With customer experience on everyone’s lips, the contact centre is about to undergo a major metamorphosis from an ugly duckling to the enterprise’s swan.
Contact centres don’t always represent a shiny jewel in the company’s crown. However, as the pressure mounts on brands to offer excelling customer service, they are becoming a focus of the battle for client’s satisfaction. Considered as a touchpoint of growing importance contact centres are bound to make an interesting subject of a CX makeover.
Here are the 10 predictions for the (not so distant) contact centre future:
1. Forget the voice/chat/email divide
The contact centre of the future will present a unified front. Whether the customer will be contacting a company via phone, email, chat, live chat or social media, every agent will have a full view of the recent interactions and queries. At the same time agents will not be specialised in only one form of combat – they will be ninjas fluent in helping customer via all the mediums available. The focus will not be on a device, but on building a long-lasting customer – agent relationship.
“Customers want to use a breadth of communication channels for customer service….channel usage rates are quickly changing. Customers want consistent service experiences across these channels. They also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another.”
Kate Leggett, Forrester
2. Army of specialists
Most customers will be able to help themselves with an aid of online communities and step-by-step video tutorials. The few interested in contacting a live agent will be usually faced with more complex issues (not to mention frustrated and angry). The contact centre will become the last resort, an emergency number. To remain relevant, companies will be forced to offer their customer a quick-fix. In years to come first tier employees will become redundant. After stating their inquiry into the new breed of Natural Language Processing IVR, customers will be connected directly with a technical specialist, able to help them on the spot, with no need for further transfers.
3. Conversation Analytics will become ubiquitous
Thanks to development of conversation analytics voice of the customer will be used in number of processes such as customer identification, pinpointing sale opportunities, rating customer satisfaction (with product, company, agent, offers), trend prediction, preventing fraud or sensitive information leaks and many more. Analysing every bit of information available will become a mantra of the future companies. Data gathered by call centres will become an intrinsic source of information for the company’s decision makers.
4. Where the agents roam free
As soon as you read, say or hear “call centre” your brain conjures up a vision of a crowded space full of cubicles, full of employees in headsets bent over computer screens. Not the most uplifting view. Press a forward button, and you’ll see cubicles disappearing, desks becoming optional and agents roaming free. With the advance of the speech to text technology, punching the details in manually will become a thing of the past. Identification will be completely automatic and handled by voice-based solutions. This will mean more freedom of movement for the representatives.
5. Uber-style employment
A bane of the call centres – high traffic will be waved goodbye by the scores of casual employees working from home at the time of increased traffic. Trained and tested online they will be given Uber-like online profiles where their skills will be graded by both monitoring algorithms and clients.
6. Real time calibrated monitoring
The current system of random scoring of the calls by the supervisor will be replaced by fully automated, real-time monitoring. Companies will guard their reputation by preventing sensible information leaks with ever alert algorithms. Conversation analytics solutions designed to recognise and understand words, context, sentiment or emotion will be able to raise a red flag and inform managers of situations requiring their attention.
7. Community & loyalty
As contact centre becomes recognised as a vital CX touchpoint, the pressure to keep agents engaged grows. Contact centres’ managers will be faced with a challenge of reducing employee churn, the number of sick leaves and absences. This will require revisiting some fundamental assumptions about the purpose of agents’ work. The focus will be shifted from achieving desirable metrics to helping customers. To inspire engagement agents will be given more autonomy. Offering opportunities to move up in ranks beyond the contact centre hierarchy will be crucial to stop valuable agents from leaving.
8. New era of metrics
Forget about AHT, CSAT and FCR. The old metrics that choked employees and caused them to engage in some shady trickery will be replaced by scores that encourage them actually to help the caller. Customer satisfaction will be measured throughout the call to produce a clear picture of the aspects clients are satisfied or disappointed with. Script compliance will become a mythical creature once companies take advantage of voice analysing algorithms that recognise identity, gender, age and emotional state within seconds. Real-time alerts will offer cues as to what style and lingo are most appropriate in each particular case. Customer-agent matching will be a crucial task of analytic tools.
9. Cloud-based contact centres
We feel almost silly having to mention it, but yes, the Cloud will be the default choice. More and larger telco companies will offer their cloud-based contact centre services. This will allow companies to rent bundles of equipment and software, and stay competitive at a fraction of the cost. Unconstrained by the technicalities, contact centres will shift their focus to tuning their performance by applying the insights gathered by customised analytic reports.
“Forrester data backs this up: 16% of contact center buyers indicate they will move their contact center systems to the cloud in the future.”
10. “Googlesque” employee treatment
The fabled treatment received by Google employees will sneak into even less affluent companies. Think healthy snacks or rest and play areas. Agents will be encouraged to move, exercise and meditate to fight off the stress caused by ever more challenging customer calls. As the demand for the specialists will grow, so will the HR budgets. Contact Centres specialists will become valued assets, worth competing for. Tempting employee benefits and perks will become a bait for employee loyalty.
The age of Customer is upon us, and the success of the companies will be soon defined by their ability to listen to their clients. Effective interpretation of the customers’ signals will become a differentiator between the brands that just promise ‘delightful customer experience’ and those who deliver it. How? By acting upon the information harvested from the source of the purest customer feedback – the contact centre.