While technology is advancing throughout nearly every industry, it is evolving at an amazingly fast pace in the realm of contact centers. In fact, technological innovations are changing how customer service is being delivered in ways that are dramatically impacting the customer experience. In 2018, the emergence of solutions that incorporate technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, have propelled businesses of all sizes to redefine service and customer success. Yet, these technologies are still in their infancy. Next year, there is likely to be much more progress that will further amplify the need for greater capabilities when it comes to service delivery, as well as to meet customer expectations. What should you specifically look for as we look towards 2019? Here are just some of the technology trends that will shape the very near future.
Trend 1: Increased Urgency for Digital Transformation
More than just a buzz word to be tossed around or an idea to ponder in the coming years, digital transformation is now essential for staying competitive and meeting customer expectations. Traditional call centers have become multi-channel contact centers, and theses channels need to be integrated with CRM, workforce management, analytics and other solutions to deliver the seamless level of service that is now expected by customers. A cloud-based system that combines unified communication and collaboration tools is the clear way to move away from legacy, on-premise technology. This approach can pave the way towards a restructured, modern contact center that meets rising customer expectations and business demands. Through digital transformation, tremendous strides can be made with a complete view of the customer experience across all channels to resolve issues quicker and identify opportunities more effectively.
Trend 2: Greater Integration of Artificial Intelligence
The idea of artificial intelligence (AI) has led some to believe that agents will soon become obsolete. This couldn’t be further from reality. The emerging trend is to use AI technology to enhance agents’ abilities to be more effective and efficient. It will increasingly be used to automate routine tasks so that human agents can better focus on escalated issues.
AI can gather information in a millisecond and determine how best to help each customer based on the context and history of the interaction. With the addition of machine-learning tools, AI can guide staffing decisions, promotions to offer and even prompts to switch channels – all with the goal of optimizing every customer interaction and journey.
Trend 3: Ongoing Improvements in Analytics
The days of simply observing and monitoring agents on the phone are over. With most contact centers managing multiple communication channels, and customers shifting between them, advanced contact center analytics are necessary. Analytic dashboards are increasingly integrated into contact center systems to capture and analyze data across all channels and touchpoints. Agents and managers alike can get updates in real-time to ensure continuous improvement, better training and optimized processes.
Trend 4: More Focused Customer Satisfaction Measurements
Evaluating traditional contact center KPIs is only part of the picture when it comes to achieving goals and objectives. With rising customer expectations, the need for customer satisfaction measurements is greater than ever. The customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is the best indicator of the quality of the customer experience. This can be evaluated at the team and agent level to determine meaningful insights into customer satisfaction.
Calculating customer satisfaction isn’t as straightforward as obtaining other KPIs. It requires a survey process. The most successful surveys are those that are intelligently integrated into each communication channel to obtain a broad picture. Options include post-interaction surveys that customers can complete online, post-interaction IVR surveys, email surveys and even quick response options like pop-ups with star ratings.
Trend 5: Proactive Customer Service
The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to change the role of contact center agents in 2019. Agents will increasingly need to shift from being an interaction handler to a specialist for a specific product or issue. The approach will be more proactive with processes for monitoring and reaching out to customers based on information gathered from a connected device. Agents will require more information to address issues and offer relevant, timely solutions. Problems can be automatically detected by devices and communicated to a contact center. Thus, appropriate resources and retraining will be an important as IoT-driven customer service becomes the new norm.
Few would argue that we’re in an amazing time when it comes to the customer experience. The transition away from single channel call centers to omnichannel contact centers that support seamless, personalized customer experiences can not be understated. In the coming year, there will be new solutions and strategies that will help support businesses as they move towards offering this level of service.