The call center industry continues to evolve as it responds to changes in the global business environment. Economic pressures, new technologies, increased competition, and customer behaviour are all affecting the landscape.
Here are 10 call center trends to look out for in 2012.
1. Emotion Detection
Emotion detection is an automated way to measure how a caller feels. It is based on things like how loud a customer is talking, their tone, pitch, and how fast they speak.
Some call centers prioritize callers in their queue based on how angry they are. The system will intuitively listen to the caller while they are on hold and if a caller is vocally upset, they will receive a higher priority in the queue and connect to an agent faster.
While on hold with Scotiabank, I was immediately connected with an agent when I started yelling. This mitigated my frustration and demonstrates how emotion detection can make for a less frustrating experience.
2. The Cloud
More call centers are migrating to the cloud because of the benefits it provides. The biggest driver for this conversion is attributed to cost reduction followed by scalability and easier call center management.
By 2013, Gartner Research predicts that at least 75% of customer-focused call centers will use a form of the cloud in their call centers.
The rapid increase of mobile adoption has altered the call center landscape. DestinationCRM.com published an article, “Can Mobile and IVR Avoid a Fight?”, which identifies a new generation of consumers who are choosing their mobile devices as their initial point of contact for customer service. This leaves the call center in the back seat in terms of interaction preferences.
Mickey Ristroph, Chief Technology Officer of Mutual Mobile says, “Mobile will not completely replace an IVR or the Web, but it will become people’s first choice.” Mobile plays a major role in deflecting calls from traditional call centers, and we expect this trend to continue as mobile adoption increases.
Another interesting trend is the integration between smartphones and call centers as mentioned in Ovum.com’s article, “Bringing the contact center to the smartphone.” This type of integration provides the CSR with information on what the customer was doing on their mobile device before escalating the issue to the call center, which results in more efficient service once the caller is connected to the agent.
4. Scheduled Call-Backs
Nothing is more frustrating to a caller than having to wait on hold. This is far too common in an era where call center budgets have been repeatedly slashed.
A scheduled call-back eliminates the time spent waiting on hold and offers the customer the option to receive a call when an agent becomes available.
This is a logical solution for call centers looking to cut hold times from their callers’ perspectives and improve customer satisfaction.
5. Voice of the Customer (VOC)
The call center experience is inherently emotional, and qualitative analytics are an effective way to measure and make sense of it.
As a result, Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs are becoming more popular because they gather feedback on customer expectations and satisfaction. Bruce Temkin defines it as, “A systematic approach for incorporating the needs of customers into the design of customer experiences.” If used properly, VOC programs will help companies optimize the call center for their customers.
6. 360 View
Customers use multiple channels to interact with a business including the web, telephone, email, and mobile. Customer data, however, is typically not shared between these channels.
Industry leaders are getting closer to achieving the elusive 360 view of the customer. This will empower agents with additional insight about the customer and result in more personalized experience and fewer frustrated customers.
This type of technology is on the wish list of most organizations and those who can afford it will reap the benefits. However, budget restrictions and buy-in from stakeholders will prevent its widespread adoption.
7. Call Center Analytics
New technology is providing call centers with access to more data than ever before. Real-time analytics, voice of the customer programs, and post-call surveys provide the call center with deeper insight into customers.
Sometimes, less is more. With so much data available it’s easy to fall victim to “analysis paralysis.” In order to drive performance, managers should focus on following a manageable number of KPIs and ensure they are actionable.
8. Agent Attrition
Call center agents experience a lot of stress. They deal with rude customers, are constantly monitored, and are underpaid. Not surprisingly, call centers have the highest employee turnover rate out of any industry out there.
Agent attrition results in significant training costs for call centers, which is one of their biggest expenses.
We expect to see more focus placed on initiatives such as work-from-home, knowledge-base, and scheduled call-backs. These initiatives make an agent’s life easier and less stressful, which leads to higher retention rates.