In some ways, the contact center model hasn’t changed in years. Customers call. Agents answer. Hopefully, questions are answered correctly and courteously, while problems are resolved quickly and efficiently.
The overall purpose of the contact center is to facilitate customer contact, whether the center’s goal is to sell products or provide customer support. And while that remains the same, new trends are changing the way contact centers handle their customers. We’ve put together a list of the top five trends shaping the contact center industry below.
- Mobile service is growing. Customers are now doing everything from banking to shopping to making large purchases on their mobile devices, and they expect to be able to engage with companies that way too. That’s why mobile apps, texting, social media, and email are becoming increasingly importantfor contact centers who want not just satisfied, but happy customers. Companies like AT&T have a mobile app that lets customers diagnose and fix many problems with their internet or TV connection on their own, with an option to schedule an appointment with a technician. Countless companies offer live webchat in addition to phone calls. Those companies who don’t wholeheartedly embrace mobile technology quickly—really quickly—will soon find that they’ve been left behind.
- Video support is becoming more popular. Live webchat is great, but live video chatting is better. At least, that’s what major companies like Bank of America, Target, and American Express are thinking—all of these and many more have been rolling out one-click access to video chat over the past two years, according to The L.A. Times. It’s a logical development in a web culture that’s becoming more and more personalized. With everything from the ads we see online to our Google searches being based on our personal preferences, it makes sense that customers want as much individualized contact as possible. And next to actual face-to-face interaction, virtual face-to-face interaction is the best way to achieve that.
- Call-back technology is going mainstream. Also known as virtual queuing, call-back technology is hardly new. But it’s only recently been seen as the smart solution that it is. With call-back technology, customers can forgo the potentially long hold times that everyone knows and dreads. Instead, they receive a call back from an agent within a few minutes. And this is good for the contact center, too—call-backs reduce abandonment rate, help improve average handle time, and can help manage spikes in volume.
- Omni-channel or cross-channel capabilities are becoming necessary. According to several studies, most customers use three or more channels when engaging with a company. That could be a phone call, texting, email, a tablet or mobile app, or visiting a website via a desktop computer. Customers are expecting to have a seamless experience across all channels. For example, let’s say you start shopping for shoes or clothing on your tablet, only to get distracted and forget to complete your purchase. When you log on to your desktop computer hours later, you remember what you were doing earlier. Instead of having to go to the website and find the specific item you want again, most of us would prefer—and expect—that the item be still there, in our virtual shopping cart, just waiting for us to hit “Place order.” The same is true for contact centers. If we log a complaint via email, and then place a call because the email response time is lagging, we’d expect our complaint to be logged into the system for the agent to see and respond to. But very often, that’s not the case. Instead, contact centers have us repeating the same information over and over. This means that the companies that can successfully implement omni-channel capabilities will come out way ahead.
- Live calls will decline. This goes hand-in-hand with the turn toward mobile technology and video chat. For most customers, placing a phone call is something of a last resort. If they have access to tools that will allow them to resolve the problem themselves, they will; and if they can’t do that, they’ll go online. This also means that calls that do come through will become more complex, necessitating more nuanced handling by agents.
The biggest takeaway for contact centers is that technology is becoming more and more a vital part of how they interact with customers. Without current, optimized software solutions, contact centers will be left far behind. Think your contact center is in need of a technology solution? Contact KOVA about our Enterprise Workforce Optimization and Management solutions like the Verint Media Recorder package or the Enterprise Feedback Management system.