While it shouldn’t be news to anyone that technology is evolving at a rapid rate, we’ve seen real benefits from the various technologies impacting the contact center industry this year. From improvements to multi-channel software integration, to increased use of IVR, call centers across the nation have been focused on gaining a competitive edge by aligning technology with customer trends.
Through improvements in technology, interactions have become easier, friendlier and more cost effective. Staying up-to-date requires continuous investigation into its benefits.
To make your lives a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of our top contact center trends that will continue having an impact in 2017. As always, the successful integration of these trends will involve precise planning and foresight, but the benefits will be noticeable for your customers once they become an integral part of your business.
1. Omnichannel Communications
We can’t stress this enough: omnichannel communications is “in” for 2017. Though it’s made an appearance in 2016, there’s still a lot of confusion between omnichannel and multichannel communications. The big difference to note is that multichannel allows customers to interact through different, unconnected channels.
The result: Your communication channels don’t talk to each other. This means your customers have to start over with their query when changing from phone to chat, and can also result in inaccurate internal reporting.
Omnichannel has been a big customer service buzzword this year. The idea here is that it combines all channels of support and communication into one seamless experience for the customer.
Determining whether or not your business needs to integrate omnichannel infrastructure depends on the needs of your customers. In addition, look at the size of your customer base and the available budget of your new contact center technologies.
2. Cloud Contact Centers
Most contact center software companies have jumped on board with cloud based services this year, mainly under a pay-as-you-go system. While this is not necessarily a brand-new idea, the speed and ease in which it can be implemented makes it one of our top trends for 2017.
Cloud contact centers offer 24/7 support and provide real flexibility and adaptability, particularly in their ability to be integrated with third-party CRM platforms such as Salesforce, Zendesk, SAP and Facebook.
If you don’t already have cloud based services as part of your contact center, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the benefits you’ll see in the coming year.
3. Virtual Agents
The term “virtual agents” or “remote agents” used to be extremely scary for many business owners, as it came with a lot of perceived risk and uncertainty. However, today’s technology and software has made real-time monitoring of agent performance extremely simple. Now, it’s easier than ever to track your remote agents. In fact, more contact centers have been actively exploring the benefits of this employment option.
Training and feedback for your agents can also be done remotely, so any distance between the agent’s location and your premises won’t cause any issues with management. Certification, recertification and up-training can be done through an e-learning platform that the agent can access at any time.
Trends show that, in a few years, it’s very likely that one out of every three agents will be working from home.
Whether you have your sights set on implementing virtual agents or not, it may be something to consider given all the added benefits of lower attrition rates, productivity improvements, a reduction in costs, and more flexibility for extended hours if your business operates on a 24-hour schedule.
4. Social Media
Time and time again, social media has proven to be the Achilles heel of most companies in today’s digital world. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find a company without a Facebook or Twitter account, most of them struggle with how to use the platforms to their advantage. In turn, the service provided through these channels leaves customers wanting more.
How many times have you messaged a business on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and been ignored? Whether it is a simple question or a customer complaint, it’s extremely frustrating to receive an automated message saying your message was received, and then never hearing from a customer service agent.
In its original intent, social media can be used to connect with our customers on a more personal level. Social media can also generate positive or negative discussions that will impact your brand if not handled properly.
The main idea: If you have an open forum, take advantage of it. Unread messages in your inbox? Go above and beyond what your customers expect when responding. This will build further confidence in your brand.
It’s a fact: customers feel empowered when they can solve something for themselves. Simple things like resetting an internet connection or rebooting a device to solve a minor issue shouldn’t require a call or a chat session with a customer support agent. This is a main reason why self-service is going to be big in 2017. To keep up with this trend, companies need to explore the option of self-service portals, detailed FAQs and video guides to allow customers to find this basic information for themselves.
With a self-service portal, customers can search for their questions online and follow instructions to fix it. Worst case scenario: your customer can’t find the answer to their problem, but perused your resources and learned something new. As a last resort option to their toughest problems, provide your contact information and the number to your support staff where they can talk directly to an agent.
As technology and trends evolve, we’ll work to keep you updated on all the latest in the unified communications industry. Staying up to date on new technologies is the secret to better customer service, so keep in mind that today’s customers are more tech-savvy than ever. Their experiences, good and bad, can make or break a company’s reputation in today’s day and age.
Interested in learning more about Contact Center trends? Don’t miss our recent released survey results, Contact Center Operation Trends – 2016 Survey Report. With over a thousand responses to our survey, the results are incredible! Find out more about some of the surprising trends in the contact center industry today!
Founded in 1997, Inflow Communications is a national leader in unified communications and Contact Centers. With close to 100,000 endpoints under Inflow’s innovative support plans around the world, their dedication to knowledge, innovation, and unrivaled customer support has landed them in ShoreTel’s top 2% in global customer satisfaction, and as a winner of ShoreTel’s coveted Circle of Excellence Partners award. For two years in a roll, Inflow is a ShoreTel Platinum Partner, the highest level of partnership, and is their fastest growing partner globally. In addition, Inflow is one of the few Cloud Contact Center providers that offers implementation, ongoing support, and compressive consulting and training programs. Inflow service clients across the globe and has local offices in Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, L.A. and the Bay Area.