Twelve Latest Contact Center Trends That You Should Be Aware Of
Contact center technology has significantly evolved over the past two decades and more so in the last few years.
With the onset of the pandemic, the technology infrastructure in contact centers evolved to accommodate remote and hybrid working.
12 Latest Contact Center Technology Trends
Many technology trends are shaping the way contact centers function today. I have covered the twelve most significant contact center trends:
1. Cloud-Based Solutions
Most contact centers have moved to the cloud or are moving to the cloud. Every platform provider today has a cloud offering. You can attribute a substantial percentage of this move to the pandemic, as most contact centers had to move their employees to work from home.
Cloud provided the contact centers the flexibility to move their agents home quickly within a short period. Cloud contact centers offer additional benefits such as reduced costs, low barriers to entry, improved scalability, and increased flexibility.
Besides, with cloud contact centers, you can scale up and down the resources at the click of a button. In most cases, the implementation time taken to roll out a cloud contact center is less than 48 hours.
2. Omnichannel Communication
You can reach us 24×7 on call, email, chat, and social.
Wouldn’t your customers love this?
Besides, if you have a single view of all your customer interactions, you can provide the best possible customer experience.
For that, all your channels will have to be integrated, which is what the omnichannel experience is all about. Your customers will love you because they will not have to repeat themselves to multiple people in your customer experience function.
As a customer experience function, half your battle is won if you have a single view of all your customer interactions. Omnichannel is the beginning of this experience.
3. Workforce Optimization
Workforce management (WFM) will allow you to direct the queries to the right agents with the right skills at the right location at any given point in time. It doesn’t matter which channel the query comes through – you will be directed to the right agent with the necessary skills to address your need.
Workforce management handles all of your scheduling, forecasting, adherence, performance management, and training of your agents.
It includes monitoring, reporting, and flagging capabilities, combined with additional, flexible features to empower agent productivity and enhance the customer experience.
4. Self-Service Options
When you look at customer challenges, about 60 to 70% of them are repetitive and transactional, which can be automated using self-service channels like FAQS, bots, and assisted IVR.
As a customer service function, you can document all the repetitive queries and their solutions as an FAQ or knowledge base. This would allow your customers to look at them and serve themselves.
Transactional queries can be automated through rule-based bots and conversational bots. For instance, you can ask transactional questions like account balance, checkbook requests, pending dues, etc., to the bot and get a response.
You can use assisted IVR to perform transactional queries like bill requests and payments. This would free up your agents’ time to address complex questions.
5. Video Chat
Have you ever experienced video chat as a part of customer interactions? It is absolutely smooth, especially in banking and other regulated industries.
For instance, I recently applied for a credit product with a bank, and the entire process of filling up the application form to doing the KYC was done in 10 minutes. The process of eKYC took about 3 minutes on a video chat.
Video chat is also handy when troubleshooting devices and equipment you have difficulty operating.
Video chat easily allows customers a more personal and interactive experience, and they are here to stay.
6. Real-Time Analytics
Real-time analytics allow contact centers to track and analyze data in real time, which can be used to improve operations and optimize performance.
Let us look at a scenario. I engaged with my vendor’s website and didn’t like the experience provided, so in the rating screen, I chose the ‘thumbs down’ sign. Now, how does the vendor respond?
Option 1 – Thank you for your feedback
Option 2 – We value your feedback. Rest assured, we will act on it
Both of these options don’t give me the confidence to further provide them with feedback. They aren’t asking why I have chosen the ‘thumbs down’ sign.
With real-time analytics, my details would be sent to the CRM, and within minutes I would have received a call from the organization to check the challenges I faced in the experience. They would start to act on it.
This is the power of real-time analytics.
You can also check on our latest article on: How to Build Rapport With Customers?
7. Knowledge Management
It doesn’t matter how user-friendly your offerings are; your customers still would have queries they would want you to address.
This is precisely the reason customer service exists.
However, most questions that most customer questions can be predicted in advance and covered as a part of the knowledge management for your agents to access while addressing customer queries. Besides, the knowledge management system can be updated with anything new that comes up as a part of the customer service process.
Knowledge management systems should be easily accessible with proper tagging of keywords, which the agents can easily access.
Knowledge management would make your customer service exceptional.
8. Social Integration
You cannot escape social media in the current environment. People have preferences, and most contact center platforms come with social integration.
You will have to look at social as a channel and have people address customer needs there.
With social integration to your contact center, your agents can respond to your customers on multiple social channels, making it a truly exceptional experience.
Most young customers would prefer to interact with you on social channels, and the integration would make it easy for you to provide a better customer experience.
Gamification in contact centers can help you to motivate your agents, make work very enjoyable, and improve call quality and customer experience.
With gamification, you will be able to motivate your employees and establish a culture where you reward hard work and top performers consistently. You can deploy games strategically at places where your customer service is lagging.
Let us look at an example of gamification.
Improve KPIs Using Gamification
Identify a bunch of KPIs that you want to improve for the week or the month. Choose a KPI to focus on daily and reward top performers with small prizes each day.
You can give away small gifts daily and allow employees to bank points and accumulate them for a larger reward.
You can even consider conducting contact center Olympics, where you accumulate all the points that agents get over a defined timeframe for different KPIs – be it a fortnight or a month. At the end of it, have a grand party where you actually reward them with medals and the associated prizes.
Have a leaderboard that everyone can access to see who is leading in real-time.
The very first step to providing exceptional customer experience is integrating all your customer-facing applications with the contact center platform – ERP, CRM, inventory, shipping, helpdesk, website, mobile apps, chatbots, and social.
With this integration, you can capture every customer interaction irrespective of how they choose to interact with you. This would allow you to provide a single view of your customers, and they don’t have to repeat themselves.
Besides, the agent’s knowledge of the interactions would allow them to delight your customers and cross-sell and upsell your other offerings.
When you have a wholly integrated contact center, you can derive intelligence from it quickly.
Let me give you a few examples of what contact center intelligence can do for you:
- If your customers abandon your shopping cart after reaching the payment page, you know that the payment page is tacky. Your intelligence engine can pull this out, which can be used to improve the UI and, in turn, the customer experience.
- Suppose customers are constantly asking about delivery schedules on your chatbot, which your intelligence engine can identify. This will allow your product category managers to consider including that as a part of the product descriptions and availability itself.
- If a majority of your customers have the same queries for which they reach your customer service representatives, you can consider providing answers to those queries as a self-service option, freeing up your agents to address complex queries
- Using voice analytics and intelligence, you can go over your call recordings to understand the sentiment of your customers and the associated red flags. You can even identify the red flags based on keywords.
Accenture research reports that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.
McKinsey reports that 71% of customers expect personalization, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t find it.
So, personalization is key to providing customer experiences, which in turn means that it has to be a part of your customer interactions.
Who are the leading poster boys of personalization that we encounter regularly?
One is Amazon, and the other one is Netflix.
30% of my purchases on amazon were based on the recommendations given by its personalization engine, and 1 in 3 movies that I watch on Netflix is based on the suggestions it provides.
So, 30% of my decisions on both these platforms are due to personalization, based on my purchases, viewing, and preferences.
How do you make this happen for your customers?
You already have a lot of information about your customers. The only part is that you are not fed that information when talking to your customers.
Let me explain this with a scenario.
As a contact center agent, you get a call from a customer. With his number, you pull up all the information and say thus, “ Hello, Mr. X. I see that you have recently subscribed to our support service for your air conditioner. Thank you so much for that, and is this call related to that? I would be happy to assist you with anything.”
The customer would really love you for this. Most likely, they are calling to report an issue with their air conditioner, and you already have all the relevant details of the customer.
At the end of the call, the agent says, “I also see that you have looked up our vacuum cleaner but did not go ahead with the purchase. There is a 20% offer on the specific model that you looked up. Would you be interested?”
How do you think the conversation ended? Most likely, on a positive note.
This is what personalization does. For this, you need to have a single view of your customers, which your omnichannel platform should be able to provide.
Overall, these trends are helping to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of contact centers in providing the best possible customer experience. As technology continues to evolve, how you interact with your customers will also evolve.
We will likely see more and more customer-focused trends that will get included in the customer experience function.