By: Nestor Gilbert | Finances online | https://financesonline.com/call-center-trends/
When a sound call center strategy is meticulously executed service levels increase, customer satisfaction improves, and turnaround time for sales is reduced. But with new call center trends driving the shifting landscape, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to reap these call center benefits.
Surprisingly, even the best call center software isn’t enough to refine your call center service nowadays. A lot is happening in this field, and unless you endeavor to stay ahead of the park, excellent call center service will remain elusive.
In this post, we’ve culled the most dominant trends that we predict will continue making a significant impact on call center service. Having a deep understanding of these trends will help you realign your strategy to deliver the customer experience your callers expect.
Center Trends Table of Contents
AI is no longer a noveltyAnalytics the driving forceOmnichannel communication the new normAdvanced self-service toolsIncreased adoption of recall technologyDigital TransformationSocial media communication taking the front rowCloud communication centersIVR Isn’t Going AnywhereRobust customer satisfaction measurement
What do customers expect from customer service?
Customer service can make or break your business: this fact thrives at the forefront of nearly every business leader’s mind. As a result, many businesses have placed excellent customer service as a top strategic priority, while others are already using it as a competitive advantage. Business owners are setting aside huge budgets to procure the best customer support software tools.
But even so, going above and beyond to keep customers happy and satisfied is an arduous challenge these days. Why? Because it’s a big, crowded, and uncertain marketplace out there exemplified by constantly changing customer expectations. Customers are now the focal point of customer service but unfortunately, their expectation keeps changing.
Consumers want personalized and consistent customer experience. In fact, 73% of customers will walk away from your brand if they don’t get a consistent experience across all touchpoints. Even worse, consumers no longer compare you to your direct competition. Rather, they weigh the level of your customer service against the best experience they have ever had.
Moreover, customers know what excellent customer service looks like and expect you to deliver just that. Meet this expectation and tap into rewards of referrals, repeat business, and higher revenue. But to reach this height, you first need to rethink the overall customer service, starting with your call center.
You need to install the best call center technology, change the dynamics of work in the call center, and hire well-versed agents. However, change need not be misguided. For this reason, studying call center statistics and trends should precede every move you make.
1. AI is no longer a novelty
There is no doubt the disruptive power of technology has had a hand in nearly every change in the call center space. The speed of innovation has been frenetic, and new call center solutions have been coming thick and fast. One of the latest technologies to enter this field is artificial intelligence (AI).
AI has brought multiple, behind-the-scene benefits to call centers. For example, it has saved call center managers the long hours of coding elaborate call routing algorithms. With AI-based applications, businesses can now route conversations to the “most qualified” agent without keeping the caller in wait.
Additionally, the infusion of AI into conversations has kindled a revolution in terms of enhancing agents’ efficiency. AI application assimilates information over time and creates patterns that can be addressed with ease. For example, when a customer calls and launches a complain, the predictive power of AI takes over, giving the agent multiple possible responses. Then, the agent can choose a suitable response or disregard them altogether if they make no sense.
Most importantly, AI brings the consistency that customers crave. Today, when a customer calls, AI-based systems aggregates all information about the caller and presents it to the agent in a flash. This way, call center agents can handle the customer’s issues faster, accurately, and more efficiently.
AI has clearly found a place in call centers. The race to hone and spew out AI solutions that streamline call center operation is on high gear. We expect AI call center trends to continue making significant contributions in terms of digitizing call centers. Also, it’s too early to predict, but 2020 might be the year AI becomes ready to be customer-facing.
Key AI in Call Center Trend Takeaways
The role of AI in the current call center environment is unavoidable. Businesses need to investigate and adopt AI options that benefit their call center operations.The use of AI applications streamlines the call center experiences.AI in the call center will soon be ready to be customer-facing.
2. Analytics the driving force
Traditionally, call centers relied heavily on the skill and acumen of the manager to boost the productivity and performance of agents. However, in today’s data-driven world, this strategy is easily overtaken by events. There is a paradigm shift in the way call centers drive adaptive management to improve their customer services and boost performance.
As you know, the call center is a bastion of interactions between a business and its customers. These interactions churn out data that can be analyzed to derive insights into agent productivity and consumer behaviors. Metrics like first call resolution, average handling time and agent idle time have been the epicenter of attention for call center leaders now.
More call centers are using robust data analytics tools for small businesses to turn these metrics into meaningful feedback that abridge decision making. Besides, the use of quality assurance software to measure call center performance is now more widespread, with custom scorecards mainly relevant.
In general, the tables are turning and the use of analytics is gradually becoming the driving force. As a result, omnichannel call centers are on the fore using analytics solutions to add dashboards that summarize statistics affecting their businesses. Better still, these statistical dashboards are becoming permanent fixtures on user interfaces for call agents and managers.
3. Omnichannel communication the new norm
Omnichannel communication is not an entirely new trend. The trend has grown over the years and today it is the mark of supremacy that sets apart proactive brands from the reactive competitors. So, how important is omnichannel communication?
Today, nearly all consumers own more than one device. Furthermore, consumers hate being confined to one touchpoint or communications channel. They crave the freedom to interact with a brand anywhere: on social media, live chat, calls, SMS messages, and more. Above all, customers demand a personalized and consistent experience regardless of the channel they use — this where omnichannel communication comes in handy.
Omnichannel communication tact is all about unifying customer communications to standardize service delivery. It’s a way of centralizing and optimizing customer interactions to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across devices and channels. A well-orchestrated omnichannel approach enables customers to navigate between a business’ touchpoints with ease.
On the other hand, it helps businesses better understand their consumers. When combined, these factors help resolve customer issues quickly. For example, when a customer resumes previous interactions, it’s easy for agents to pull up the relevant information about that customer. As a result, the customer won’t be compelled to repeat their concerns, and the agent will be in a better position to solve the issue quickly.
More call centers will adopt the omnichannel communication strategy in the coming year. Don’t wait until it’s too late to jump the bandwagon.
Key Omnichannel Communication Trends Takeaways
Omnichannel communication is the way to personalized customer experiences.Modern customers like interacting with brands anywhere, anytime, on any device.Omnichannel communication helps customers navigate between multiple channels with ease.
4. Advanced self-service tools
Research shows that 40% of consumers contact a call center after they have exhausted the available self-service options. On the other hand, 91% of consumers say they would use an online knowledgebase if it was available and tied to their needs. (Zendesk)
These stats prove just how important a self-service is to consumers. The importance of customer service isn’t waning. Rather, self-service is increasingly becoming the customer service method of choice. Consumers have developed a deep proclivity towards convenience and independence in solving their issues. And self-service tools deliver exactly that.
On the other hand, customer self-service is beneficial to call center agents. But how? Well, consumers view a call center as a last resort. If they find clarifications or answers to quick questions on a company’s resources, then they won’t bother calling. This shortens the call queues. It saves time for agents allowing them to concentrate on solving complex issues.
The twofold benefits justify the zeal by call centers to advance the self-service resources. Self-assist options from FAQs and video tutorials to chatbots and virtual assistants will continue to garner support from consumers.
As 2020 approaches, the adoption of customer self-service tools will continue to soar. In this spirit, you should improve the available online self-service tools. Ideally, you need to tie the content of your FAQs, video tutorials, and troubleshooting pages to the most common customer issues.
5. Increased adoption of recall technology
Mistakes are part and parcel of the humankind, and call agents are no exception. Fortunately, with the strides made in technology, it’s possible to thwart communication errors from tainting your brand image.
Take recall technology, for example. Brands are implementing this technology in call centers to screen inaccurate or unwanted communications. With recall technology, it’s easy for call center agents to stop erroneous messages from reaching the consumers. Besides, when a mistake slips through the conversation, its quickly noticed and resolved promptly.
Recall technology is here to help call center maintain accuracy in every conversation. Even though it adds some minutes in the transmission time, it upholds conversation flow without negatively impacting customer satisfaction. Thus, its use in the call center is truly justified.
The arrival of recall technology represents a major milestone in the call center trends. Its advantages are as clear as day. And as experts advance this innovation, more call centers want to be tuned in to the progress.
6. Digital Transformation
For long, brands have used the price and quality of products or services to differentiate themselves from competitors. However, this tactic is no longer enough to woo customers to a brand. Today, consumers are on the lookout for something more. They are gravitating towards businesses offering satisfying experiences that lead to longterm, beneficial relationships with the brand.
The complexity in consumer demands means that brands need to overhaul their customer interaction strategy. Primarily, there is a need to handle consumer interaction as part of the big picture, rather than as standalone activity. This means digital transformation has a pivotal role to play in the call center environment.
To deliver consistent and comprehensive experience, the call center needs the combined efforts of other departments. Because of this, a far-sighted digital transformation strategy is requisite. Thankfully, technological innovations like unified omnichannel and machine-to-machine through IoT are calling the tune in the arena.
The pioneers of this trend have integrated these innovations across the board to get better customer connections with each interaction. Besides, the use of unified communication and collaboration (UCC) like team collaboration tools has enabled early adopters to leverage the collective knowledge of the entire business. This way, it has been easy to deliver excellent customer services across different channels more consistently.
So, what are you waiting for? Digital transformation is a timely idea that you need to take advantage of early on. The trend is no longer in the novelty phase, and going by its stimulus, it’s going to persist for years to come.
7. Social media engagement taking the front row
Time and again, customer experience experts have mentioned how social media is pulling strings in customer service. Social media platforms have become an indispensable touchpoint for brands and customers. In fact, 63% of consumers today expect a brand to offer customer service through social media channels (Smart Insights)
Social media is growing exponentially; actually, in 2018 the global mobile social media users count stood at 3.3 billion. (Statista) The best is yet to come, and brands are well aware of this fact. For this reason, many have put their best foot forward in crafting strategies that improve call centers within the social media context.
Sharing witty posts or beguiling images pique the interest of consumers. But, consumers seem to have taken their demands a notch higher. Consumers nowadays look at social media as a feasible channel to connect with their favorite brands. Because of this, when they share complains or feedback, they are looking to ignite relevant two-way conversations.
The changing mindset of the consumer about the use of social media has dawned upon brands. Social media is now becoming an inseparable part of the unified communication system. Brands are all out to enhance responsiveness and expediency of social media service. In particular, two-way social media conversations are taking center stage in the call center service.
Some brands have gone a step further by making two-way conversations public. Thus, potential customers can see how the brand solved a problem. As a result, it has been easy to gallantly demonstrate brand intelligence and care when it comes to resolving customer issues.
This arguably one of the call center future trends. Keep your eyes on this one to see how it pans out in 2020 and beyond.
8. Cloud communication in call centers
For long, businesses have been using cloud communication as part of wider communication strategies. However, the idea of cloud communications in call centers was unfathomable, until recently. The steady growth of remote call agents and the proliferation of project management platforms have paved the way for cloud communication in call centers.
Today, brands are putting up cloud-based platforms that enable remote agents to interact with consumers in the same way they would in location-based centers. The benefits that come with such an arrangement are too alluring for brands to resist.
For example, cloud-based platforms enable businesses to cut the number of inhouse agents and overheads. At the same time, the strategy makes it easy to hire the best talent, regardless of their location in the world. Thus, there is timezone flexibility. Even better, businesses don’t have to allocate huge amounts of funds on infrastructure and IT.
Most importantly, cloud-based call centers give brands the flexibility and agility to serve more customers. In the wake of these benefits, we anticipate this trend to continue shaping up the way the call center operates in 2019 and beyond.
9. IVR isn’t going anywhere
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is inarguably one of the earliest call center automation trends. Call centers have used IVR for years now, and it seems the technology is not ready for the exit yet. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has enlivened IVR technology. In fact, the IVR + AI combination has given birth to advanced IVR systems with more substantial roles in modern call centers.
AI has pioneered the use of speech recognition in IVR. As a result, call centers can easily route callers to relevant agents or departments. This way, customers get help from an agent who is best equipped to resolve their issues. Besides, with AI, IVR systems pull up relevant information and historical data from customer’s history enabling agents to deliver personalized experiences.
10. Robust customer satisfaction measurement
Future thinking businesses hold dear the satisfaction of their customers. As a result, many have put in place mechanisms to collect and analyze customer satisfaction levels. The primary data used to measure this metric is remitted by customers at the touchpoints.
Brands are altering how they measure customer satisfaction. Instead of doing as a per channel activity or doing it their way, the use of all-in-one strategy is becoming universal. The Negative Responsive Rate (NRR) by Amazon is holding steady in calculating call center customer satisfaction. Although the trend is at its juvenile stage, we anticipate significant progress to be made in the coming years.
Stay Ahead of Change in Call Center
Competition in the call center space will only get stiffer. The trends we’ve highlighted should at least give you a hint of how things will pan out. To crack call center service in 2019 and the years to come, you need to figure out how to align your business with these trends.
You need to evolve in the use of emerging call center technology trends like AI, advanced IVR, and recall innovations. Als, if you have not adopted cloud communication, time is ripe to give this innovation a try. Better still, you should make the use of omnichannel communication and advanced self-service tools a top priority.
When implemented strategically, these trends will reduce costs and streamline the internal process. Above all, they will help you deliver the consistent and personalized experience your callers demand.
All that said, you need to install a robust call center software to open the door for these trends and benefits. There are many reliable solutions out there and we highly recommend starting with an affordable and feature-rich solution such as Genesys PureCloud. You can read our pros and cons of Genesys PureCloud guide to understand how the solution fits your call center needs.