Five Contact Center Trends That Will Dominate the Market by 2017

From the correct utilization of social media platforms, to the introduction of virtual agents, the biggest trends in the contact center business are here now, but are sure to dominate by 2017.

While the evolution of technology is rapid, the contact center and its customers can extract real benefits from new innovations, as they make interactions easier, friendlier and cheaper. However, staying up-to-date on these technologies requires continuous investigation into their benefits, including the return on investment and impact on customer perception.

To lend a helping hand, here are five of the biggest contact center trends that will dominate the market by 2017, and while the successful integration of these trends will involve precise planning and foresight, the benefits will be noticeable for your customers once they become an integral part of your business.

Omnichannel

Many people still confuse omnichannel and multichannel, but the big difference is that multichannel allows customers to interact through different, unconnected channels. This results are customers having to start over with their query when changing from phone to chat, for example, and can also result in inaccurate internal reporting.

Omnichannel combines all channels of support and communication into one seamless experience for the customer, and it’s been the customer services buzzword of 2016.

However, before determining if your company needs omnichannel infrastructure, it’s important to understand the needs of your customers, the size of the customer base and the available budget for your new contact center technologies.

Cloud Based Contact Centers

This year, most contact center software companies have begun offering cloud based services under a pay-as-you-go scheme. While this is not necessarily a brand-new trend, it is an excellent option for businesses due to the speed and ease in which it can be implemented.

Cloud-based services offer 24/7 support and provide real flexibility and adaptability, particularly in their ability to be integrated with third-party CRM platforms such as Salesforce, Zendesk, SAP, and Facebook.

Virtual Agents

With today’s technology and software, real-time monitoring of agent performance is very simple and it’s possible to track every move of home-based agents, so more contact centers have been actively exploring the benefits of this employment option.

Training and feedback can also be done remotely, so any distance between the agent’s location and your premises won’t cause any issues with talent management. Certification, recertification and up-training can be done through an e-learning platform that the agent can access at any time.

In a few years, it’s very likely that one out of every three agents will be working from home due to lower attrition rates, productivity improvements, a reduction in costs, and more flexibility for extended hours if the business operates on a 24-hour schedule.

Social media

In my opinion, social media is the Achilles heel of most companies in today’s digital world. Almost all companies have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but the service provided on these platforms is far from what customers expect; companies either don’t reply to questions and complaints, or they respond using a default template.

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As an example, I frequently a particular movie theater chain, supposedly one of the largest in America. After experiencing an issue while attending one of their VIP cinemas I made a complaint to the manager that was never resolved, so I decided to write them a message via Twitter. Using just 140 characters I explained myself and requested a follow-up. The response came almost immediately: “Thank you for your contact, we have escalated your issue with the proper department”. After that, I never received a response, so I decided to never visit any of their movie theaters again.

Social media can generate positive or negative discussions that will impact your brand if not handled properly, so if you have an open forum then take advantage of it. When responding to a customer, always go beyond what they expect, then post the follow up and final results so others can see the outcome, building further confidence in your brand.

Self-service

Doesn’t it feel good when you can solve something yourself? Simple things like resetting an internet connection or rebooting a device to solve a minor issue shouldn’t require a call or a chat session. With that, companies need to explore the option of self-service portals, detailed FAQs and video guides to allow customers to find this basic information for themselves.

With a self-service portal, customers can search for their problem online and follow instructions to fix it. In the worst case, if they were not able to solve their issue, the portal can include a click to call button where they are transferred to an agent and they don’t have to repeat all their information in order to get assistance.

As these trends communicate, staying up to date on new technologies is the secret to better customer service, so keep in mind that today’s customers are more tech-savvy and can make or break a company’s reputation based on their experience.

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