Contact Center Trends in 2014: Can the Pace of Big Change Continue?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • It’s that time of year again – time to talk about what is coming next year.  So many fundamental changes have occurred in the contact center world in the past few years in terms of the cloud, mobility, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and multichannel customer care, it is hard to imagine what else will happen next.
  • I believe that so many big changes have occurred in technology, standards and business processes that for the next year or two contact center managers will focus on ensuring they are taking advantage of everything available to them to optimize agent workloads, customer satisfaction and center effectiveness.

Now that we have just entered into the last calendar quarter of the year, it is a natural time to start thinking about the top industry trends we expect to see developing in the coming year or two.  I have been thinking about the developments in the contact center areas that have recently changed the industry.  As a start, I looked back over the trends that had been predicted by many over the past five years.  These included broad industry-changing standards, technologies and business approaches such as the moves from hardware to software, from time-division multiplexing (TDM) to Internet Protocol (IP) and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and from single mode (voice) to multimode customer service.

Not to be forgotten is the continuing major and fundamental move from premises-based to cloud-based solutions.  All of these were good, insightful forecasts of things to come by industry prognosticators that were, for the most part, right on target.  Some of these came on faster than others and all of them are currently in some stage of acceptance and implementation.  Can we expect this broad-reaching level of change to continue, or will the years ahead be somewhat more subtle and narrowly focused?

It occurs to me that the things that took place over the past few years were major shifts and changes, happening outside the contact center, which set the stage for what might be coming in the next year or so.  I believe now that those major industry shifts have taken hold and have been fairly well accepted, implemented or will soon be employed, we may be in for a year or two of fine-tuning.  This would involve more internal planning across contact centers and a major focus on optimizing resources, improving customer satisfaction and ensuring competitive differentiation of the enterprise.

So, what I expect to see occurring in the next year or two is a bigger focus on the smaller things – like how can we reduce customer and agent churn, perfect agent workload scheduling and get our arms around the ‘big data’ storage and analytics issues.  Moreover, managers will want to implement tools that will help quickly detect, in real-time, how to change the direction of a call when the customer’s satisfaction is turning downward, or capitalize on upticks in customer happiness through things such as cross-selling and up-selling.

In addition, I expect to see the proliferation of simple things that work but have not yet penetrated the majority of contact centers.  This includes things such as scheduled customer callbacks when queues are too long, the use of gamifcation to make the agent’s job more interesting and fun, and making mobile customer service via smartphones really smooth and easy.

The technology already exists for all of these things, yet they are not commonplace in most of our customer and corporate interactions.  Simply put, if I were creating my budget for next year’s contact center changes and had already implemented most of the big things, I would focus on spending money on the small things.

What are you planning to do?

What do you think?

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