No stranger to change, the contact center industry has been ahead of the curve throughout the global pandemic. We consulted ten industry experts to tell us all about it – and discuss the state of the contact center in 2023.
Word: Contact centers are technology leaders! While the world was pivoting from on-site to hybrid and remote workspaces, contact centers were also embracing cloud technology and upskilling agents to be among the first-generation of AI-native workers. And not a moment too soon.
Our influencers discuss how digital transformation is fast-tracking changes to the agent’s role, and why you need to take your customer service to social media. The rise of artificial intelligence and its impact on self-service was a huge topic of interest. Here’s a sneak peek into what our influencers had to say!
Self-Service is Leading the Pack
Over and over again, our influencers flagged self-service as a trend that contact centers cannot ignore. Customers love it. From knowledge bases to chatbots to AI-assisted tools and sentiment analysis, the impact of these tools will be profound.
Chatbots are the first AI tool many contact centers try. Their ability to understand natural language will improve as they gain more knowledge.
“I think we’ll see big growth in self-serve through chat windows. This is beyond just logging on to the brand website and typing into the chat that pops up. Chat will do more.”
– Dennis Wakabayashi, CX Industry Influencer
Knowledge bases like FAQs are less flashy than the bots, but these repositories of expertise are key to the success of self-service.
– Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst at COMMfusion
Self-service is empowering
The best self-service empowers agents and creates a positive experience for both agents and customers.
“I think it’s always going to be all about humans — plus AI — when it comes to CX. And we’re just starting to use technologies that can empower those humans rather than just sort of manage and control them in the work setting.”
– Evan Kirstel, Tech Influencer & Analyst
Self-Service Does Not Run Itself
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises is that self-service tools do not run themselves. Plan to assign skilled employees, a budget, and enough time to keep your self-service tools tuned up and working properly.
Developing a habit of constantly evaluating your tools and looking down the road is key to success.
“One important thing to remember about self-service tools and technology is that it’s not about a single vendor, a single tool or a single application. Even if you think you have your self-service technology dialed in perfectly: it requires constantly assessing, evaluating, looking at alternatives, considering the roadmap and talking to new vendors. You have to develop that muscle in order to be competitive today.”
– Shai Berger, CEO & Founder, Fonolo
The Rise of AI
The swift emergence of AI-driven tools early in 2023 made it clear that the AI revolution has arrived. From smart self-service chatbots to real-time agent assist, the impact AI will have on the contact center can’t be overstated. AI-driven tools help create next-level customer experiences where businesses can anticipate customer’s needs before they happen.
“When artificial intelligence listens in on our conversations, we understand the customer better. We know when they called before, how often they call, and why they call. Here’s what’s cool: We can match them up with other customers who are exactly the same as them. Based on all the history we have with these other customers, we will be able to answer questions the customer doesn’t even know they’re going to ask.”
– Shep Hyken, CS & CX Expert, Keynote Speaker, and NYT Bestselling Author
Contact Centers are Becoming Profit Centers
As the first point of customer contact, contact centers are the voice of the brand to many callers. Stack this up with the valuable data that flows through contact centers, and it’s easy to see why some of the biggest companies in the world are showing interest in the call center industry.
First impressions count
Every single interaction at a contact center is an opportunity to create a loyal customer.
“I believe that the contact center should be seen as a profit center, because an agent is typically the first point of contact for a new customer and a lot of relationships are made or broken there.”
– Sue Duris, Principal Consultant at M4 Communications, Inc.