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Building on a Strong Foundation: The Contact Center Through 2025

While much of the 2010s were focused on big data, customer experience, omnichannel, cloud services, AI, and digital strategy in the contact center space, the opportunities to come involve building on the foundation laid over the last decade.

These efforts and advances were meaningful, but they were only a precursor to the power of the contact center as a business service within the enterprise. If you’re still working on some of the foundation, it’s probably time to prioritize your budgets and forward-looking business strategy to stay competitive. While many now compete on the Customer Experience that was enabled by those projects, the competition will be heating up quickly with technology advancements that take business intelligence to another level. Here are the top 4 trends I am predicting as a thought leader and early adopter of intelligent solutions in the contact center and business space.

  • Data Science – The automation age or sometimes known as the fourth industrial revolution is still present and will be during the next 5 years at minimum. In 2020, there will be over 6 billion smartphone users globally, and by 2025, there will be over 50 billion smart connected devices in the world—all built to collect, analyze, and share data about consumer behaviors. Analytics with this data will spur innovation, create efficiencies, increase revenues, and alter business strategy or execution moving forward. We’re still figuring out algorithms, how to combine structured and unstructured information, create patterns, leverage machine learning datasets, and more. When combined with sentiment and other contact center metrics in combination, it creates a list of a company’s needs and opportunities to leverage facts and insights for business opportunities.
  • Bots – In the same way that data science will be used to drive efficiency and remove costs, so will bots, especially in the contact center. Bots have already emerged as a clear solution for solving customers simple needs automatically. What many companies have built into their IVRs to make it easier to do business, is now being built internally and in certain customer-facing situations to automate transactional contacts or processes in applications or online. In terms of continuous improvement and cost reduction, companies that are investing in teams of business process improvement specialists are seeing fast ROI quickly and well-thought-out proof of concept. This may mean phone calls will get longer and possibly more difficult for your agents, but offline or email work may dramatically reduce. This is something to consider as you look at job descriptions, budgets, and hiring for your contact center in 2020 and beyond.
  • Gig Economy – A major shift in the way we work and do business is already taking shape. By 2027, more than half of American workers – 58% – will have some experience as independent contractors. For contact centers, this creates numerous considerations. Consolidating facilities, work from home strategies, leveraging contracted project resources are the most pressing shifts taking place today. What it means for the next five years goes even further beyond that: 51% of workers in 2019 were looking for a new job or watching for open positions, according to Gallup. If you’re not engaging your agents or if you don’t shift your flexibility accordingly, there’s a strong chance you’re going to experience staffing problems.
  • Predictive Analytics – When certain retailers know there’s a highly likelihood that you’re pregnant before your family even finds out, based on your purchase history (like in this real story from Target), you begin to realize the power of analytics and what it could mean for your company and for yourself as a consumer. Predicting which customers are at risk of leaving your company based on their sentiment or CX score from the last several engagements and then proactively offering them an enticing offer or personalized touchpoint to retain them is just an example of what companies can and are doing today via the contact centers business intelligence. Connecting the dots and building achievable initiatives around your analytics is key for any contact center in the near future. We’ve gone far beyond call taking in the last decade and being seen as a cost center to executives. Viewing and demonstrating it as a profit center is where the advanced contact center leaders are winning.

It’s an exciting time to be in the contact center space. While technology is rapidly changing the game, leaders who keep their eye on the importance of soft skills, leadership development, agent development, and a strong culture are those will run the successful contact centers of the future. Whether you're old school or new school in your methodology or thought process, balance the best of both worlds and your contact centers will thrive.