New technologies for a new era
The contact center space is rapidly evolving, due to a range of exciting new technologies that will significantly alter the industry in the near future.
The contact center has always been amongst the front runners when it comes to the implementation of sophisticated technologies. Of course, in today’s evolving and rapidly digitalizing workspace, the challenge for today’s contact center is to select the right technology, implement it properly, and then use it to optimize performance on a day-to-day basis.
Bearing this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the high-level technologies that are already impacting on this industry, and which are only likely to become more important and relevant in the near future.
An increasing number of contact centers are moving into the cloud, as this becomes the platform of choice for a growing number of businesses across all sectors. Improved security and efficiency in the cloud is seeing an increasing willingness to store sensitive customer information here and leading more companies to adopt virtual call centers. Of course, while cost reduction remains the number one reason for companies investing in an enterprise contact center solution, it is no longer the sole motivator. Businesses are also moving to the cloud due to its flexibility and scalability, as well as the speed of deployment and its ease of operations.
The growing need to satisfy customer expectations from omnichannel interactions is also driving the uptake of the cloud contact center, as this will make it easier for centers to integrate data from the various channels into a single view of the customer. No doubt, as the larger, premises-based centers reach the end of life for their existing infrastructure, they too will move to the cloud. In addition to the abovementioned advantages, moving to the cloud also has a number of other value-adds in terms of functionality. These include automated workforce optimization, forecasting and scheduling and, most crucially, interaction analytics.
Big data and analytics
Big data, and the analytics tools that enable contact centers to derive value from it are also important new technologies that are having a growing impact on the industry. Basically, analytics allows contact centers to parse through swathes of data in order to obtain a clearer picture of the individual customer. Knowing the customer better enables the center to determine trends and predict future market changes. It also provides centers with an in-depth analysis of information gathered across various mediums, for different periods of time.
We are seeing more customers moving away from the standard voice call and turning instead to Web and mobile apps to solve their issues, as an increasing number of them claim to prefer self-service apps, rather than speaking directly to an agent. Therefore, we can expect to see centers providing further intelligence, along with the interaction context, so that customers' questions can be answered without involving a live agent. Gartner has predicted that customers will manage around 85% of their own relationships with businesses by 2020. This means that the majority of clients will make use of things like Web self-service, mobile apps, and visual IVRs, instead of the traditional voice channel. For this reason, companies should be preparing their channels for intelligent self-service - including elements like FAQs and video tutorials – in order to improve and transform the customer experience.
This is another technology that is increasingly being utilized in the contact center, as it is used to replace instant messaging and, more vitally, to create a more personal connection between the agent and the customer. One reason for the growing uptake of video chats is that it offers a quick and affordable way to service those customers that require a deeper and more technical experience. Although not a new technology, per se, video chat is still in its infancy as an effective contact center tool, but the fact that it enables an agent to share content and speak directly to customers, allows them to personalize the experience in a range of new ways
We are certainly witnessing the rise of chatbots within the contact center space, as these are the ideal technology to handle basic inquiries. As these are more widely deployed, some agents will be able to focus on the more complex queries, as their workload is alleviated by these tools. This affords agents the chance to add value to both the business and the customer.
Speech and text analytics will begin to train chatbots
Continuing from the above point, as chatbots become more widely deployed, so the centers using them will need to ensure that they are properly trained to say the right things at the right time, and in the right manner. Speech and text analytics are usually applied to do quality evaluations of the customer experience with human call center advisors, so this selfsame technology will be applied to chatbots, to improve their efficiency constantly.
Finally, we are seeing a growing demand for a decentralized workforce, which is not only beneficial to agents - who have the opportunity to work flex hours, not to mention saving on both transport costs and avoiding the stress of sitting in traffic - but can also prove advantageous to the organization, After all, it reduces costs to the company and results in happier agents, which inevitably means more satisfied customers. Thanks to technological advances in real-time monitoring of agent activities, it is now quite simple for contact centers to track the strengths, weaknesses, and workload of their agents, wherever they are working from.
Clearly, the industry is currently faced with a wave of change in respect of the rapid technological developments, improvements, and changes that are impacting on business as a whole, and the contact center in particular. It seems obvious that if you want your contact center to continue delivering the services you promise, and you want to deliver the channels your customers expect, you are going need to consider adopting some or all of the above technologies seriously.
[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that align with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.