Today, digital solutions are rapidly changing the way consumers interact with businesses. Just look at the number of mobile devices that are glued to the hands of consumers everywhere. As consumer obsession with digital devices increases, the use of mobile apps as a means of communication between businesses and their customers will continue to skyrocket.
But with this mobile trend comes a new set of standards for businesses to meet and maintain in order to ensure customer satisfaction. A recent Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report issued by Microsoft states that 60 percent of consumers have higher expectations for customer service now than they did just one year ago. As the expectation for 24/7/365 convenient mobile communications spreads, call centers are becoming even more mission-critical for customer engagement.
On the brink of such change, many call centers across the nation are restructuring to meet these new standards of communication. In fact, many call centers have already adopted new technology, such as cloud-based, omni-channel communications in the past few years as a response to the changing expectations. As reported by ICMI, 86 percent of contact centers now offer multichannel support. Although the adoption of new technologies is helping to accommodate customer expectations, future models will expand technology far beyond today’s offerings. Criteria for a call center of the future will include support customization, a focus on chat, better recognition software and an increased focus on the remote workforce.
Just as a consumer desires choice between channels of communication, the future call center will introduce customization of support. For instance, a consumer initiating a conversation with a customer service representative would not only be able to choose between a variety of channels to use for the conversation (text, chat or audio), but would additionally be offered options for selecting a particular agent based on the agent’s level of expertise or problem-solving record. This next-generation level of support customization will significantly enhance the consumer experience, thereby increasing customer engagement.
Chat to De-throne Voice Interactions
A recent Contact Centers Outlook report performed by JLL Research found that non-voice channel revenues for contact centers in the United States have nearly doubled since 2011, growing by 91 percent. More consumers are turning to chat when communicating with call center agents, due to the convenience and flexibility it provides compared to voice interactions. As mobile technology further engrains the need for on-the-go communications, chat is sure to de-throne voice interaction as call center king in the not so distant future.
Improved Recognition Software
Over the course of the next five years, improvements in recognition software will not only enhance consumer experience and agent efficiency, but will save call centers a great deal of money. U.S. contact centers spend $12.4 billion each year verifying the identity of consumers calling in, as stated by ContactBabel. In addition to the expense of identifying consumers, 59 percent of calls into call centers require identity verification, which involves additional time and resources. Digital transformation will enable call centers to instantaneously confirm the identity of callers while providing recognition software at a lower cost.
Remote Call Center Agents
Just as digital technology is reshaping the consumer experience, it’s also influencing the involvement of call center agents. Advancements in technology are enabling call center agents to perform their job with a greater degree of efficiency and productivity, as well as creating flexibility in the workplace. As a result, more call center organizations are beginning to hire agents to work virtually from their homes. Salesforce reports that as of 2015, 70 percent of contact centers were planning to expand the use of virtual agents.
The crystal ball shows that the next few years will bring rapid change that will better serve customers, as well as the future mobile workforce.