Smart Contact

Next generation customer service and the operating model of the future

As customers increasingly move to digital channels, chatbots and automation technologies are starting to help organisations realise the promise of self-serve. We believe this will lead to a new place for people, managing the emotional ‘moments that matter’ in the customer journey.


We are now moving into the era of Smart Contact, where customer service operations are aligned with the changing nature of customer interaction and the growing use of smart, connected and automated technology. There are four key themes which have the potential to transform customer service:

  1. The move towards digital interaction as customers start to use messaging to interact with organisations in the way they do with friends and begin to adopt digital personal assistants and smart, connected technologies.
  2. The rise of the bot, taking advantage of digital interaction to build automation into the customer journey within both the front and back office.
  3. A new place for people as the more emotional ‘moments that matter’ are delivered through the experienced human workforce and the more functional enquiries through automation and self-serve.
  4. An agile operating model will help support the changing nature of interaction through more flexible working patterns, including crowdsourcing and mobile working.

Our report takes a look at how to get started on this journey and how to set yourself realistic but ambitious goals as to where you want it to lead.

Our key findings

  • Instant messaging use has grown by nearly 70% over the last three years while voice calls have dropped dramatically since 2012
  • Organisations are starting to adopt messaging as a customer channel as it aligns with the way customers communicate socially
  • Digital assistants and smart technology have the potential to take humans out of the communication loop altogether, for some types of contact
  • Big brands are starting to incorporate chatbots into their channel mix, and the trend looks set to continue as the bots become more reliable
  • New organisational models are appearing, integrating technology and humans and delivering flexible resourcing through crowdsourcing and home working

Looking ahead

  • Organisations need to start their journey towards the operating model of the future now, however small the first steps may be. 
  • Delivering proof of concepts will help build support and separate the hype from reality 
  • Customer-centric design will help you avoid delivering a solution that still needs to find a problem
  • An agile approach will help you learn and adapt as you go 
  • Taking your customers on the journey with you will build trust and allow you to take calculated risks

Deloitte expert viewpoint

‘Robots and automation have the potential to realise the promise of self-serve and transform frontline customer service into a more proactive, value-delivering activity’

‘Rather than marginalising people, technology can actually help place them right at the centre of an improved customer experience.’

‘It’s easier to be sceptical of the hype than it is to truly understand what new technology could mean for your business’

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