Most of the customer service trends you’ll see steadily on the rise this year are ones you’re probably already familiar with. As you might expect, they involve two very important factors: efficiency and quickness.

Getting the job done correctly is essential, but doing it in less and less time is the name of the game.

According to research by Customer Think, the average hold time is 56 seconds. While 43 percent of Americans are willing to hold for one to five minutes, just 39 percent can wait up to 10 minutes. Take any more time than that, and you can say goodbye to that business since one-third of callers who hang up don’t call back.

1. On-Demand Services

One incoming trend from 2016 is more convenient, on-demand platforms. Since companies began implementing this type of service, customers have overwhelmingly responded in favor of the immediate gratification offered through on-demand platforms, since their answers can be given via email, text, phone, and more.

2. Cloud-Based Contact Centers

The cloud-based contact center industry is projected to increase threefold between now and 2021. Why? For starters, it’s more efficient, but it also includes global scalability and increased data security, which is now another top concern. So if you haven’t moved to the cloud as of yet, begin considering it now — your relocation there is, after all, inevitable.

3. Virtual Agents

Virtual agent technology has become more and more simplified, so it’s easier than ever for contact centers to offer this as an employment option. Not only can the actual day-to-day work be done remotely, but training and feedback can as well.

In fact, trends indicate that in a few years, one out of every three agents will work from home. If you haven’t started incorporating virtual agents into your workforce, it may be something to consider. Not only does doing so reduce your overhead costs, but by taking advantage of time zones, you can extend your business hours to a 24-hour schedule.

4. Social Media Customer Service

In a world where even the President’s preferred form of communication is Twitter, the natural direction of customer service continues to move to social media.

Platforms like Twitter often provide that on-demand customer service experience so essential for contact centers. Social media not only provides a trendy mode of contact, but it’s also essential in establishing a contact center’s web presence. It’s not that social media is anything new, but the way businesses approach a social media conversation is changing.

Customers are looking for two-way personal engagement via social media, and businesses are responding by streamlining communications across several channels. By doing so, they’re connected with an agent familiar with the customer’s service and purchase history so they can provide valuable contest. The bonus? Social media conversations are public, so this provides an opportunity to let the world, a.k.a future clients, know how you treat your customers and value their business.

5. Call Recording

Call recording software has been an established part of the contact center experience for decades, used mainly as a way to monitor agents’ performance.

However, other uses are expected to trend this year that provide better mentoring and training to agents. For call centers to stay competitive, they should implement an up-to-date quality management feature that allow supervisors to quietly listen in on conversations between agents and callers.

While we won’t see any drastic changes in the way contact centers handle their customers this year, we will see continued, steady growth in the direction of self-service and omnichannel service. To learn more about how your contact center can expand its omnichannel offerings, read our post “Omnichannel Customer Service Should Span the Physical and Virtual Worlds.”

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