Technological innovations have been leapfrogging and we humans are racing to catch up. It looks like 2017 is not going to be any different for most businesses, including contact centers or call centers. So, what are the trends at the forefront and looks promising?
The other day there was a loud party going on in the neighbourhood playground. The noise was deafening, and we wished there was some way we could get the organizers to turn down the volume without dialling 100 or 911. And so we took to social media through our phones, and lo, the police department does have a twitter handle and a Facebook page that gives us the call option or the message option!
That brings us to the first of the trends that we think will dominate in 2017.
Omnichannel combines different modes or media of communication to give the consumer or customer a seamless experience of connectivity with customer services. Unlike in a multichannel, where we connect to customer services through unrelated, different channels, here the connectedness of the different media makes interaction super easy. The idea and infrastructure for Omnichannel has been around for a couple of years, but it is only recently that smart phones and data connections have taken off with more and more people taking to browsing the Internet via the mobile phone rather than a desktop or laptop.
When the noise levels at the party we mentioned above had hit unbearable decibel levels and the windows of our office room were vibrating alarmingly, we were initially wishing that there was some mechanism that would allow us to block the noise or reduce it ourselves without having to resort to the legal or state mechanism. And that brings us to the next trend for 2017.
Speaking to a customer service executive is useful, but we do not need the personal touch for every little obstacle that we face. If there was an adequate FAQ sheet or automated intelligent response service like the SIRI in iPhone, we would be more than happy to take that route. After all, a dedicated contact center personnel is not required when our computers require a reboot or need to be re-installed with the latest version of Windows if there is a one-touch button that does it for us with instructions on how to get the process started.
When we came across the Facebook page of the city police department, we were happy. But, we also had to trawl through a number of photos and pages before we located the send message button. And we move on to trend number three.
- Up-to-Date Social Media Page
Contact centers and businesses need to have a social media page. However, it is not enough that you have a page that looks the same through summer and winter. You need to assign personnel to keep the page state-of-the-art, and also have links that will help the customer connect to you. When somebody messages a query, it needs to be answered promptly and the issue resolved with speed.
When the party ruckus was going on, one of the dilemmas we faced with was who to actually contact - the regular police, the traffic police or some other authority that deals with community policing.
- Cross Agent Training
When we call the customer service desk for support we expect the first agent we contact or at the most, the agent at the second tier to be able to help us. Having to report our difficulty to a third, fourth or fifth agents because the first agents are not competent, do not have the authority or expertise to deal with the problem at hand taxes the patience of the customer. Hence it would be good practice for contact centers to train their agents in multiple tasks/niches and give them access to more data regarding a customer.
We were wondering how the police department would be dealing with the hundreds of queries that came their way through their various social media handle. What would be the backend software and hardware that they depended upon? That is the next trend for contact centers.
- Legacy Systems or Cloud-Based Centers?
Cloud-based centers are the current trend for not just contact centers but also for other IT based firms. This is not a completely new trend, but it is poised to become even more popular than it was a few years ago. Cloud-based services provide adaptability, flexibility and allow you to incorporate your legacy systems with a few tweaks onto the new platform without investing in physical space that you can ill afford.
These are some of the contact center trends that we think will take off spectacularly in 2017. And coming back to the loud party, luckily for us, the organizers wound down the party five minutes before 10 P.M. bringing back blessed peace, and thus sparing us the task of contacting any legal authority.