2016: The Year of the Disappearing Human in the Contact Center?

In 2016, contact center technology will become more visual in order to create face-to-face customer experiences that allow for a more connected form of communication.

Photo by Alfredo Molina

Thanks to the advancing technology, the global contact center industry continues to see a dramatic transformation and the question of how much human intervention will be required to maintain a quality customer experience will remain a hotly debated topic. Although atomization and artificial intelligence are threatening to displace humans in several workplaces, agents at call centers have remained the pivotal assets for companies who take customer service seriously.

Now just about every organization knows that contact center agents are the first point of contact for their customers. As the New Year dawns, we are thinking about the next big thing that will change the industry.

In 2016, we will see more emphasis on providing agents with the right technology, at the right time, to give the best customer experiences possible. Here are my predictions for what we will see in the contact center industry in 2016.

The cloud will elevate the status of contact centers

The contact center industry is historically slower to adopt new technologies, so while cloud has emerged in other markets such as security, storage, and CRM, we are just now seeing its impact within customer service. However as business expectations constantly evolve, we’re seeing an even greater need for quick, accessible, “on demand” customer service. Cloud allows for more growth within contact centers, increasing the level of service organizations are able to offer. In 2016, IT professionals will more broadly embrace contact center cloud adoption because of the business opportunities it provides.

Contact centers come full circle with CRM cloud adoption

In recent years we’ve seen customer satisfaction increase as the contact center and CRM systems integrate more tightly in the cloud. CRM solutions have paved the way for cloud adoption, and now will lead the contact center industry by example, enabling businesses to connect the dots between sales, service and marketing. As customer experience becomes more important to an organizations’ overall business strategy, CRM will be a key component in providing a broader, 360 degree view of the customer journey.

Big data is a big deal

There have been a lot of investments made in the exploration of the big data analytics space Using customer data and data analytics will help contact center agents provide the best possible experience to their customers. Customers today expect personalized service no matter what channel of communication they choose. The ability for agents to access customer information, such as call history and channel preferences, lead to a more satisfactory experience. Not only is the customer satisfied with the more seamless service, but agents are also able to do their jobs better. In the coming year, businesses will find ways to make big data work harder by improving contact center performance and ultimately shaping better customer experiences and overall business outcomes.

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Streaming video will emerge in customer experience

Web-based real-time communication (WebRTC) has been on the fringe of contact center adoption for years and has the ability to fundamentally change the way we think about the convergence of audio and video communications. Big guys like Cisco and Microsoft have made strides toward embracing unified communications, and have made it clear that it will increase in adoption in the coming years. As we move toward WebRTC adoption in 2016, contact center technology will become more visual in order to create face-to-face customer experiences that allow for a more connected form of communication.

The contact center industry has a lot of potential to grow in 2016 with the availability of so many cutting-edge technologies such as video, CRM and analytics. Organizations realize that by providing their contact center agents with the right tools and empowering them to fully support their customers, customer experiences are more positive and ultimately the company’s bottom line improves. I look forward to seeing how the customer service industry progresses and the observations we’ll make a year from now.

 

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