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Contact Center Industry Predictions for 2023

Looking into a crystal ballAs we close out 2022, we asked our ICMI thought leaders to look into their customer service crystal ball to predict what changes and trends are in store for the contact center industry in 2023. Here’s what they had to say.

Sangeeta Bhatnagar, Founder, SB Global

From a human capital perspective in the contact center industry, there will be an increased focus on the entire employee experience across all touchpoints, right from recruitment, onboarding, training and development, with a focus on employee engagement and retention.

Organizations will be more creative and open to solutions to solve the labor shortage. One example will be an increased focus on skills instead of traditional education or exact experience. This expanded pool of possible candidates will help with the labor shortage.

To retain talent, organizations are adapting and building in a commitment to creating an employee-centric environment with a culture of inclusion, social responsibility and supporting a lifestyle of balance. Training will support a hybrid or fully remote learner. Dynamic tools and strategies will continue to evolve in order to solve the number one challenge, which is Learner Engagement.

Thomas Laird, CEO, Expivia Interaction Marketing Group

AI is rapidly changing how contact centers operate, but in different ways than people thought. AI has not yet been this panacea where we see it taking over the role of the contact center agent. Where AI will continue to be improved and a force will be in three areas which are agent assist, analytics, and internal contact center operations.

Agent assist will continue to really improve as more of the CCaaS players roll out their own versions. I can see some of the third-party players in the space become assets to be purchased by some of the larger contact center telephony platforms.

Analytics will continue to get better as tone is starting to be applied to the trending keyword for improved sentiment scoring. I predict by the end of 2023 sentiment scoring will be starting to take the place of CSAT and NPS scoring. 2023 also will be the first year we will start to see real-time sentiment analysis on a wide scale.

WFM is one of the most underreported ways that AI is being used. Forecasting and real-time adherence tools will continue to be remade with this new technology. Workforce intelligence (aka moving reps in and out of skills based on predicted wait times) will be a powerful tool now that AI is starting to infuse it.

Nick Glimsdahl, Director, Contact Center Solutions

What's driving customer experience trends today? There are a few key things.

  • First, customers are more empowered than ever before. They have more choices, more access to information, and more control over their own journeys.
  • Second, expectations are rising. Customers expect more personalized, convenient, and seamless experiences.
  • And finally, technology is playing a big role. Advances in artificial intelligence, omnichannel commerce, and digital experiences are all reshaping how customers interact with brands.

So what does all this mean for businesses?

Simply put, businesses need to focus on delivering exceptional experiences at every touchpoint. They need to be more customer-centric in their approach, and they need to use technology to create more personalized, convenient, and seamless experiences.

Greg Kihlström, Principal & Chief Strategist, GK5A

I predict that automation related to customer service and the customer experience, in general, will continue to increase, with more focus on personalization and integration with other tools that talk with the customer at other stages in the customer journey.

For instance, customer journey orchestration will take into account customer service status and inquiries when deciding when to send unrelated marketing messaging. This means that organizations will be looking at a more holistic customer experience

I also predict that organizations will look at the customer service and support organization as a more integral part of their calculation of customer lifetime value (CLV). This will fit with an increased focus by organizations on CLV as a key performance indicator (KPI) that drives their business strategy.

Jeremy Watkin, Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn

Given the current economic climate and our focus on both employee and customer experience, our priority and focus must be on optimizing the productivity and quality of agent performance while elevating and growing their roles in our organizations in ways that boost retention. Going hand in hand with this is the importance of using a variety of technologies and methodologies to optimize customer self-service. I don't foresee any radical, monumental changes in 2023, but rather many small, but meaningful improvements that add up to big progress over time.

Mike Aoki, President, Reflective Keynotes, Inc.

WFH or hybrid is here to stay! Whether it is driven by employee demand or real estate cost savings (a key driver from the corporate point of view), WFH/hybrid looks to be a permanent part of many contact centers.

The challenge is that frontline agents spend 80%+ of their time talking to people outside the company (i.e., customers), so it is easy for agents to feel disconnected from your organization. To combat this, develop an employee engagement plan to keep WFH/hybrid agents engaged. What will you do each day, each week, each quarter, to help them build links with co-workers and feel supported by management?

Also, the need for phone skills training will increase in 2023, as more Gen Z's enter the contact center. I talked to my friends by phone all the time when I was a teenager. But for Gen Z, phones are used for texting, internet surfing, and video watching, rather than actually talking to people.

When this group of agents join your contact center, they may not have the phone skills necessary to deliver great customer service. Your onboarding program needs to help Gen Z new hires develop their "phone voice", listening skills and ability to verbally empathize with customers.

Nate Brown, Co-Founder of CX Accelerator and Sr. Director of Customer Experience at Arise Virtual Solutions

The future of CX is not some new technology. It's still just people serving people....but in all kinds of exciting ways. But, naturally, the technology will help to enable these creative new capabilities. As Jonathan Shroyer has mentioned, it's fun to think of the future of service in the form of Jarvis from Iron Man. Jarvis is an intelligent guide who is always right there to proactively help you accomplish your goals...with the capability to see and anticipate things that we never could. Imagine if brands could be right there ready to assist in this same way!

I love to take this vision step further, and introduce the "Pepper" element. Pepper acted almost as Iron Man's conscience...helping him to seek out purpose and do the right thing for the right reasons. This very human capability, combined with the power of Jarvis, enable Iron Man to quite literally save the universe. This is the true future of service...technology combined with the human relationship to help customers achieve things they would have never thought possible.

Another macro-trend I believe we will see grow in 2023 is what I've been calling "Mission-Driven CX." This is the principle that customers are going to do business with organizations who actively embody the core values that are most important to them.

Ultimately, we all want to develop relationships with companies in the same way we do with other people. We gravitate towards those we can trust and who act in a manner consistent with how we see the world.

Prior to “The Age of the Customer,” an organization would not need to concern themselves with such ideals. Now, if an organization is failing to embody their unique identity throughout the experience, they forfeit one of its greatest competitive differentiators. Purchasing decisions in today’s marketplace are often less about what, and more about who.

Customer Experiences professionals need to be about crystalizing the brand core of the organization they serve…both to its employees and customers. Once made clear, the work is ensuring this promise is delivered consistently. This is how lasting loyalty is earned!

Editorial note: Nate's contribution was accidentally overlooked. We regret the error.

Topics: Best Practices, Culture And Engagement, Employee Experience