Opinion

A look into the crystal ball of contact centres

The BPO industry has always been at the forefront of technological advances, in fact it’s one of the fastest changing industries in the world. Today, the call centre has become a significant and powerful space, which can – for better or worse – transform the success of a brand. And, with technology progressing at such record speed, customer expectations are now higher than ever!

 

While none of us can really predict the future with total certainty, Leaders in the call centre industry do say one thing is for sure: “The customer will direct their contact centre experience!” As consumers opt to use mobile and personal devices to embark on customer journeys – they will engage when, where and how we want. After all, with just one swipe, we are so accustomed to having what we want in an instant on a 24/7 basis. The demand is for call centres to deliver a rich, integrated, real-time experience on multiple communication platforms that are all accessible on the handheld devices we hardly ever put down. The customer is in control – from choice of entry point to resolution, whether it be buying products, resolving issues or seeking technical help.

Yesterday’s buzzword of offering an ‘Omnichannel’ solution has become today’s necessity. A Contact Centre will simply fall off the grid if they don’t offer a single platform that treats all forms of communication as one, providing full visibility of the customer’s journey across the various channels. Practically speaking, this means that regardless of whether you choose to post a query on social media or phone in – the right person will solve it. Leading the way forward as the chosen platform is the instantaneous nature of chat, which consumers have adopted as their everyday form of communication. They no longer care to wait for an email response and, while telephony will always have its place, it will mostly be used as a back-up or ‘last resort’ when self-service channels fail.

Major advances in AI and Chatbot Technologies are also dominating call centre conversations. As research continues to push bot technology further, it has become all about automated self-service. Whether voice or text activated, bots will help users find products and answers on any device, faster than ever before! Plus, sophisticated chatbots will not only facilitate simple communication and respond to straight forward queries, but also respond with increasing empathy and personalization.

Now, because most basic queries will be easily resolved without the need for human intervention, this leads us to question: What role will human agents play? Well, it seems set up to be an even more crucial one as customers who are choosing to call-in will ultimately be driven by the need for more complex resolutions. The trend towards hiring teams of remote, home-based agents is already on the rise. These digitally-savvy, social-media experts will be highly skilled, proactive ‘super-agents’ who will deliver exceptional customer service across all channels and be at the forefront of delivering a more powerful customer experience.

Also in the spotlight is the power of Advanced Analytics. Each digital interaction, however small, leaves behind a trail of data that reveals individual consumer’s needs, demographics and purchasing behaviour. With the advance of intelligent processing and even more evolved routing, this data will optimise next-level service when it comes to performance monitoring, queue management, caller tolerance and more.

The rate of progression is rapid as we see the once luxury technology used to escalate from channel-to-channel or bot-to-live-agent as the standard, with today’s customers are demanding nothing less. Also hard to ignore is the continued migration of phone systems to the cloud, and why should you? Cloud Solutions have become the new norm. It’s a secure and cost-effective way to seamlessly integrate a call centre business and quickly scale to add more employees and technology, all accessed via an internet connection.

Industry analysts believe it’s imperative for call centres to integrate IoT (Internet of Things) with their business. While the Alexas and Siris of the future continue to handle service requests, the emergence of IoT networked devices will see routine maintenance and aftercare services becoming fully automated too. Just think – your data-rich smart device triggers contact to a service centre without any need for you to instigate it. Or, how about a smart coffee machine able to determine its own part that needs to be replaced, transmit the data to a contact centre to spark communication, initiate the transaction and deliver the new part?

When it comes to doing business, passively handling customer queries is outdated. An active interest in how you can shape and improve your customer experience is what will keep you in the game, maximising business opportunities all the way. It’s the consumer who will run the contact centre experience and companies that don’t adapt will most certainly get left behind.

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