With the year coming to a close and 2017 just over the horizon, it makes sense to look to the future in anticipation of things to come in contact centers around the globe. Throughout the 20th century, contact centers primarily supported customers via the telephone. However, as customers have come to expect 24-hour, 7-day-a-week resolution services in real time, contact centers have been forced to evolve from rudimentary stand-alone operations to multi-channel, multi-function units in order to manage customer relationships. Today’s contact centers are expected to take care of both inbound and outbound calls, web inquiries, and email and chat customer service needs in a seamless and instantaneous fashion. Still, as technology continues to evolve at neck-breaking speeds and customer expectations continue to rise, one can’t help but wonder, what will the contact centers of the future look like? The Future Agent Today, most call center agents have to toggle between a set of standalone software applications on their desktops to access the information they need to service customers. The results often lead to a disjointed customer experience and a fragmented workflow. Future agents will be required to use tools like visual customer profiles which combine all known information about customers as well as automated pop-ups that advise agents on the next best course of action based on the use of voice and text analytics against real-time customer feedback. This will strengthen the relationship companies have with their customers, and improve customer retention and loyalty while increasing organizational ROI and efficiency. Less Walls, More Cloud In the future contact center, there will be no walls between the customer-facing areas, like the contact center, with non-customer-facing areas like billings and accounts-receivables. By using cloud technology, companies will be able to make changes quickly by way of integrating various systems via web services. For example, an agent will be able to know whether the customer they’re talking to just tweeted a complaint about a product or service or if a recent chat session with that client was satisfactorily resolved. Naturally, this will enable customer service agents to follow and track the customer’s journey and afford the decision-makers a holistic view of their customers. The Right Agent for The Right Customer In the future, companies will need to identify and match agents with certain skills to the most appropriate channel. For example, call agents who are adept at multitasking between different media sources can be assigned to support millennial customers. Companies will also use analytic tools to match customers to agents that best fit their needs. Lastly, as customers continue to use self-service tools, contact centers of the future will have to thoroughly analyze customer feedback to make changes needed to improve their self-service options. ____ The contact center of the future must be agile enough to adapt quickly to customers’ changing expectations. Keeping in mind the swiftness of recent technological changes, how will your company prepare itself to respond to customer demands five years from now in a timely and efficient manner? Ask yourself these questions to determine your contact center’s readiness for the customer experience of the future:
- Do I provide my customers with multiple interaction channels?
- Am I offering my customer base a consistent experience across interaction channels?
- Do I track and strive for first interaction resolutions across channels?
- Does my customer experience “vision” match the voice of my customer?
- Am I properly managing the controllable drivers of channel switching within each interaction channel?