In 2021, digital transformation is advancing at even greater speed as organizations move from band-aid remote work solutions to a new operate-from-anywhere standard.

In its top strategic technology trends report for 2021, Gartner confirms that this new standard is more than just working from home or interacting with customers virtually. A successful operate-from-anywhere model supports customers and enables employees everywhere: no matter how, when or where they interact and engage. Further, it provides organizations with a unified focus on cloud and edge innovation, security, collaboration, productivity, intelligence, and analytics to monitor, measure and optimize it all.

To that end, when it comes to customer experience (CX), IT leaders must broaden their focus and consider how best to support and optimize agent-to-agent, agent-to-customer and agent-to-employee communications. In this newly distributed operational environment, information and organizational silos must be eliminated in order to foster communication and collaboration in a way that helps agents quickly and successfully resolve customer issues. And all of this needs to be done in a secure, reliable, disciplined way that supports the new, stringent and unique requirements of an operate from anywhere workforce model.

Unified communication-enabled contact centers see a 50% increase in agent productivity, a 2.9x average handle time improvement year-over-year and an 80% decrease in customer complaints. - The ROI of Uniting Unified Communications and Contact Center, Aberdeen

At the same time, organizations need to meet increasing customer demands and expectations for improved, intelligent self-service. While self-service has been on the rise since the advent of the smartphone, recent events have caused an even greater spike. Today, the vast majority of customers attempt self-service first. When that fails, they want to be connected to the person best equipped to handle their issue.

The bottom line is that, in 2021, customers will expect organizations to have their customer experience house in order. As such, IT and contact center leaders must work together with a sense of urgency like never before. This is where a single-platform approach comes into play.

For their investment, digital transformation leaders benefit from:

  • Improved customer experiences. With more seamless experiences across channels, unified data and insights, and the collaborative knowledge of the entire organization working in both reactive and proactive support of the customer, leaders will be able to define and create a differentiated customer experience that also informs and improves product and service development, marketing strategy, and overall revenue growth.
  • Improved agent experiences. Aberdeen research reveals that unified communication-enabled contact centers (those using a single platform with natively integrated chat and meeting room functionality to facilitate agent-to-agent and agent-to-back office/SME collaboration) see a 50% increase in agent productivity. In addition, these UC-enabled contact centers benefit from CX, IVR and speech analytics that enable agents and managers to engage with and coach each other to improve in real time or over time.
  • Cost savings. Aberdeen also notes that a 200-agent contact center loses $1.5 million annually from agents working across silos to find information. Imagine the savings of increased time and productivity from a single platform approach.
  • Higher quality talent and reduced turnover. 88% of workers say the technology their company uses is an important part of the employee experience, and 91% say they crave modern technology solutions. IT investments in a UC-enabled contact center will attract tech-savvy agents who can meet tech-savvy customers’ expectations, as well as more experienced employees who want long-term operate from anywhere options.
  • Speed and agility. The customer self-service of the past is not the same thing as the AI-assisted options we see today. Leaders have evolved from auto attendants to basic IVR to a full, intelligent conversational exchange. Those that take advantage of AI-based capabilities in a platform-based operate-from-anywhere solution will leap ahead of their peers from better, more effective live agents and faster resolution.

Bringing business communication, collaboration, contact center, and AI-assisted capabilities together, digital leaders will win in the operate-from-anywhere environment of 2021. To learn more, join me and R “Ray” Wang, Constellation Research founder and author of Disrupting Digital Business, as we discuss what’s top of mind for CX and contact center leaders today in CX Trends to Watch in 2021. Or, check out 8x8's new Essentials series.