There’s no denying that the contact centre is the central hub of your customer service. Although admittedly it’s not always been smooth sailing, you’d be lost without it. And the next few years are going to shape the contact centre into a turbo-charged customer experience powerhouse. With new technology always emerging and evolving, things are beginning to look good.

But what does the contact centre of the future look like? And where will your people resources come into play? Read on and you’ll find out.

There will be bots

Bots and Conversational AI will take centre stage in the contact centre of the future. Gartner predicts that 25% of customer service and support operations will integrate Virtual Customer Assistants (VCAs) or Chabot technology by 2020. It’s likely we’ll be seeing virtual assistants similar to Amazon’s Alexa, used to help complete tasks for customers in the background during telephone communications.

Chatbots, will play more of a role in communicating with customers that come to the website. Working alongside sales agents and customer service representatives to bolster sales and improve the customer experience by complementing the customer facing teams you already have.

These intelligent technologies will take over from services like live chat and messenger. Companies like Facebook have had to evolve to accommodate bots to keep companies communicating with their customers. For example Cara, the jewellers have implemented an AI Chabot on their Facebook page in the messenger. This transformed the customer experience through social media, utilising the AI up until the customer was ready to be handed to a mobile agent. The chain of events makes the experience seamless right from the start.

But human interaction will still be preferred

The robots might be coming, but they will not take over human interaction, yet. Customers will still require assistance that only humans can provide. Besides, the robots have ‘been coming’ for the past few years, but it’s taken the technology this long to be good enough to deal with customers. And even then, there’s still a lot of human interaction that cannot yet be delegated to a robot, or never will!

People admittedly do turn to the internet first when searching for the answer to their problem or when they need to raise an issues. However, when all other channels fail, people will still pick up the phone and want to speak with a human.

Technology changes jobs, it doesn’t replace them. With robots, monotonous tasks will become automated. Freeing up more of a creative and innovative space for employees and empowering them to be able to focus on resolving complex customer issues. Arguably, the employees in the contact centre of the future will be some of the most capable customer problem solvers and vital to enhancing the customer experience. 

Most importantly, customers want choice in how they communicate with you. The nature of the enquiry dictates the channel used. Determined by time, location, urgency and emotion. If it’s of high value or high emotional important, a more urgent, real-time channel will be favourable, such as voice. Irrespective of their chosen channel, customers expect all interactions to be joined up and frictionless. So, having a contact centre strategy that covers all instances is essential.

Some customers will favour video calling over voice

Increasingly, we’re going to see video calling utilised in the contact centre. We utilise applications such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype for video chat in our everyday lives, naturally it was only a matter of time before this became an expectation for a customer service option.

Pioneers of this technology include Schuh and their live help option, Kindle’s Mayday service and Durham City Council. Technology like WebRTC is an example of this evolving technology, enabling real-time video communication for the customer.

Busy public sector organisations particularly benefit from this emerging contact centre technology. For instance, housing associations could utilise video calling as an option when their customers have an issue with their house. Instead of the customer just describing the issue, they would be able to provide a live feed to staff in the contact centre, so they can easily determine which service is needed to fix the issue.

Omni-Channel crucial for delivering a top-class customer experience

An Omni-Channel call centre strategy means that a seamless customer experience is delivered across all types of communication. It takes the customer through a series of touchpoints on their journey from online, to store, to purchasing and delivery. The ability to pivot at ease across different media channels when in live contact means customer service is immaculate.

Cloud technology means it’s never been easier to integrate channels and create an Omni-Channel strategy.

Personalisation in real-time to bolster engagement

It’s becoming more important for businesses to personalise their communications in real-time. To connect customers with your organisation in the right way.

This means providing content that relevant to their specific persona and delivering it in a way that the customer wants to be communicated with. Intelligent call-based routing in the contact centre, using CRM records and intuitive self-service options means customers can connect to the right people and services they need to speak with, at the right time.

Showing some emotion

It’s important to remember, the role of emotion in communication. If you haven’t had a good experience with a business, you expect to be treated with empathy by the customer service representative. Using emotional intelligence to help understand the sentiment of the customer is increasingly going to factor into the customer experience. Whichever channel that’s being used, improving what is done with the tone of voice used and the content of a conversation will help understand why and how the customer more than whether the customer is just angry or very happy about the service they have received.

Taking the time to just ask the customer what they thought was good or bad about their experience during a call will offer more value than post call surveys that use a mathematics that the customer doesn’t understand. Giving the customer a chance to provide some contextual data at the point of whichever emotions they are feeling.

A simplified desktop

The contact centre of the future will also have a reduced number of applications, from front to back. So that customers and staff are presented with the exact information they need, as and when they need it.

There’s a need to integrate and orchestrate solutions to improve efficiency and user experience. Ridding the business of clutter and clunky systems. It’s key for the contact centre to be a customer experience powerhouse. The orchestration layer diagram below shows how this infrastructure makes for seamless customer experience.

The Orchestration Layer

Self-service will become more prolific

Increasingly, companies are enabling their customers to self-serve. Portals and dashboards mean customers are able to complete transactions and find out particular information without the help of the contact centre.

With ease, this means customers are able to manage their billing, raise support tickets and report any issues without having to utilise the contact centre. This gives customers visibility and the power to manage their transactions. Resulting in less calls to the contact centre for tasks the customer can complete themselves.

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