Change is the only constant trend.
Everything from the way we shop to how we listen to music has changed in the last two decades. This includes our experience as customers. Modern consumers are no longer willing to accept poor customer service. In fact, more than 80% of customers now say the experience a company provides is as important as its products.
It’s been a journey: The contact center evolved from the humble call center, as more channels of communication became commonplace. In order to keep up with the demands of modern consumers, the contact center is destined to evolve further, into the ‘Customer Experience Hub’ of the future.
As part of this, many businesses are already moving away from the view of call centers as ‘cost centers’ and towards one that views them as a centers of opportunity for businesses — one where the opportunities the center creates well outweigh the costs of running it.
With this ‘meta-trend’ to give us some context, here are three of our top trend predictions for the call center in 2020.
Contact Center Trend #1: Texting is Back (With Bells On)
2019 saw a resurgence in the use of SMS messaging by brands, along with massive growth in other messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger.
We’re expecting this trend to really take off over the next 12 months, as companies act on the information that nearly half of all Americans would be happy to conduct all their customer service interactions through texts, chat or messaging.Nearly half of all Americans would be happy to conduct all of their customer service interactions through texts, chat or messaging. #chat #customerservice #trends Click To Tweet
Our growing use of chat platforms will combine with the launch of Rich Communication Service (RCS) messaging, which will bring all the bells and whistles we’re used to having in our online messages to the humble text message.
Contact Center Trend #2: Omnichannel, Cloud-Based Contact Centers
Over the last few years, social media and chat-based customer support have added an array of new channels to the contact center, each with their own nuances.
Businesses and their contact centers are scrambling to accommodate a customer who expects to be able to communicate seamlessly with a company across at least 10 different channels!
As the contact center melds into the ‘experience hub’, omnichannel communication will become the standard. It will allow companies to standardize and unify customer communications across multiple communication channels.
To be able to deliver this, we expect to see many more contact centers migrate to the cloud in 2020; On the business end, cloud-based software can improve the reliability of local service, as well as allow for faster upgrades and better functionality.
For the customer, it means access to knowledgeable support agents who have access to real-time data about the customer, 24/7.
We’re expecting to see more than two-thirds of service providers move their contact centers to the cloud over the next 12 months.
Contact Center Trend #3: AI is here to stay
AI has been a growing trend in contact centers and customer service providers for a couple of years now, but in 2020 we’re expecting to see it come to the fore.
More than a third of service organizations already have a defined AI strategy and more than half are currently investigating ways to use it in the business.
And it’s easy to see why: More than 75% of service professionals using AI report improved prioritization of agents’ work, increased first contact resolution rate and CSAT or NPS scores, higher agent morale and reduced call volume and handling time.
Whether it’s handling and routing basic inquiries through self-service tools and chatbots, or using AI to improve reporting and predictive modelling, AI will be essential in delivering great customer experiences in the future.
But this doesn’t mean you’ll get a robot on the other end of the phone; AI will instead free up humans to better handle more complex cases, cases that require empathy and time.
Contact Centers Will Change in 2020
These are not the only major trends we expect to see this year — you can find the others in our free downloadable guide here — but they should give you a good idea of the direction the contact center is headed.
As the focus of contact center turns to creating value rather than reducing expenses, KPIs like, ‘customer satisfaction’ and ‘service level’ will become increasingly favoured over metrics like, ‘average handling time’.
As managers look to improve the customer experience, ‘soft-skills’ like empathy and active listening will be more in-demand in contact center agents; and perhaps more importantly, managers will look at ‘agent satisfaction’ as a key differentiator when it comes to delivering high-quality customer service.
All things considered, it is an exciting time for the contact center, and we look forward to seeing how these trends develop in 2020.