Contact Centers in the Future: 5 Bets for the Next 5 Years

29. September 2017

Digital transformation and a radical customer focus are giving contact centers a powerful boost. Traditionally, the role of call centers was to deal with customer problems as cost-effectively as possible. However, the era of digital transformation means not only reacting to problems but actively participating in the customer journey and building the customer relationship.

Customer care has become perhaps the most important differentiator for many organisations: 72 percent say that improving customer experience is a top priority. As a direct interface to the customer, the contact center is the star of this massive shift to unprecedented, superior customer care.

1. Omni-Channel Customer Care

Do you still live in the multi-channel world or do you already have an omni-channel strategy? Are you wondering what the difference is between them? In the multi-channel approach of recent years, customers have been provided with as many contact options as possible, whether telephone, chat, WhatsApp, email or Facebook. However,, each channel was managed separately, and many organisations created a network of one-way communications.

With omni-channel customer care, it doesn’t matter which channel a customer uses to contact an organisation, the customer experience is constantly seamless. Looking at current trends, only 36 percent of contact centers are capable of tracking a customer journey that spans across channels. If we lose customers in their journeys and their customer care experiences are fragmented, we risk customer loyalty and ultimately, customer churn.

2. Customer Individualisation

When  81 percent of customers prefer to deal with their problems themselves rather than engage with customer care, it shows that individualisation is lacking. The motto is as follows: If the contact center agent does not answer my questions in a personal manner, I can just go directly to a self-service machine. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach for the masses are over. Customer individualisation is a pervasive theme that contact centers must address.

Whilst big data has been part of everyday business for some time, exceedingly few organisations manage to use this data for an individualised service experience in the contact center. Big data does reveal trends, yet context-related data such as customer preferences, location or service history is absolutely vital when providing an individual response to a customer request.

3. The Human-Machine Balance

There is hardly any other business area with a better interplay of machine and human intelligence than in the area of customer care. Whilst IBM, with its supercomputer Watson, assumes that AI will replace its human counterpart in many areas, contact centers will build scenarios where AI fills the gaps in human intelligence. The customer experience regularly suffers from missing information needed to answer a request, and AI will solve this in the future – quickly and reliably.

With the coming of AI, contact center agents will gain valuable time that they can then invest in even more intensive, human customer care that leads to an increase in customer loyalty and ultimately, stickier customer relationships.

4. Contact Centers Meet Cloud Services

Since cloud services have become the modus operandi for many organisations, the number of virtual contact center jobs is also increasing. Today, cloud solutions are the most popular technology for contact centers. Cloud-based agent jobs are expected to grow by over 20 percent annually in the coming years. This will then create the foundation for virtual contact centers, which will also offer a significant advantage for organisations:

As customer expectations increase, the role of contact center agents also grows, especially as AI takes over routine tasks and frees up agents to build relationships with customers. The fight for the best agents is decided upon by the best working conditions, and contact centers offering their agents flexibility in a virtual contact center will have the clear advantage.

5. Augmented Reality Becomes Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is on its way to the mass market and will become an essential part of everyday life. Pokémon Go was extraordinary in its global market penetration and only a small preview of what we will see in the years to come. We will understand the magnitude of AR when organisations use immersive experiences to improve customer care.

It will not be too long before AR-based customer services are the norm. Using Holoportation, customer care agents can be virtually present with the customer – personally, directly and until the customer is completely satisfied. As we prepare for the long term, organisations must begin to ready themselves now, and moving to cloud contact centers is the logical next step in the journey of digital transformation.

The Bottom Line

Excellent customer service is a real competitive advantage – we all know this. The call center as a place to solve problems has evolved into a contact center with the role of a relationship hub. Digital transformation means organisations must evolve traditional call centers into omni-channel contact centers. Take the next step to providing superior customer care and make the move to a cloud contact center service.