It's our 100th blog so we decided to ask our bloggers for their brief thoughts on some of the key changes they see happening in our industry. We picked these five. Enjoy!
• The great technical breakthrough of WebRTC.
Give people a standard and it is amazing what can be achieved. The recent agreement on a WebRTC standard by all the major browser manufacturers is the single most disruptive, for good(!) thing to have happened in call centers for years, even topping AI! Using WebRTC to facilitate not just voice transactions but digital and video as well simply puts SIP in the shade. And it brings inherent security with simple deployment. With much of today's telephony infrastructure being deployed centrally or in the cloud, WebRTC removes many of the burdens, hassles and costs that have traditionally been associated with these types of deployments.
And of course WebRTC has been designed from the ground up to support remote working. Its ascent will have an interesting impact on the physical location of what a call center is.
• Software as a service (SAAS), available from the cloud, is here to stay and to grow with a vengeance
Software-as-a-Service (SAAS), delivered from the cloud, will see huge growth in adoption. If we discount rebranded legacy solutions, which aren't really cloud SAAS offerings, early Cloud Contact Center SAAS offerings were pretty basic; Simple ACD, first-party dial, no applications.
The game changer in 2018 will be vendors that have built end-to-end Contact Center solutions on top of these basic Contact Center stacks. Some vendors have embraced the software disciplines required to deliver a functionally rich Contact Center, as a native cloud solution. From this, will emerge new behemoths of the Contact Center industry. We can expect a few surprises.
• Blending. Not call blending but media blending.
When a customer wants to communicate with your organisation they don't consider sessions, service levels, average handling time or other such contact centre buzzwords. They just want to get through!
For a contact centre, this can pose some challenges. If there are plenty of agents available to take voice calls but very few available for chat and suddenly all of your callers want to use chat, what do you do?
Media blending allows available agents to be moved between media types, thereby ensuring that spikes in queue length can be accommodated. If your customers' habits change and they want to communicate in a different way your contact centre should automatically adapt to the change, move agents to the new media queues and take up the slack.
• AI, or machine learning. No discussion about contact centre solutions takes place these days without consideration of AI.
In the end it's all about Customer Experience! AI is a game changer for the all contact center services. It can offer the right information to the customer at the right time using self-service options. It can also help agents by providing information to help them handle complicated issues that self-service cannot resolve.
AI technologies are growing fast and are becoming a necessity for any first-class contact center. AI is replacing traditional IVR processes, predicting customer behaviours, choosing the best agent for a call, improving self-service channels, identifying call types, passing contacts to relevant channels and predicting customer needs.
But, remember, it's still all about the Customer Experience. There is always the need to have a live person to fill the gaps that AI can't deal with, and they will be many. Don't make the mistake of just using AI to replace costly human agents. Ultimately, particularly in a sales situation, there is nothing better than a clear, efficient and friendly chat with a human!
• Agent and customer empowerment.
Empowerment is the name of the game in the call center. Two main reasons. The impact of new technologies and the drop-off in outbound calling.
Now that it is more difficult in many markets to reach customers by phone, customers have a bewildering range of options, digital, video and voice that they can use to drive the kind of experience they want with call centers. Putting them in the driving seat makes for happier customers and better business.
In the same way, agents now have a much greater range of tools they can use to communicate with customers. Their skill sets will be deeper, job satisfaction much greater and high agent turnover a thing of the past.
Long live empowerment.