Navigating the 2024 election year in CX

Navigating the 2024 election year in CX

7th June 2024 · Arvato · Blog

James Towner, Chief Growth Officer, and Nathian Carnall, Chief Operating Officer

We recently contributed to the Customer Experience Foundation’s (CXFO) Election Year report, recognising the unique challenges this presents for customer experience and contact centres throughout the UK – and beyond.

Our Chief Growth Officer, James Towner, and Chief Operating Officer, Nathian Carnall, offered their thoughts and opinions on what this means for our industry below.

The Election Year: What this means for the CX industry

2024 is THE election year. Over 64 countries will be participating in a vote, many leading to huge changes of power, and when that change happens, so does legislation, regulation, and policy.  

This confluence of political dynamics inevitably casts a shadow over businesses both at home and abroad – regardless of current positioning – but as ever, uncertainty creates opportunity. 

What will this look like for the customer experience and contact centre world? After the debacle of COVID-19, will our industry ever fear change in the same way again? 

Uncertainty is the new certainty 

Political turmoil seems to be our new normal, with fluctuating regulations, tax policies, and other government priorities, not only is there a lot of uncertainty for the industry, but this also directly affects consumer attitudes and behaviour, which directly impacts CX and contact centre operations. 

But if we separate the political from the economic, most political parties in the UK have one agenda in this area: to strengthen the economy and generate jobs. Continuously monitoring political developments and proactively adapting to new strategies and change is a must – and the only way to create a level of certainty. 

Balancing technology with the right to request a human 

In an election year fraught with uncertainties, consumers will seek out more reassurance and empathy, especially within financial and public sectors. 

While automation and self-service technologies are revolutionising customer service (we don’t believe we’re fully through the revolution just yet), the human touch remains invaluable, especially during this time. Striking the right balance of both automation and human interaction not only enhances the customer experience and frees-up agents to focus on adding value and providing this extra reassurance. 

As well as this, the likely increase in election stories around fake news and AI interference will only heighten this sense amongst consumers, meaning that maintaining a human touch will become even more important. 

At ArvatoConnect, we firmly believe the right balance between human touch, supported by dynamic AI systems, such as our Arvato Discovery Engine (ADE), that learn to improve processes and support agents, as well as Robotic Process Automation to remove the mundane, routine tasks, are paramount to delivering the optimal end-to-end service.  

It’s also expected that more regulation and policies will be created around AI, so keeping up to date with how this evolves and being adaptable will be key to keeping ahead of the game. 

With ongoing conversations around job creation and economic stability, intensified during an election year, we’re expecting to see heightened scrutiny around employment practices – specifically dedicated policy changes around ‘the right to request a human’. It also serves as a message to both consumers and policymakers that your organisation is committed to employment opportunities. 

As technology evolves, so do security threats. Resilience is key to ensuring airtight systems and processes that allow you to adopt new technologies, confidently and without fear of the unknown. For business continuity, this is non-negotiable. And for your customers and end users, it further enhances your reputation and increases reassurance – something an election year can hinder. 

It’s not just about the balance of tech and human interaction for organisations. It’s also about creating a robust partner ecosystem, including SMEs, that allow you to adapt to market changes, approaching the election year with agility.  

Investment in this ecosystem takes away the reliance on offshoring hundreds or thousands of seats. Roles are kept within the UK, job satisfaction is increased from the removal of the mundane, and employees can focus on what matters most – helping customers and citizens. 

Positive social impact 

Election years often create a flurry of policy proposals aimed at addressing societal concerns and economic growth – the increase in National Living Wage, for example. Whilst these initiatives may be well-intentioned, their implementation can have unintended consequences for businesses – particularly those in the contact centre world. 

Elections can also bring digital infrastructure and connectivity issues to the fore – both from a consumer and worker perspective. Consumers need choices and options to be digitally included. Employees require upskilling and empowerment. Prioritising digital inclusion isn’t just a matter of corporate social responsibility – it’s a strategic imperative. 

Seamless digital interactions are integral to the customer experience. Utilising inaccessible or unreliable channels, without the ability to interact with a human, hinders your ability to engage with multiple demographics of consumers and citizens. Added to this accessibility, user-friendly interfaces and support for diverse user demographics matter.  

Beyond this, digital disparities will limit how effective those self-service solutions are.  

At ArvatoConnect, we follow the ‘Four Ds’ – define, design, develop, deploy. Following these steps ensures a robust framework is created, so that any transformative efforts have the strongest foundations for success. Your digital transformation is only as good as the process you have in place to achieve it. 

The Four Ds allow us to understand customer and citizen needs and address them accordingly. The initial stage of defining what those needs are is key – but something which is often missed by the majority. In fact, our research shows that 84% of firms surveyed haven’t trained employees on the new technologies or processes and 81% haven’t gathered feedback from their customers about their current processes. How can we have a positive social impact without addressing employee, customer, and citizen needs from the get-go? 

Increased data privacy or consumer protection (such as Consumer Duty changes) impose stringent compliance requirements, which demand more investment in technology and training. 

When compliance requirements and operational costs increase, alongside a change in consumer buying habits (due to higher taxes, inflation, cost of living etc.), businesses begin to recalibrate their service delivery models. 

By championing digital inclusion, for both employees and end users, organisations can ensure they align with consumer preferences and societal expectations, meeting new government challenges head on. 

Offshoring vs onshoring 

The debate between onshoring and offshoring extends beyond cost considerations – especially during an election year.  

It encompasses broader socio-economic implications i.e. the emphasis on supporting the local economy, preserving UK employment, and strengthening social responsibility. 

Offshoring comes with its own perils in an election year, ramping up uncertainty around their outcomes and with some of the major markets for offshoring (India, South Africa etc.) undergoing their own elections, this will only increase the challenges that exist. 

Election cycles create uncertainty for employees, which places more emphasis on employee wellbeing and engagement programmes. As businesses reassess their outsourcing objectives in 2024 and beyond, we’re predicting a renewed focus on this. 

Transparency, inclusion, and value will provide employees with that level of reassurance they deserve – especially during turbulent times. A place where they can voice their opinions and concerns, shaping the way forward. For ArvatoConnect, our highly effective employee initiatives, such as The Big Debate, our employee-led forum with our CEO, which gives colleagues a platform to suggest improvements and help shape business decisions; Town Halls, a chance for employees at every level to hear business updates and ask questions to our Board; and MyCreationStation, our employee-driven innovation channel, which rewards ideas and fosters a culture of ‘intrapreneurship’ are yielding increased employee retention (a perennial challenge in the CX industry) and helping to improve customer satisfaction scores. 

Beyond the ballots 

Outsourcing will continue to be a strategic imperative for organisations looking to maintain a level of operational flexibility and cost efficiency. By utilising a robust partner ecosystem, businesses can tap into diverse talent pools, increase employee retention, navigate new policies and regulations, and leverage a wide breadth of expertise.  

Resilience is the name of game when it comes to this election year. Regardless of the result, cost pressures will remain prevalent and social impact and ESG initiatives will underpin many CX and contact centre decisions. 

But by prioritising human-centric approaches, keeping on top of policy changes and the regulatory landscape, and leveraging outsourcing partnerships, this election year doesn’t have to be as rife with uncertainty as previously thought. Harnessing this, with the power of technology, will be the key to navigating the election year. 

Staying agile and innovative will always get our vote – ensuring organisations sustain their success beyond the ballot. 

You can read the full report by CXFO here: Elections 2024 – Customer Experience Foundation (cxfo.org)

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