Published: April 04, 2016 | Comments
Fast forward to the year 2020. What will be the state of your contact center? Will it use cutting-edge technology to increase customer engagement? Or will it be stuck in the past? While many aspects of the future are difficult to predict, one thing is certain: your customers will own the contact center experience. From choice of channel entry point to resolution, the customer will take full control of their journey to buy products, resolve issues and seek technical help.
Just as your organization predicts future buying trends to plan products and promotions for the coming year, it’s important to explore the influence of technology on the customer experience (CX). In fact, it's essential if you want to differentiate from competitors and deliver a superior, cutting-edge CX. Here are a few examples of contact center trends your organization needs to be aware of to ensure your contact center is prepared for 2020.
1. Internet of Things
By 2020, a staggering 26 billion everyday devices—anything with an on/off switch, from cellphones and coffee makers to washing machines, headphones and lamps—will be activated by users all over the world (Gartner). As technology evolves, these devices are entering into a network of physical objects connected to the Internet and to one another to collect and share data. This is the Internet of Things (IoT).
Consumers will opt to leverage mobile and personal devices as a means to realize their customer journeys, enabling them to engage with the contact center when, where and how they want. This makes it imperative for contact centers to identify opportunities to integrate IoT with the contact center. Contact centers will also greatly benefit from capturing, analyzing and using data from these devices to deliver a more powerful CX. Take household appliances, for example: a smart refrigerator will be able to determine a part that needs to be replaced and transmit the data to a contact center to spark communication with the customer, initiate the transaction and ship the new part.
2. Cloud momentum
Gone are the days of investing millions of dollars in large technology deployments. That's why the cloud is quickly becoming the deployment of choice, thanks especially to its ability to scale and connect contact center employees located virtually anywhere.
Contact center buyers are indicating their preference for the cloud, with 16% saying they will move their contact center to the cloud in the future. There is a steady increase in cloud-based deployments in contact centers with more than 75 agents, with many contact centers in the cloud already approaching tens of thousands of agents (The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty). And it's no surprise why, as many contact center employees become increasingly decentralized to enable customer interaction through any type of channel or device at all times of the day. The cloud is a secure and cost-effective way to seamlessly integrate the contact center and quickly scale to add more employees and technology.
3. Chat will be king
Only 29% of customers rely primarily on the phone for service. And yet, traditional voice interaction is still king in many contact centers today, with 60% of contact center investments focused on voice. Industry analysts say self-service modes of interaction are quickly increasing as the preferred means, with chat in the prime position to overtake voice as the primary mode of future customer interaction.
While chat is not new, adoption has been slow since its inception in the late 90s. In today’s contact center space, however, chat lives in a much different world—one that has it poised for significant growth due to the downturn of once-popular channels. Email is becoming a stale and cold resource when it comes to customer service, leaving consumers impatiently waiting for responses and, in turn, paving the way for the more instantaneous nature of chat. Today’s consumers are so used to chat as an everyday communication channel that early resistance is nearly gone.
4. Social media as a strategic channel
By 2020, social media will become an organization-wide channel, rather than a department-by-department one. Businesses who realize this sooner will have a competitive advantage by orchestrating a multi-channel, multipurpose customer experience. Simply put, successful companies will harness the power of social media to empower customers to own their experience and design their journey (Gartner).
This power will be especially potent when paired with analytics—the study of unstructured, real-time data that companies can use to their advantage in order to learn about and connect with their ideal customer. Business leaders who can identify social media’s role in the complete customer journey will be better positioned to enable transactions over social channels and facilitate the customer journey from social media to other traditional or digital channels. Global brands like Nike, Xbox and JetBlue, for example, have received public acclaim for their mastery of social media customer service. By leveraging the power of social channels like Twitter and Facebook, organizations can build brand loyalty by quickly addressing negative feedback and resolving technical issues.
How to prepare: Things to consider in your current contact center state
Consumers will soon own the contact center experience and companies need to understand what this change means to them and how to adapt. Companies that don't will be left behind.
As your organization looks to the future, it’s important to analyze the current state of your contact center, start planning and take action. Ask yourself the following questions to determine your contact center’s readiness for the CX of the future:
- Do I provide my customers with multiple interaction channels?
- Do I track and strive first interaction resolution across channels?
- Do I offer my customer base a consistent experience across interaction channels?
- Do I address the controllable drivers of channel switching within each interaction channel?
- Does my customer experience vision adhere to the voice of my customer?
To learn more about the future of contact centers and what your organization can do to prepare, check out this webinar.
- Dixon, Matthew, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi. The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty. London: Penguin, 2013. Print