June 15, 2016

Talk the Talk: Top 2016 Contact Center Trends

Some tech pundits have argued for the demise of “traditional” customer support — that the shift away from handset phones and email questionnaires to mobile devices and on-demand assistance will inevitability sink this market. By extension, that should mean that the contact center is also under threat: Do companies really need a centralized point of communication for questions and concerns? However, the market is alive and well, and rather than demise, there’s a shift underway impacting customers and businesses; here’s a look at the top contact center trends for 2016.

Changing the Channel

As noted by Customer Think, 95 percent of consumers use more than one channel to communicate with companies. For example, a web request might turn into a phone call, or a customer may want to shift from social media to live online chat. As a result, contact centers must deploy hardware and software that simplifies these transitions and makes them appear seamless to outside observers. Consumers don’t want there to be a delay if they suddenly need to speak with a representative and they have no desire to re-explain their issue or concern. Omni-channel systems will become the expectation through 2016, and contact centers must be prepared to meet this need with tight integration of the contact center and the CRM.

Contact Center Services

Up next? The hosted contact center services. Consumers have no patience for “higher than normal call volumes,” even if that’s truly the case. Consider: Problems with a specific product or service have customers calling in droves to find satisfaction. Volumes are high, and wait times are long — even for electronic services. In a static contact center environment, this can quickly shift your problem from bad to worse — by adopting cloud-based infrastructure, however, it’s possible to spin up resources on demand, meet consumer requirements, and then scale back as needed.  Additionally, having a model that enables self-service, faster intelligent call routing, and the ability to engage the customer on the channel of their choice – will help alleviate the strain on the customer during times of high call volume.

Call Back Commitment

Of course, there are times customers prefer to speak with live representatives — and are often left frustrated by long wait times and uninformed staff. In 2016, contact centers will trend toward more agile callback systems that allow users to leave their phone number and have company reps call them back in a specified time frame. Taking this a step further is the ability to access customer history before making the call, so consumers don’t have to repeat their issue or worry they won’t be understood.

Everything New Is Old?

It’s worth asking the question: Is this all just a rehash of old contact center trends? Not in 2016. Cloud is the key; instead of piling on more services to an already-strapped hardware solution, the cloud lets contact centers expand at the rate required for the time needed without breaking the bank. Moving forward, these trends set the stage for further development rather than limiting flexibility. As mobile device use expands and consumer focus on social network-based communication increases, cloud-enabled contact centers are in the ideal position to adapt and overcome.

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