Gone are the days of providing customer service solely through inbound and outbound calls.
Instead, the call center of the future will use all possible forms of communication to reach out to their target audience or consumers.
That’s because the customer expectations are higher than ever. They expect their queries and complaints to be addressed quickly, efficiently, and in a personalized manner.
In this article, we’ll explore the future of call center services and ten trends that influence it. We’ll also look into the problems faced by call centers today.
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What is the Future of Call Centers?
- Call Center of the Future: 10 Upcoming Trends
- Transforming Call Centers to Contact Centers
- Creating an Omnichannel Customer Service
- Embracing the Internet of Things
- Improving Mobile Functionality
- Adopting Cloud-Based Call Centers
- Using Advanced Analytics to Improve Services
- Utilizing Self-Service Technology
- Hiring Trained and Skilled Employees
- Employing the Hybrid Model
- Adapting Remote Working Model
- 3 Major Problems of Call Centers Today
What is the future of call centers?
Call centers will have no choice but to adopt the latest technology to stay relevant in the changing world.
Future call centers will incorporate AI, CRM, application programming interface (API), visual IVR, and machine learning to transform into an autonomous contact center.
An autonomous contact center is an automation-powered contact center where a bot takes charge of end-to-end customer interaction — through any communication channel. It’ll help provide timely, personalized, and quick customer responses in a cost-efficient manner.
But this doesn’t mean that existing call centers will cease to exist.
Most call centers today already employ some form of IVR technology. So, you can utilize an autonomous contact center along with an IVR. This way, simple issues can be handled quickly without agent interaction.
As a result, call centers can lower their turnover rates as agents will be able to manage their workload better — they will only have to focus on what actually requires their attention.
It’s also not necessary to automate your entire call center operations.
Automating even a small process could drastically improve your call center’s efficiency.
Now that we have a basic idea about what the future holds for call centers, let’s dive into some trends that’ll play a vital role in this.
Call center of the future: 10 upcoming trends
From outsourcing call centers to adopting IVR, automated voice, etc., call centers have come a long way in the recent past.
But there are more possibilities for this industry.
Here are a few upcoming trends that’ll gain popularity in the coming days:
1. Transforming call centers to contact centers
Traditionally, call center services are focused only on telephonic customer calls to answer customer issues.
This often involves long holds and interactive voice response (IVR) question queues, resulting in a bad customer experience.
That’s why contact centers are gaining popularity.
Contact centers combine different types of technology like CRM (customer relationship management), automation, cloud-based systems, etc., to deliver great customer service. They provide services across multiple channels like social media, live chat, SMS, email, etc.
As a result, customers can communicate in the preferred channel and get quick assistance.
With such clear advantages, call centers will have no choice but to embrace the latest call center technology and maybe even convert entirely into contact centers. This is the only way to match the ever-evolving customer expectations.
2. Creating an omnichannel customer service
Technology is bringing consumers and producers closer every day.
To meet customers halfway, omnichannel customer support will gain momentum in the coming years, integrating all communication channels to provide a seamless journey.
For example, a person whose product arrived damaged might choose to email the pictures of the product, whereas a person with a simple query might only need a chatbox.
What’s even more impressive is that with an omnichannel call center, customers can switch between channels without losing the context of interaction.
For example, a customer who reaches out through chat soon realizes that a phone call would convey their problem better. They can then switch to call mode without restarting the entire conversation.
Now, let’s look at multiple forms of communications that’ll have a place in omnichannel communication.
a. Web chat support
Contrary to popular beliefs, live chat support has a staggering customer satisfaction rate of 73%. Here, callers don’t have to stay on hold or be bothered with unnecessary chit-bits.
You can also use an Artificial Intelligence chatbot to answer simple questions while the call center agent handles complicated ones. That’ll save both time and money.
And lastly, video chat support will gain popularity in the future as it’s going through rapid development.
With video chat support, contact center agents will be able to demonstrate the use of products and services as well as provide in-store service to people who can’t step out.
Clearly, face-to-face interactions will personalize customer service significantly.
b. Social media
Initially, social media was only a means of communication, entertainment, and marketing.
But call centers are beginning to see the potential of social media as a digital channel to address customer needs. Social media enables call centers to have one-on-one customer interaction.
Moreover, with social media monitoring tools, call centers will know when consumers talk about them. They can acknowledge good feedback and address grievances to build a personalized brand.
3. Embracing the internet of things
The Internet of Things (IoT) could be the revolution call centers need.
IoT refers to devices that connect or ‘talk’ to each other via the internet. It can include any range of devices such as sensors, smartphones, electronic devices, wearables, etc.
How will this help call centers?
Adopting the IoT will allow call centers to deliver preemptive services.
For example, if your laptop senses an issue, it’ll directly contact the customer service team without your help. Then the call center will contact you to inform the detected problem and schedule a time to get it fixed.
As more devices get connected, call centers will use data from them to proactively reach out to customers in need.
So in the future, you could be buying products with built-in call centers — taking customer service to another level.
4. Improving mobile functionality
Today, every business application or website ensures that they’re compatible with mobiles because there’s hardly anything you can’t do on them.
Most importantly, it’s the easiest way to contact a call center or a consumer.
Naturally, future call centers will pay equal attention to mobile functionality as customer care providers. It’s also important because mobiles allow any type of communication, be it email, social media, live chat or video chat, etc., supporting omnichannel communications.
For example, call centers could address grievances through an app. Or they could help customers by redirecting them to their FAQs or web pages while the call center agent speaks to them.
5. Adopting cloud-based call center technology
Although some call centers have already adopted the cloud system, there’s no doubt that it’ll be the future of customer care.
The network-based call center technology is hosted by a third-party vendor in a cloud-based center. It can incorporate any number of technologies into its network, making the call centers quite advanced.
For instance, many cloud-based call centers include automation technologies and interactive voice response (IVR) systems. This allows call centers to effortlessly manage analytics, agent productivity, etc.
Such technologies allow call center managers to monitor remote work, and remote agents will no longer need to be present together in a physical office. Instead, they can collaborate remotely.
As a result, call centers will be able to save costs, increase scalability, decrease staff turnover and at the same time increase customer satisfaction.
6. Using advanced analytics to improve services
Data is powerful, and call centers handle massive customer data daily. Such vast data can be analyzed and used to better customer service or employee management.
For instance, predictive analytics will become an important part of future call centers as it helps evaluate customers’ behavior patterns.
For example, suppose a food delivery service delays its delivery. In that case, agents could proactively reach out to the customer through multiple channels, like messages and calls, to alert the customer.
This’ll show that the company cares, increasing customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
Predictive analytics will also project the number of call center employees needed by analyzing call volumes. It can also forecast the call volume during a product rollout to better prepare the call center employees.
Analytics may also be used instead of manual supervision of call centers.
For example, leveraging analytics for call center monitoring will give real-time results using more data than manual supervision. This’ll help improve the efficiency of call centers by analyzing agent productivity.
Additionally, real-time speech analytics can analyze customer calls and zero out repetitive questions. Call centers can then automate those with AI chatbots or Artificial Intelligence technology.
7. Utilizing self-service technology
Self-service technology is highly popular in many fields like drive-in ATMs, booking online doctor appointments, etc. It empowers customers to resolve their own queries without call center agent interaction.
And that’s why it’ll be a solid trend for the call center of the future.
Consumers now reach out to call centers through many channels, which may be challenging to handle with limited staff. But with self-service tools like AI chatbots, virtual assistants, SMS, etc., call centers can meet this workload without increasing the workforce.
For example, an AI-based self-service IVR will empower customers to choose what they want, like booking an appointment or tracking an order. And the self-service technology will only route the calls to agents if customers want additional information.
8. Training employees
As call centers evolve into contact centers, call center employees will have to be better trained and skilled than before to take over new tasks that demand technical knowledge.
As AI takes over mundane and simple tasks from employees, agents of future call centers will only need to address complex issues.
As a result, agents will need a great knowledge base, better problem-solving skills, and sound technical knowledge.
For instance, call centers will need highly-skilled employees to work in a cloud-based contact center or operate automation technology. They’ll also need to know how to use multiple communication channels like live chat, social media, email, etc.
Moreover, as call centers use data to their advantage, a customer service agent will need good analytical skills too.
9. Employing the hybrid model
In the coming years, AI will only gain more popularity, making it cheaper and easy to use.
This means you can automate some, if not all, of your call center processes.
As a result, an AI-powered call center will help call centers increase productivity and cut costs.
But this also doesn’t mean replacing humans. According to a study, 82% of U.S and 74% of non-U.S consumers want more human interaction in the future.
So, the future call centers will likely be hybrid models consisting of both humans and Artificial Intelligence.
For example, contact centers can employ AI technology to answer FAQs, book appointments, self-service tools, update orders, etc. Meanwhile, human agents will solve more complex problems.
10. Adopting a remote working model
As call centers adopt cloud-based models, you can expect to see many going remote since it helps reduce overhead expenses. It also gives employees much more flexibility, which often translates to better productivity.
Additionally, call centers will no longer be location-dependent and can cater to customers across different time zones, improving their customer base.
But how do you monitor the productivity of your remote agents?
Fortunately, powerful cloud-based tools like Time Doctor make productivity management a cakewalk.
What is Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a robust productivity management app used by SMBs, like ThriveMarket, as well as large companies like Ericsson.
With Time Doctor, call center managers can:
- Keep track of how employees spend their time with detailed reports.
- Evaluate productivity of employees through agent reports and metrics.
- Simplify tasks and automate project management in one place.
- Use distraction alerts to help employees stay focused on work, and more.
Let’s now check out some challenges faced by most call centers today.
3 major problems of call centers today
Here are three main problems faced by present call centers.
1. Difficulty in forecasting accurate supply and demand
Call centers find it difficult to predict traffic volume or the number of agents needed to tackle high call volumes.
Many call centers, at times, fail to predict incoming calls — leading to customers waiting in long hold queues. Call center agents, too, get overworked by spending hours on endless calls.
As a result, it costs the call centers efficiency, time, and customer loyalty.
2. High turnover rates
Call centers usually have alarming turnover rates of 30-40%, while some even face triple-digit staff attrition rates. This is because most call centers overwork to handle a massive intake of phone calls, which causes the agents to burn out.
They might also be performing mundane tasks like booking appointments, checking availability, answering repetitive questions, etc. — all of which AI chatbots can take care of.
3. Poor customer experience
First call resolution is something every call center aims for and what every customer wants.
However, employees who aren’t able to focus (due to burnout or other reasons) may fail to resolve customer issues efficiently. This means that customers may have to make multiple calls and repeat their queries — leading to a poor customer experience.
Fortunately, these issues can be resolved by embracing the trends we covered above.
Call centers need to invest in technology like AI, automation, unified communication channels, etc., to adapt to the changing world and customer expectations.
The trends we mentioned here are just some of the changes you can expect to see in future call centers that’ll help them become faster, better, and more efficient than ever. You can use this information to improve your call center operations right away.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.