An article about contact center trends recently caught my eye. The article, found here at Nearshore Americas: The Eight Most Influential Contact Center Trends, hones in on eight contact center trends for 2014. However, I would like to focus on the six trends that I believe are most important.
The first trend in the article is fitting in the cloud. Many contact centers have already moved to the cloud by using software solutions, but most are still premise-based. The cloud provides huge advantages for contact centers including scalability and speed of deployment. Security and reliability were once liabilities, but are becoming stronger on the cloud. Small and medium sized businesses are expected to move to the cloud. However, as the article states, large outsourced call centers will probably not make the change just yet.
Use of video, mobile apps, and social media are also featured in the article. These technologies have been in use for many years, and contact centers are finally catching up. Instructional videos are an easy way to inform an entire client base at once, instead of teaching individuals one by one. Social media is a huge part of the world we live in today. If your contact center is not using social media to reach customers or even just to deliver news, you are behind the times. Mobile apps have become the norm in the past few years. Anything you can think of, there is probably an app for it. The article says the new trend will be for mobile apps to enhance customer care, but I believe apps should also be used by administrators to enhance their reps’ performance.
Something that surprised me was the virtual agent trend. This goes one step beyond a traditional IVR and gives the application its own persona and enables some conversational capabilities. Instead of waiting to go through the IVR and press a bunch of keys, a virtual agent would allow the customer to speak and have a conversation to take care of transactions or be routed to the correct place. The article notes Apple’s ‘SIRI’ as a turning point in using virtual agents, which are not brand new.
The final trend I want to focus on is being an Omni-channel contact center. A multi-channel contact center utilizes text, chat, voice, email and more to interact with the customer. An Omni-channel center does the same, but to be an Omni-channel center you must excel in all of those areas. According to the article, Omni-channel is about ensuring a high-quality customer experience, regardless of how and where a customer chooses to interact with an organization. In addition, it ensures that data and context from previous contact are carried over to all channels to improve customer interaction.
I think the biggest trend will be the first one listed in the article. Moving to the cloud is something all contact centers should consider. Many of the subsequent trends are already features in some cloud-based contact center software solutions (ahem, 3CLogic). Using video and social media, among other channels, to interact with customers is a must; and if you can use all these channels effectively, you will be an Omni-channel contact center. And that is the ultimate goal of most contact centers: to provide first-class customer service. These trends are just new ways to help achieve that goal.
Gonzalez, Juan Manuel (2014, December) The Eight Most Influential Contact Center Trends, nearshoreamericas.com, http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/tech-trends-dominate-contact-center-industry-2014/
By Jay Sharma - 3CLogic Sales