Contact Center Technology Trends for 2021 and Beyond
Over the past year, new trends in contact centers and communication have changed to fit the needs and challenges of the business space (and the world in general). The COVID-19 pandemic caused many realizations about how things can operate, including emphasizing remote work, greater customer service expectations, and expectations among team members.
These challenges, however, were able to present an opportunity to learn and stay on top of the current trends and changes associated with industry standards and contact center metrics. Even with the best call center software, there is still room for improvement, and refinements are now readily available to help improve your business. Here, we outline some of the most significant contact center technology trends to watch in 2021 and beyond.
The Cloud Is In, and Physical Hardware Is Out
Cloud-based software can improve local service reliability and allow for faster upgrades and better functionality for the business itself. The cloud offers so much flexibility when it comes to managing your business and contact center. 2020 forced many companies to transition out of their physical work environment to working from home. Companies that were already implementing the cloud had an overall seamless transition. Those who were still using physical hardware didn’t have as easy of a time.
Contact centers that transition to the cloud quickly see the benefits it can provide, including business agility, business continuity, improved security, enhanced productivity, and better agent experiences. Using the cloud can also allow users to personalize their experience. Customers and employees want each interaction to fit them and their specific wants and needs — with flexibility, scalability, and portability on their terms, no matter the size or complexity of their business.
In 2021 and beyond, expect to see cloud-based customizations that allow users to buy and activate the best features. The customer service landscape is changing faster than ever. There is no longer a need to have a physical “home base” for a contact center. Team members can work from wherever and can work whenever they need to. Customers need on-demand, 24/7 support, and remote work allows this to happen with much more accessibility than ever before.
Cloud VOIP systems, live chat software, video consultation, asynchronous messaging, SMS service lines, and so on are popular technology trends that can take care of customers’ needs from a safe distance. This remote working option provides companies the opportunity to hire more talented team members, includes time-zone flexibility, and can save money when it comes to infrastructure and IT.
AI Is Here to Stay
Contact centers are now able to use automatic and semi-automatic communication tools to assist customers better. These AI functions can streamline previously tedious tasks and get customers to the correct department or person who can better assist them. It also enhances the user experience through improved speed in reasoning and incredible accuracy.
Along with this, conversational AI-powered chatbots are becoming increasingly popular. These robots are programmed using natural language processing, so they can interpret customers’ requests and respond with natural-sounding dialogue to resolve the issue.
Customers would often prefer to use this kind of self-service option to find a solution to their problem if the option is available. Consumers place a high value on convenience and independence when it comes to solving issues as they arise. The primary benefit of this AI self-service solution is that it frees up agents to deal with more complex customer problems.
On the employee side of things, AI has introduced many “behind the scenes” benefits as well. For example, it has saved call center supervisors 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.
As AI tools continue to evolve, they hold great promise for contact centers. One exciting technology that’s emerging is sentiment analysis, which helps to determine the emotions behind an interaction. Implementing sentiment analysis will provide additional insights that guide interventions with customers. For example, if sentiment analysis indicates that someone is getting frustrated with a chatbot or during a call with an agent, the conversation can automatically be routed to a person or a higher tier agent respectfully.
Quality Assurance Technology Takes Center Stage
It is no longer necessary for one supervisor to juggle oversight of customer service, satisfaction, productivity, performance, and more, for all of the team members. While this observation and monitoring are beneficial, there is far more information that your contact center needs to improve how your call center runs.
The cloud and other AI implementations offer advanced analytics, provided in real-time, which can quickly and easily adjust to changes or needs as you need them. When this technology is used correctly, it makes it easy to track both hard and soft gains so that you can improve agent attrition, increase sales, reduce customer churn, reduce debtor days, increase agent engagement, and enhance training effectiveness.
With the right quality assurance technology, you should track, manage, and improve agent performance; training success, failure, and needs; operational efficiency; internal and external collaboration; customer experience, and call center alignment with business goals. The goal of implementing these technologies should be to showcase positive (and negative) patterns, create plans, highlight trends, and learn to make educated business decisions based on quality and real-time data.
Social Media Carries More Weight
While already frequently used, social media is becoming even more popular because of its ease of use, interconnectedness, accessibility, and more. It has become a necessary and inseparable part of the communication system. Customers are also able to connect with businesses for quick support.
Social media platforms are more than just consumers talking about an organization--they provide a means of talking to the organization. Some companies have even started to make conversations between customers and the organization public. Thus, potential customers can see how the brand solved a problem. As a result, it has been easy to demonstrate brand intelligence and care when resolving customer issues.
This implementation should be a part of a larger plan of making communications easier and convenient. People interact with each other on social media, so it makes sense that it would be beneficial to create positive business relationships and connections.
As customer expectations continue to shift, it is more important than ever to stay on top of trends, adapt quickly, and listen to the wants and needs of your customers. An excellent starting point for adapting to these changes would be to take advantage of the opportunities presented by new and emerging technology. When implemented strategically and correctly, these trends will reduce costs and promote smooth, straightforward internal processes. Most importantly, they will help deliver the consistent and customized experience your customers deserve and demand.