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Five Predictions for the Future of the Contact Center Customer Service

Johnny Carson makes a prediction 

All this winter, we are asking our featured contributors to offer their predictions of the future of contact center-industry customer service. Chris Hanna, founder and management coach of Evolving Management, offers his take:

The phone will no longer be the dominant channel for contact centers.

It’s already happening. Text and social media are more widely used than phones by Millennials, and many have an aversion to speaking on the phone. It wouldn’t be shocking to see chat and text explode in usage across many contact centers in the next three to five years. If given the option of voice or anything else, most customers (and even agents) would choose anything else, first.

Expect to see more contact centers prioritize social media support as core to their business model.

For many, social media has become a daily source of communication and news. Businesses desperate to win the war for attention will continue to invest heavily in social over other traditional means of advertising. With that increased investment, customers will expect that these same organizations will have a support presence in social media. The channels will multiply exponentially for many contact center teams, and there will be specialists in user-generated content and social media skills. Contact centers unable to adapt and leverage social channels effectively will run the risk of being out of touch with their customers.

With employee experience becoming widely accepted as the newest frontier, contact center efforts will pivot to ensure the agent experience is more front and center.

We are in a period of tremendous evolution. While most research and efforts have focused almost exclusively on wowing customers and delivering outstanding experiences, the war for talent will require companies and contact centers to adapt. Between side hustles and the gig economy, there will continue to be more options out there for job seekers to consider. Contact center leaders that allow team members to have flexibility, growth and development opportunities, as well as a culture that people want to be part of, will win.

In the next three to five years, expect to see even further merger and acquisition activity across major contact center technology players.

From a technology perspective, the industry may become even further dominated by larger players. Expect to see major players merging and acquiring niche technology solutions to remain both competitive and control all levels of the channel experience. There will be a land grab to plant the flag first in new technology frontiers. For example, remote support will have a more significant role in the next three to five years.

Expect to see continued investment in self-service efforts, as organizations will continue to embrace artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence will become table stakes for any contact center in the next three to five years. With increased pressure both inside and outside of the contact center, leaders will be focused even more on deflection efforts. Scaling up and taking on more value-added work is only achievable if something comes off the plate, and the days of throwing bodies at the volume will be an old school approach. Contact centers will need to have an AI strategy in place that, at a minimum, deflects more straightforward interactions easily by offering up FAQs, YouTube videos, or support content via bots. After all, the best service is often no service at all. 

What predictions can you add? Send your ideas to our editor, Craig Idlebrook, at craig.idlebrook@informa.com, or @ us at @CallCenterICMI.

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