Contact center trends for 2016

Posted: 01/13/2016 - 13:21 | Inova Solutions

The new year is off to a fast start. Here are some of the trends that call centers will want to look at in 2016.

Cloud-based software
Call center software based in the cloud is going to see even larger adoption over the course of this year. The benefits of the cloud are felt across numerous industries, but they have had - and will continue to have - a particularly big impact in the contact center.

As cloud-based contact center solutions diversify, managers will increasingly choose them for call centers, as the unique benefits of the cloud make software more flexible and massively scalable.

Multichannel contact systems
Customers don't consider desktops, tablets, mobile, and phones different avenues for communication. The reality is that customers want to use whatever device they are most comfortable with to access service representatives. Multichannel communication is the new norm, and contact centers should recognize that. SMS, Web and live chat are becoming just as important as the phone in the call center.

Contact centers should make sure that they give customers as many options as possible for getting in touch. As noJitter mentioned, contact center software is beginning to merge with customer relationship management - as well it should. The customer relationship is greatly impacted by the level of service customers get when they contact a business. Leveraging multichannel contact center solutions is important for keeping up with the changing nature of call center management.

Even Bigger Data
In the world of call center reporting, there is a constellation of metrics that call centers need to measure. Call center KPIs, a few of which we've discussed before, such as average call time, first call resolution and average hold time, are all important yardsticks for effective call center management. But this year, call centers have to step up their data game even higher.

As big data solutions move further into the workplace, it just underscores the need for real-time performance management. Speech, social and predictive analytics are all strategies that will become increasingly useful for managers to better understand customers as well as employees.

Automated virtual agents
Part of the consumer push for multichannel contact center strategies comes from a desire for self-service - minimizing person-to-person contact and instead using automated tools to speed the process along. It can save time and facilitate many calls that would not require a human representative. That being said, this would likely not be appropriate for every interaction.

Using automation in the customer journey can help accelerate service interactions and minimize average hold time in the call center by reducing the sheer volume of customers that representatives have to access. 

Giving personalized experiences is growing ever more important in a world that feels more impersonal every day. This trend, however, may fly directly in the face of the growing strategy of automating interactions, so contact center managers need to proceed with caution. Customers crave experiences tailored to them, and the call center is no exception to this trend. Making the user feel welcome or tailoring the contact experience to their preferences is a major key to success in giving a world-class customer experience. This might mean offering options to customers - those who prefer self-service would have be able to go that route, but speaking to an actual representative and finding services tailored to their needs would be an option for others.

The best contact centers put the customer experience at the forefront, managing to keep hold times short and resolve issues on the first call as much as possible. As 2016 gets off to a fast start, contact center management should look at personalizing the customer experience.

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