Published: October 20, 2014 | Comments
A quick trip to any museum not only provides an interesting picture of yesteryear, it reveals an instructive barometer on the ways we have changed. What would be the artifacts and displays in a Service Museum? And what would it tell us about the ways service offerings and customer expectations have evolved?
In the not too distant past, retail stores had sales clerks on the floor (not just at the register), grocery stores had bakers, elevators had operators, gas stations had a mechanic and someone to wash your windshield as your gasoline was being pumped. Mail-order catalogues were all-purpose and not specialty. Stores had layaway plans and returns clerks; banks had signature loans; doctors made house calls. A phone was just a phone…and, on the desk. Work was 9 to 5 and in a dress or coat and tie.
What if we could look forward as easily we can look back? What would the contact center of the future be like? Let’s imagine the contact center ten years from now. Call center operators would speak through a translator perfectly converting the language spoken into the language the customer needed to hear and vice versa. There would be no call waiting because we would have learned how to staff to precisely match demand or there would be a way to link and share operators anywhere on the globe capable of instantly handling overflow calls.
As a customer, you could decorate your own chat room so that, simply through your inbound phone number or email address, the system would know it was you and change to fit your unique preferences. My chat room would be purple and have Willie Nelson quietly playing in the background. There would be no straining to understand that operator in Mumbai because the accent would be converted into the dialect the customer preferred—so an Indian accent could sound Texan or British. You could choose if you wanted a live person or a super adaptable artificial intelligence avatar. You could even select the style of the interaction on live chat. Just like going to “I-got-a- speeding-ticket” driver’s school taught by a comedian, you could have a chat with someone who was funny or sophisticated or super-empathetic, or whatever you liked.
If the contact center became a destination location, what else could it become? It might become the primary portal for customer education, record keeping, buying analytics, and repairs. With a Google-like capacity the contact center operator could become your new best friend and truly the ambassador fronting the company. What else can you imagine? And, what do you need to do to get ready for tomorrow? Sending a fax seems like yesterday; the contact center of 2024 will be here before you know it!