The 9 Most Important Call Center Trends of 2019Michael Curran
We saw a lot of changes to the call center and customer experience landscape in 2018. Cloud communications and virtual agents were on the forefront of everyone’s minds, and social media was more important than ever. 2019 shaped up to be the year of strategic thinking: better analytics, more intentional social media conversations and innovative ways to involve artificial intelligence.
Earlier this year, Mitel identified nine technology trends that are helping companies deliver this kind of customer experience. Let’s take a look and see how far your business has come in building customer relationships that last – or which of these trends may need to be on the 2020 to-do list.
1. Artificial intelligence integrated into customer interactions
Businesses are getting deeper into predictive analytics, using artificial intelligence (AI) applications to help streamline call center experiences for customers and agents.
We are seeing that, as early adopters continue honing AI applications for call routing, AI will become more widely applied. We also expect to see more connections forged between various media channels and streamlined call center response. Given this, it’s worth investigating what contact center AI options might benefit your business.
2. Digital transformation
Businesses have always tried to differentiate themselves on price or product quality. Today, however, we’re seeing that customers are more frequently looking for something more: a rewarding experience that leads to a long-lasting relationship with a business. Customer interactions are no longer stand-alone activities, and customers are demanding a more comprehensive and consistent experience.
Digital transformation, the application of advanced technologies that have completely restructured the modern business environment, is a big part of this. With advancements like unified omnichannel communications and machine-to-machine communications via the Internet of Things (IoT), a forward-looking digital transformation strategy is going to be key for businesses who want to stay competitive.
What should that strategy include? Businesses need to consider the whole of the customer experience: a truly digital contact center redefines the customer experience from start to finish. And it’s not just about using the right channels to interact with customers where they are; the smartest businesses (of all sizes) are integrating technologies to provide full customer context with each interaction and leveraging system data to provide proactive service. Further, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools, like team collaboration applications, will be strategically important for contact centers, because they enable employees to leverage the collective intelligence of the whole business. Vendors that offer applications with open APIs provide new levels of customization and integration to help deliver a truly seamless customer experience.
3. Better contact center analytics
Gone are the days of relying on supervisor skill and know-how to get the most out of a contact center agent. Now, even smaller businesses are taking advantage of sophisticated analytics to turn data – like call and screen recordings, chats, SMS messages and more – into truly useful feedback for their agents.
It’s not enough to rely on manual observation and monitoring, as there’s just too much information.
More omnichannel call centers are starting to rely heavily on analytics programs to build dashboards with the statistics that affect their businesses. We saw more and more businesses display this kind of statistical dashboards on user interfaces, so call agents and managers are getting real-time updates on customer experiences.
In general, we expect more advancements in analytics as companies continue to implement more unified communications platforms and strategies.
4. Omnichannel communications for all
A huge hot button in previous years, omnichannel communications has continued to separate proactive businesses from their more reactive counterparts in 2019. A holistic view of the customer experience, factoring in an omnichannel approach, has so far helped businesses give customers a more personal feel to resolutions.
More businesses are recognizing that while a customer journey may begin on one channel, valuable insight and feedback from the customer is taking place on a completely different channel.
Unifying customer communications across channels gives businesses better context for their customers, helps resolve issues more quickly and helps sales agents identify better opportunities for future sales.
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5. Widespread adoption of cloud communications in call centers
Many businesses have already adopted cloud communications as part of their communications strategies, but cloud communications has become particularly important for contact centers. The steady increase in remote call agents has made cloud communications a necessity for businesses who want to take advantage of seamless team communications and collaboration. With cloud communications, traditional office-based contact centers can take on new locations, grow and contract workforces as market needs demand it.
Moving to the cloud also doesn’t have to happen all at once. Vendors that offer hybrid cloud options can help you phase your organization into the cloud at your own speed or create a tailored architecture that leverages the best of multiple deployment models based on your business needs. For example, a contact center with an on-premises solution could implement a cloud-based webchat system, without needing to completely reinvest in infrastructure up front.
6. More robust customer satisfaction measurements
Customer satisfaction sends huge signals to companies about where and how their businesses could improve. Businesses approach customer satisfaction measurement in different ways, but the slick all-in-one approach seems to be holding steady.
In 2019, Amazon’s cornerstone Negative Response Rate (NRR) strategy has continued to be a major part in calculating contact center customer satisfaction in 2019. No matter which measurements businesses are using, however, special care needs to be taken when addressing the customer experience across digital channels.
Using effective reporting and analytics tools that are integrated with your communications systems makes this process automatic and valuable.
7. More remote call center agents
Lower overhead, time zone flexibility, and flexible working hours have made remote contact center workers a stable trend in 2019. With constantly improving unified cloud communications, remote workers have become a permanent (and beneficial) part of the contact center environment. By using collaboration tools, contact center agents can be mobile, with access to real-time analytics and customer context.
8. Continued emphasis on self-serve documentation
So far, we’ve seen a greater emphasis on self-service problem-solving information on business websites. Giving customers information quickly helps reduce call volumes, and easy-to-navigate FAQs help narrow down calls to those with sufficiently complex issues. Quick access to self-serve solutions also provides an emotional benefit to customers (that DIY-fix high!), and reduces overall call times.
9. Two-way social media conversations
An effective social media presence is a necessity. Customers want a place they can go to give quick feedback and learn about their favorite businesses. But the way businesses approach their social media conversations is changing.
It’s not enough to make witty posts or share images. Customers are looking for a two-way social media conversation, and when they interact with businesses online, they expect a personalized (and immediate) response.
Responsive businesses are using this trend to create a superb customer experience by unifying communications across channels into one stream. This helps their customers by connecting them with an agent who knows their purchase and service history and provides valuable context. Most importantly, the two-way conversation is public on a social media platform, so other customers can see how the business solved the problem.
Negative feedback can be killer online, and unanswered negative comments make potential customers wary. If you positively resolve issues quickly and in a way that makes it clear the customer is central to the conversation, it leaves your business looking intelligent, caring and motivated by the customer experience.
Call center and customer experience trends to activate
These nine trends have already made an impact on the contact center landscape in 2019. Did your contact center implement any of these? Better yet, are they working for you? If you need more help figuring out how to apply them to your business, get on a more strategic footing with our contact center solutions.
This article was first published by Mitel.