Evolving technology continues to bridge the gap between call centers and consumers in fascinating ways, though it’s up to companies to leverage the latest tools to maximize the quality of their customer experience.
As 2019 approaches, it’s time to look ahead to the coming year and assess how the call-center landscape will shift. Which trends will make an impact and enhance CX? What software / tools will empower businesses to gain an edge over the competition?
Here are five upcoming trends to watch out for.
1. Greater Dependance on Intelligent IVR
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) has been a staple of the call center industry for years, but the emergence of artificial intelligence is greatly improving how IVR performs. This is giving IVR even more of a role on the call center.
Advanced IVR systems help direct callers to the right outcome they’re looking for and facilitate a more personalized experience. Speech recognition will play a stronger role in IVR, allowing the system to identify the caller’s words and tone. This enables it to funnel them along to the respective department or a specific agent best-equipped to handle their query.
Rather than simply putting callers into a queue, 2019’s IVR systems will gather data from customers, enabling them to utilize specific interaction histories to route them as needed. Certain callers’ value to the company can determine their priority level and ensure they receive assistance from an agent who has dealt with them before.
2. Ongoing Advancement of Self-service Tools
Gartner predicts that consumers will manage 85 percent of the relationship between themselves and a business without interacting with a single human by 2020.
Self-service tools make this increasingly likely. While we’re all familiar with FAQs, additional self-service content is vital to help customers receive the help they need in a straightforward process. A library of tutorial videos, chatbots / virtual agents, troubleshooting pages, flowcharts and more should all be available to give customers more independence in solving issues.
Convenience is continually a priority for consumers: we want, and expect, great service at any time, any place. The prospect of reaching out to a customer service department is generally viewed as a last resort, and innovative call centers will offer comprehensive online alternatives alongside live agents.
3. Analytics Software Drives More Data-Based, Adaptive Management
More call centers are, and will continue to, embrace analytics tools to keep improving their services. Monitoring the entirety of a center’s performance based on real data is key to identify the needs of callers and keep delivering the quality of service expected.
Usage stats, customer feedback, the number of calls handled, hold times, calls resolved and more are all beneficial to refining service. Using quality assurance software to measure performance is a growing trend too, with custom scorecards especially helpful. These allow call centers to measure agents’ interactions according to different criteria, identifying areas demanding greater attention.
It’s vital to gather direct feedback from customers too, such as conducting brief surveys following calls (though there are multiple options to try); this can all feed into your analytics data. Managers will need to keep adapting processes to integrate changes based on studying analytics, predicting consumer behavior and refining services to suit demand.
4. More Emphasis on Cloud Communications and Remote Service
Call centers can save money by reducing their in-house workforce, eliminating the overheads that come with that. More companies will leverage cloud communications and project-management software to facilitate agents working remotely.
The traditional office-based call center is no longer necessary, in the strictest sense. Yes, there are obvious managerial benefits to having a team of agents working side-by-side in a formal setting, but they can still access the tools they need from home easily.
Cloud-based databases, documents, video chat, live chat, real-time messaging, analytics software and collaboration tools will all enable more remote agents to engage with consumers just as they would at the office in 2019 (and beyond).
Companies can then expand their call centers and employ more agents, catering to growing demand. This opens up a bigger talent pool, providing access to the most qualified agents for the job rather than just those based locally to the call center.
5. Omni-channel Communication is the Norm
Research by Google demonstrates that 90 percent of people owning multiple devices switch from one to the other to complete certain tasks, employing as many as three each day on average. We’re dependent on our phones, our tablets and our laptops to stay connected for business and leisure.
Call centers in 2019 will have to deliver seamless omni-channel service to maximize convenience and personalization. Customers don’t want to have to keep repeating themselves and relating an interaction they had with another agent through a different channel (email, phone, live chat, Facebook etc.); they want the agent they’re dealing with to know their interaction history and resolve their issue with minimal hassle.
It’s essential to adopt a unified service, giving agents streamlined access to customer details pulled from all communication channels. More call centers will take this approach in the coming year and cater to consumers with a consistent level of service.
There’s no excuse for any call center to deliver poor service anymore, not with so many outstanding tech solutions available — and it just keeps getting better and better. It’s an exciting time for forward-thinking call centers, and the five trends explored above have the potential to keep improving the customer experience in all respects.
It is an exciting time for the call center, especially thanks to artificial intelligence.