By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)
This week Call Centre Helper shared some reader predictions about the future of the contact centre industry. The list of about 35 predictions gives great insight into the changing contact centre landscape from those involved in the industry. As I read through the list, three main themes caught my attention:
- Preferred support channels – The reign of voice as the most preferred support channel looks to be coming to an end. Whether viewed as a shift rooted in generational differences or powered by the growing availability and adoption of mobile devices, the rise in customers opting for channels such as mobile and social is very evident in these predictions. Call Centre Helper reader Marie foresees a decrease in calls and an increase in email, live chat and social media interactions. 2015 will also see a rise in the number of customers wanting to self-serve online. Organisations will not only need to have contact centres equipped to deal with customers reaching out to live agents through more channels, but also design their customer experience strategy to provide user-friendly self-service options that supply accurate information consistent with other contact channels.
- The role of voice calls – As customers increasingly turn to support channels other than phone, the role of voice in the customer journey will change. Customers will be picking up the telephone as a last resort or when their issue is too complex for them to self-serve on other channels. This means a couple of things for contact centres. First, voice agents will need to be highly-skilled experts capable of dealing with these complicated issues. Second, voice agents will need to have full visibility and understanding of the information callers will have likely already accessed via other channels, such as the website. Call Centre Helper reader Philip predicts that contact centres will start using virtual assistants. Natural language virtual assistants, also referred to as virtual agents or Smart Help solutions, address both of these points. They are already being successfully used in contact centres as training tools and easy-to-use solutions for live agents to instantly access information to assist callers. When backed by a flexible knowledge management platform, live agents can continuously improve the virtual assistant’s content with options to immediately flag and provide feedback on missing, incomplete or inaccurate information, which in turn improves the knowledge available to the entire contact centre team.
- Customer expectations – When it comes to customer service and support, customers expect nothing less than the best. As Call Centre Helper reader Nik points out, customers are better informed and more likely to switch to a competitor in the wake of a poor service experience than ever before. They expect accurate, consistent and personalised service across contact channels. Nik also predicts that Customer Effort will become the best measure of customer sentiment and loyalty. Having a frictionless, low-effort support journey is just as important to customers as having their issue resolved. By integrating engagement channels (for example, seamless escalation from virtual agent to live chat agent) organisations can avoid problem areas, such as forcing customers to repeatedly explain their issue, which add to customer effort and frustration. Addressing customer expectations for 24/7 access to support will be another important piece to the evolution of a successful contact centre.
While each contact centre will face its own unique set of challenges in 2015, changes in customer expectations and preferences will most certainly be powerful influencers for the industry. Call Centre Helper reader Simon sums this up well with his prediction:
“I also think that the organisation’s ability to deliver, manage and react to change will become paramount, especially as traditional change teams will not have the skills to deploy new channel capabilities.”
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