d ever worked in. We had various call queues and limited channels for interacting with our customers. We had two completely different billing systems, and this could mean that an agent could use up to twenty-two different technologies in one day depending on where the customer called from. We had limited visibility to real-time call arrival patterns and a large percentage of ghost calls led to high call volumes and a challenging customer experience. But that was then.
Today, customers demand more options. Technology has evolved. Smartphone penetration has increased in the Caribbean, but, culturally, there are clear signs that show people don’t always prefer to make a call when they experience an issue. We want to give people the choice in how they engage with us. And if they choose to make a call, that experience should be positive.
We decided to transition to a new system that would improve the process for our agents and provide monumentally better experiences for our customers. Our success as an organization depended on it.
We conducted a new RFP to look for the right telephony provider and quickly decided on Cisco’s Contact Center Solutions. We went through a demo and learned how the platform worked from a routing perspective for calls and self-service options. Since we deal with callers in 14 different islands, this can lead to misdirected calls. However, we learned how Cisco Unified Border Controller (CUBE) could create a dynamic environment that would help connect callers to the right agent or right self-serve option at the right time.
It quickly became obvious that this was the best path for our business to move forward. The platform would streamline our operations for our customers and agents while affording the flexibility we’d need to adapt to whatever the future had in store.
Once we implemented Cisco, we experienced the benefits immediately. CUBE alone helped us significantly improve our business. For starters, it has reduced our call volume and we’ve seen almost a 20% decrease in our repeat call rate.
CUBE has enabled customers to effectively reach us in a shorter period of time. Prior to the Cisco implementation, our service levels varied greatly and now we are meeting if not exceeding our targets. Today, our customers rarely wait longer than a minute to speak with us.
We’ve even used Cisco technology in our retail stores. Let’s say a customer goes into a store and wants to close out their account. We’ve set up a section of the store with a Cisco Webex DX80 video conferencing monitor where they can virtually engage with one of our retention agents in our Trinidad Center of Excellence. Customers love that they can see and speak with someone live. We are seeing an increase in our retention numbers as a result of this initiative.
The result of all this work is a remarkable increase in our agents' efficiency. But the goal was never to only improve efficiencies to simply push through as many customers as possible. Improving the customer experience has always been our north star. We want our agents to take the right amount of time with the customer. The reduction in inefficiencies means our agents can invest more time in meaningful conversations with the customers ensuring their questions are answered and their problems are resolved. We haven’t reduced our handle time in any way. In fact, it's had the opposite affect. But we've needed fewer agents to achieve that. The numbers speak for themselves: we’ve seen a 110% improvement in NPS.
The Value of the Right Partner
Our tremendous success couldn’t have been possible without the right partner. If your solution provider truly understands your pain points, goals, and customers’ struggles, they demonstrate that they’re dedicated to learning your business. That was a critical factor in deciding to work with Cisco. We learned a lot about each other during the exploration phase before we made the purchase. It’s critical to partner with a company that will dedicate time and energy to learning and understanding your business.
I find that people often buy the Ferrari of technology and then drive it like a Toyota because they don't know how to leverage the tools. Cisco has a variety of functionality and offerings, and we were able to take our time to explore its capabilities. I don't think you can leverage all of it in one shot. It definitely is a journey. Three years after implementation, we haven't had to change the core infrastructure. We've just added on to it or used more existing features and functions built into the system.
Cisco is not simply a solution-seller; they’re a strategic partner for our overall success. It’s the presale interactions that lay the foundation for a positive working relationship. In fact, we were so impressed that we created a strategic alliance with Cisco to re-sell their services to our customers. That says a lot.
A Streamlined Experience for All Channels
As I look down the road, our biggest goal is to create true omnichannel agents who can seamlessly connect to customers through chat, email, a phone call, or any other method. It’s important to route customers to the right agent regardless of the medium.
For example, in the Caribbean people are now moving toward interacting on different channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter. Funneling those interactions to a true omnichannel agent, who can handle multiple ways of communicating with customers, has to be part of the strategic road map and I predict will be key to our continued success.
When my parents sent that telegraph with their important news back in 1968, they had limited options, yet they still expected the message to get where it needed to go. As we continue to move into an increasingly transformative digital era, the expectations change—as does the technology. Demand for more personalized options is skyrocketing, we want to meet our customers’ needs on every channel. No matter the medium, the message still has to get where it needs to go.
Explore www.cisco.com/go/cc to learn how your call center experiences can be improved.