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The Future of Contact Centers: Where Will Technology Take Us?

At a time where technology is changing at a rapid rate, the future becomes nearly impossible to accurately predict. The reality is that these technological advances have resulted in major changes to both customer and employee experience. 

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF CUSTOMER CARE LOOK LIKE?

We recently hosted a discussion at SOCAP Canada to collaborate with other thought leaders on this topic and determined some upcoming trends. 

TECH TOOLS

How can we leverage technology to make the jobs of our agents easier? When it comes to tech, the industry is moving very quickly. From CRM capabilities to messenger, chat, emails, texting, and beyond, the days of “call” centers are no longer. 

When we think about leveraging technology in contact centers, we can look at it in two different ways. First, there’s automation, which leverages bot technology to directly communicate with customers. This front end focus is being used more frequently today, and allows agents to focus on more complex conversations while bots handle simple interactions. The second concept is technology for the internal agent interface. With this solution, agents work more efficiently with the assistance of AI, and place a stronger emphasis on providing a personalized customer experience. 

The ongoing debate among contact centers is which form of technology should be focused on first. The answer? It depends. Both can be beneficial, and every company has a different way of leveraging technology to meet their goals. In our experience, we have focused on leveraging AI for the internal agent interface. We use our AI assistant, SIDD, to do the initial heavy lifting by pulling relevant information and drafting answers, which allows our agents to focus on personal interactions with customers. At the end of the day, leveraging AI can result in improvements not only for productivity and efficiency, but also for customer satisfaction. 

ATMOSPHERE

The impact of a technology shift can also result in huge changes to the way contact centers are physically laid out. There has been a significant shift toward more open concept spaces recently, with the idea of breaking down physical barriers and encouraging collaboration. 

Another trend is the introduction of wireless technology and wearables as well as voice recognition software. It’s possible that in the future we will do away with the typical keyboard and mouse set up completely, with all interactions leveraging touch screen capabilities and voice recognition. Imagine if agents never needed to type but rather spoke their responses for texts, chats and emails. This reality may not be too far off. We’re so used to smart assistants and voice automation with our personal devices, why not introduce them into our professional lives to simplify task completion. 

NAVIGATING THE OBSTACLE COURSE

As with any new implementation, there will definitely be obstacles to overcome when making technological changes. One key obstacle faced by contact centers across the industry is ensuring there is capacity to make these changes. This includes physical capabilities such as electricity and broadband network capabilities. As we move towards more mobile workstations, this technical infrastructure must be put in place to ensure there is enough power and wifi connection to handle all of the wireless devices.

In addition, if new devices or technology are introduced, there are training considerations to think about in order to ensure these devices are being used properly and leveraged to their full advantage. Whether this is video chat technology, keyboard-less tablets, voice recognition software, or anything in between, it’s important that agents are trained and ready to efficiently utilize the solutions.

Another obstacle is the overall corporate buy-in for the new environment. If the idea is to have agents untethering from a workstation with more roaming capabilities, considerations such as team size, scale, and whether there are dedicated brand areas or not, need to be discussed. If agents aren’t in a dedicated area, they may not have the ability to answer face-to-face video calls, and therefore dedicated resolution rooms may need to be created to allow for these interactions. 

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

As the contact center industry moves forward in this technological age, there are plenty of decisions to consider for the future. Throughout this decision-making process, customers must remain a primary focus: How do customers want to reach us? What types of services do they prefer? Contact centers need to be ready for what these customers want and be prepared to make changes in order to satisfy their needs. They also need to be ready to transform spaces and update processes to help agents feel satisfied and successful, whether this means untethered workspaces, wireless devices, new contact methods, or anything in between. 

The future of technology has a lot in store for contact centers. At the end of the day, what’s most important is to ensure that the contact center environment is technologically conducive to what customers and employees need to be happy and successful both now and in the future. 

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