In an evolving customer service and contact center industry, the only constant is change. As 2014 draws to a close, it is important not only to reflect on the past year but also to ponder where the sector may go in the future and how those in the industry can prepare for change. Customer Experience Report asked a few industry insiders, Paul Sweeney of Voice Sage, Jeremy Curley of Bomgar, Kumaran Ponnambalam of Transera, Daniel Fuller-Smith of Toshiba, Matthew Choy of Rsupport, David Ford of Magnetic North, and Kenneth Hitchen of Sabio for their views on what the new year might hold for the contact center industry in the article summary below:
Nearly all companies are seeing the challenge of delivering a true multi-channel strategy as being one of their core concerns. Retailers who have under-invested in this capability are going to feel the crush over the holiday season. A surprise addition to the multichannel pack has been the resurgence of text messaging as a mode and we expect to see this mode do a lot more work in 2015 than people suspected before.
Key to this concept of multi-channel will be the idea of persistent customer conversations across all modes. Until quite recently we have largely being looking at “successful interactions,” but this is evolving into successful conversations. Interactions were driven by ideas of process, automation, and friction reduction. Conversations feel more like Google predictive search: you feel like the service knows you.
Like all incredibly complicated but great technologies, the key to customer experience will be simplification. Simple gives you the opportunity to create “Wow Experiences”. To get to that kind of moment takes a whole layer of foundation work, buried in what else, but the mobile, data, and cloud strategy you have already invested in.
For contact centers, new approaches are required to deal with the range of communication channels so that the customer experience remains positive and consistent. At the same time, tracking and managing all these requests so they can be audited is another challenge.
Delivering services remotely over the Internet can help resolve problems faster and keep customers happy by creating a seamless web-based experience.
There are compliance issues and security measures that have to be in place around support, whatever channel it is delivered on. For contact centers, an audit trail of any remote access activity that occurs is a necessity, while keeping records of chat sessions and call recordings is also a good way to maintain records of service delivered.
2015 – Three Trends Emerging in Contact Centers:
First, contact centers will continue their move away from onsite equipment and towards cloud-based technologies, which provide added agility, more efficient call routing and a host of other benefits.
Second, there will be an increased focus on omni-channel analytics as customer outreach to companies continues to expand across social, text and other non-traditional channels.
Finally, we’re going to see a significant expansion of mobile-based customer service applications. Companies are increasingly realizing that smartphones offer a simple and readily available tool for customers to send videos or images of product issues directly to service representatives, facilitating quick and efficient call resolutions.”
Technological innovation and trends such as mobile working and BYOD are already changing the professional world, but further technological developments are set to be the catalyst for more considerable change within the contact center industry, both in 2015 and beyond.
We are moving towards an era where contact centers will be virtual workplaces, with agents able to operate in a fully-functional capacity from the comfort of their own homes: something that will also provide a better, more connected service to the customer. While next year may be too soon for this change, we are sure to see significant steps taken in that direction.
Call centers will also look to improve their ability to proactively reach out to customers before there is a problem. This will be achieved by improved capabilities in spotting trends on social media, particularly ones related to user issues and product defects. This will put additional stress on call centers but could have a huge impact in boosting customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
At the start of 2014, we conducted some research among contact center managers that indicated cloud contact center adoption is set to explode, with over a third expecting to move in the near future. A further third stated they had become more open to cloud, and the growth that we have seen over the last year shows that this is set to go up exponentially.
What is interesting is the drivers for this adoption. Our research indicated the top driver was the requirement to serve the multichannel customer. What this has led to is a different trend in contact center technology purchasing. As the contact center moves to the cloud and is getting integrated with CRM, and business’ marketing channels, it has become a business-wide concern.
Following Gartner’s predictions that the CMO will soon be buying more technology than the CIO, we are seeing that marketers are increasingly likely to be spearheading the contact center’s move to the cloud. This alters the CIO’s role in interesting ways, as the expert in implementation and integration.
Four additional key trends will impact the contact center industry in 2015:
1. Addressing time-consuming Identification and Verification processes – It’s estimated that traditional identification and verification takes up around a fifth of overall contact center talk time. By migrating ID&V away from the contact center towards consumer ‘edge devices’, organizations have the opportunity to reduce their customer compliance effort down to zero over time.
2. Migrating IVR towards the ‘edge’ – Security won’t be the only contact center function that will successfully transition to the edge. Increasingly smart visual mobile apps can also effectively replicate the capabilities of traditional IVRs, delivering a more seamless experience because security will already be established, and benefiting from greater personalization as the customer’s history and current context will immediately be known.
3. Achieving a better balance between self-service and live service – Accustomed to the ease-of-use and always-on connectivity offered by the best mobile apps, consumers will quickly become more frustrated if organizations can’t align the engagement experience and associated effort levels of their mobile apps and contact centers. Those service providers that take advantage of the innovation and omnipresence of their customers’ smart devices will be most effective in balancing ongoing compliance and customer effort requirements.
4. Applying greater intelligence towards compliance – An effective approach would be to use an increasingly accessible speech analytics solution that can analyze all recorded calls and identify activity or call content that is potentially non-compliant. Instead of randomly sampling calls as part of a traditional QM process, speech analytics can actually alert compliance teams to possible issues – and take them directly to those specific interactions or sets of interactions that are most relevant.
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