ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Will Channels Become a Thing of the Past?

While meeting with Brad Cleveland at ICMI Contact Center Expo in Orlando this May, we explored a bit of what’s to come in contact centers. For some, what we discussed in the realm of channels is going to come as a shock.

Watch the conversation or read the transcript below and weigh in with your comments!

Edited interview transcript:

Jim Rembach: It’s great to see you here, and you know the last time we talked on your episode of the Fast Leader Show you mentioned the thing that excited you most in this industry was omnichannel. It's been a few months since that conversation, so where are you now on your thinking? Has that focus and passion changed at all?

Brad Cleveland: That’s a great question. I think more of customer engagement – and I think "channels" are going to become kind of a thing of the past in our thinking and the way we operate. Even the term suggests there are differences. And there are, but from a customer perspective, it's really just about being able to communicate fluidly. Customer service interactions such be just like having a conversation, as we do in our personal worlds. Some texts, some videos, some face-to-face. And I think we’re going to see that continuing to become more natural in the business context.

Jim Rembach: Okay, that leads me to think about the ability to support that type of interaction. And the management of that interaction and the flow of all that communication. When I think about the legacy aspects of the contact center, we haven’t really been configured that way. So, what’s going to happen?

Brad Cleveland: No, right now we’ve got a lot of channels and we’re trying to ensure that they work together – it’s a little bit kluge as of yet. We’re beginning to see the signs of a better-integrated environment. And I think that’s tools, that’s processes, that’s the people part. And I’m excited to see how that all unfolds. I think artificial intelligence is going to be a great help. We’ll see where things go.

Jim Rembach: When you start thinking about industry growth – the impact of the industry – I see the world as a whole becoming just more service-oriented. And so, when you think about it from that perspective, the growth of contact centers just going to continue to climb and climb. However, is some of the automation potentially going to diminish that growth or is it just going to make it actually accelerated at a faster pace?

Brad Cleveland: You know, we’ve been working on preventing contacts and improving self-service for three decades now. The web came along in the early nineties, and that really expanded the opportunities for self-service. And there were predictions all along the way that our workloads were going to decline. But that hasn’t happened yet. What is happening is our contacts are more complicated, and they’re higher value.  But the pie is changing. It’s not like some the solid some zero-sum game we’re playing out there. So, I’m not so sure workloads going to go down right away. What I am sure of is that we’re going to have more of those contacts that are high value and that require that the gray matter on the part of our agents.

Jim Rembach: And I would dare to say based on what you just said that I’m interpreting strategic importance. And typically, the contact center has been quiet about that strategic value and importance. But I’m hearing you say to increase our levels of business acumen as contact center leaders so that we can reveal our strategic importance and value to the organization.

Brad Cleveland: I can’t agree with you more. That is exactly right. What we do, we’ve got to do well. We’ve got to create value. We’ve got to connect with our customers and ensure that our brands shine through. And if at the end of the day we’re handling a lot of rote transactions – we’re not going to be around. We’ve got up the value.

Jim Rembach: Brad, we appreciate you sharing your insight, and we wish you the very best.

Brad Cleveland: Thank you, Jim. I appreciate your work and all you’re doing for this profession. Thank you.

This interview originally appeared on the Call Center Coach blog. It was republished with permission