Today's businesses are realizing that the overall customer experience is more important than ever and that a complete customer profile can make all the difference when agents are interacting with customers. Because of this increased attention to the customer experience, more and more businesses are viewing the contact center as a crucial customer relationship hub as opposed to just a standard business channel. Savvy brands are recognizing the number of advantages offered by today's contact center solutions, and are investing in new technologies and features to enhance their operations, workflows, and workforce. From contact center analytics and business app integration to automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), these unique contact center technologies and solutions have helped to shape 2017, making it a dynamic year for the contact center.
With 2018 just around the corner, many are beginning to wonder what lies ahead for the contact center. Darrin Bird, the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President at TCN Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based call center technology for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs and collection agencies worldwide, shared with VoIPReview.org his predictions and insights on the top trends that will impact the contact center space in 2018.
Voice will remain king
Today’s contact centers have gone beyond offering voice-only support to customers; they have now enabled various contact methods, including business SMS, MMS, email, chat, voicemail, and even social media, to interact with customers. But when the dust settles, Bird believes that when given the option, consumers will still prefer a phone call.
Automation and Business Intelligence will be an immediate focus
Bird also sees “a huge focus on reporting in 2018, with companies looking for faster ways to automate data and calculate ROI.” Contact centers are starting to leverage business intelligence to analyze business productivity and efficiency to improve their operations and Bird believes this will continue in the coming year. He cites payment processing as a prime example of using business intelligence and automation in the contact center. “Payments will be primarily handled by intelligent IVR systems, instead of agents, for faster, error-free transactions,” said Bird.
Adopting an omnichannel strategy will prove to be highly beneficial for contact centers. According to Brid, “Customer-contact center interactions are expected to be viewed as more favorable by customers in 2018, with the growth and utilization of non-intrusive, omnichannel features (i.e. SMS messages, voicemail drop, email, etc.)”.
Human interactions, AI and Automation will be tiered by CRM
The rise of automation and AI will also impact how businesses deliver customer service via the contact center. Bird raised the possibility of brand loyalty profiles dictating which type of service a customer receives. “For example, platinum members can “speak to an agent,” gold members will be routed to an “expedited IVR system” and general consumers will be sent to a standard dial-in system,” shared Bird.
Transition to the cloud will continue to grow
Bird is also positive that the transition to the cloud will continue next year. “Contact centers will exponentially move their company operations from on-premise operations to the cloud,” said Bird. “Cloud-based solutions are becoming more favorable to contact centers as they offer more flexibility, customization and require less overhead to operate than their on-premise counterparts. With the shift toward the cloud, contact centers will look to develop individualized, internal, virtual call center portals for each customer in the cloud.”
2017 has seen its fair share of headaches in the cybersecurity department. Hacks, attacks, ransoms, and even extortion attempts affected millions of customers in the US. Bird is hopeful that come 2018, enterprises will pay more attention to cybersecurity compliance. “In light of our nation’s mounting cybersecurity concerns, regulations are expected to remain the same in 2018,” shared Bird. “If anything, regulations will become more defined and transparent in 2018, resulting in less uncertainty and a decrease in vendor penalties for the industry.”
Open and positive business environment
The contact center and enterprise communications industry experienced an influx of mergers and acquisitions this year. Among the most notable acquisitions of 2017 so far are Mitel’s purchase of ShoreTel and Cisco’s acquisition of BroadSoft. Bird said this trend will continue into the new year. “There will be more consolidation among companies at the top of the industry,” predicted Bird. “With the compounded industry competition, companies will have more room to experiment with innovative contact center tools, business practices, and technology solutions.”
The age of the customer is indeed upon us. As we move into the new year, more trends will likely come up and disrupt the contact center space as we know it. But whether these predictions will come true or not, one thing is for sure--modern contact centers will have to shape up and get ready in order to stay competitive in 2018.
TCN is a trusted provider of robust cloud communication technologies and solutions to contact centers, enterprises, BPOs, and collection agencies worldwide. Combining cutting-edge technology, expertise in contact center operations, and a competitive pricing structure, TCN effectively addresses the communication needs of organizations. Platform 3.0, TCN’s hosted contact center suite, is designed to create high-performing contact centers. TCN also offers a range of high-quality solutions, including Interactive Voice Messaging (IVM), Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), Call Distribution, and more.