Contact Center Trends for 2021

By Chris Recio, Director of Contact Center and Advanced Applications

So here we are again, the end of another year. Let’s just say 2020 has been nothing short of atypical. More than ever, we have been pushed to the limits of our Contact Center technology and everyone has been forced into rethinking the sustainability of their Contact Center operations.

The Contact Center Wars Are Officially Underway

Aside from the obvious challenges we have experienced in 2020, we are also seeing tremendous technological advancements that have officially started The Contact Center Wars. From providers who know contact center, as well as those not-so-savvy contact center wannabes, resulting in many newcomers to the billion-dollar Contact Center industry. This is creating confusion for some, especially those operations looking to advance their knowledge and technology.

Keeping pace with technology and the operational challenges of growth and customer demands continue to create a paradigm shift in our thought processes in how we adapt to our customer’s needs and this almost always impacts the technology we must use to maintain an edge over our competition.

While technology provides great opportunities to advance our operation, the underlying influence upon people and how we adapt to these changes should be considered as well.

My Hit List Of Contact Center Trends For 2021

Our list of Contact Center trends will address technology and the shifts in the operational mindset of the contact center, hopefully offering insight into topics not usually addressed in a year-end, forward-looking summary.

  1. Bots, Artificial Intelligence/Automation & Self-Service
  2. Voice Analytics
  3. Data & Business Intelligence
  4. Cloud Migration
  5. Agent Expertise/Brand Consistency
  6. Social Media

Bots, Artificial Intelligence & Automation For Sustained Growth In The Contact Center

Let me start by saying this: the goal of artificial intelligence and machine learning is not to replace agents, but rather, to enhance automation and provide much deeper experience for customers and the operation alike.

For those of you who have been in the Contact Center industry for quite some time, the #1 issue impacting all Contact Center operations is staffing. Adding to that issue, is the growing demand for always-on access to information and assistance that further impacts staffing, if we are to keep pace the old-fashioned way: hire more staff.

To Bot Or Not To Bot In The Contact Center?

However, at some point, given the state of technology and the growing demand of customers, every Contact Center operation will arrive at a crossroads. That being: To Bot or Not to Bot? The answer is: Why, Yes! You won’t have a choice if your desire is to remain relevant.

Bots have changed dramatically in a short period of time and have become much easier to configure, deploy and use. Bots, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence have resulted in nimble processes that are much easier to configure and deploy when compared to the past, and with Natural Language Processing, Bots have also become quite human-sounding and much more pleasant from a customer experience point of view.

While there are a growing number of options for providing Bots, there are some things I look for in choosing the right Bot foundation for the operation.

Key Considerations In Choosing The Right Bot Solution For Your Contact Center

First: The Bot application should be easy to configure and should not require a heavy dedication of resources to manage and deploy. With the advancements in technology available today, there are a handful of applications that can be configured and deployed using data entry skills and a basic understanding of logic.

Next: The Bot application should provide a working foundation circumventing the need for heavy development. The state of technology today should provide a framework that could include templates easily allowing clients the ability to rapidly deploy Bot automation without the need for custom development work.

Third: The Bot application should easily be configured as a plugin application to the primary Contact Center operation. If a customer is using a Bot and needs assistance from an agent – and it will happen – then the Bot should be Contact Center aware and Agent aware. The Bot process should send the entire conversation to the Contact Center Agent so that the customer need not start the conversation over, simply because the interaction had to be moved to a Customer Care Agent. Many bots provide the dialogue, but moving that dialogue to the Contact Center Agents needs to be considered as part of the overall customer experience.

Lastly: the Bot should have direct access to web services already associated with the Contact Center solution already in place by the operation. There shouldn’t be a need to develop new web services for the purposes of bridging Bot technology into the Contact Center operation.

My Recommended Bot Solutions

  • Genesys Cloud Dialog Engine – part of Genesys Cloud Contact Center uses native Web Services contained within Genesys Cloud Contact Center
  • Google Dialogflow – includes templates – integrates into Genesys Cloud Contact Center – may require external web services and SDK processes
  • Amazon Lex – integrates into Genesys Cloud Contact Center – requires external web services and must use Amazon Lambda functions
  • Twilio AutoPilot – requires external web services