From new technologies to the current health crisis, call centers have experienced tremendous changes in recent times and must constantly adapt to the evolving needs of customers to provide the best customer experience possible. This is a critical element for companies that wish to stand out from their competitors. The pandemic has forced contact centers to strike a balance between offering seamless digital customer experiences while maintaining a human touch. The future of customer experience therefore relies on the ability of call centers to adapt to changing customer needs by combining the best technologies with an attentive and empathetic approach. Here are five call center trends to look out for in 2021.
According to Gartner, approximately 88% of contact center end-user spend will be generated by cloud services versus premises-based contact center infrastructure (CCI) investments by 2024. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cloud became a major asset for companies whose contact centers had already adopted the model and an urgent necessity for those still needing to make the migration. A cloud solution offers numerous benefits for companies including easy deployment, reduced costs, immediate flexibility and scalability, increased security, and data accessibility. Additionally, the flexibility of a cloud solution enables companies to diversify contact center agents across multiple sites and guarantee business continuity seamlessly, as all agents have access to the same tools regardless of location.
A survey by Global Workplace Analytics revealed that 77% of the workforce wishes to work from home once the pandemic is over. This new trend demands that contact centers offer the necessary support to guarantee agent success and prevent burnout while maintaining business continuity. To ensure agent productivity, contact centers must first equip agents with reliable technology and access to the same features, whether they work remotely or onsite. HR and contact center supervisors must also adapt to using digital tools that allow remote assistance. HR should train remotely, while supervisors should access real-time supervision boards to manage agent performance and help agents build their skills. By taking these steps, agents will become more empowered and productive, leading to decreased burnout, greater retention rates, and the creation of true brand ambassadors.
AI and automated service have become essential to offering proactive customer service while reducing contact center costs and increasing efficiency. Prior to the pandemic, customers were already showing a preference for effortless 24/7 self-service. AI and automated service have been critical during this health crisis as they have enabled companies to handle increased contact volume, reduce wait times, and cut costs. AI also allows companies to precisely analyze customer behavioral patterns across all channels. This empowers contact centers to predict likely sources of customer frustration and prevent problems before they arise—leading to more proactive and personalized customer experiences.
With the during pandemic lockdowns, many companies shifted to an increased online presence to maintain business operation continuity. As the point of contact between customers and brands, contact centers must meet the customer expectation of a seamless, personalized experience across phone and digital channels. This means that an omnichannel strategy is no longer an option, but a must. Companies must give their contact center agents access to a robust, unified, and integrated omnichannel platform. Such a platform must enable agents to manage customer interactions from a single interface with access to all customer interaction history across all channels.
The digitalization of the customer experience has led to greater agent and customer satisfaction: 24/7 support, faster resolutions, more intuitive and personalized experiences… Nonetheless, customers continue to value the human touch. As AI and automated service enable customers to solve issues on their own, agents will be expected more and more to focus on customer interactions requiring the expertise, advice, and empathy that only humans can deliver. For example, they may be tasked with managing complex topics, offering personalized advice, and dealing with highly emotional customers. As a Kantar study revealed that 70% of consumers expect a brand to adopt a reassuring tone during these difficult times, agents must show empathy to win customer loyalty.
Companies must equip their contact centers with the very best technology and offer ongoing agent training that embraces both technical and interpersonal skills. By taking these steps, they can offer seamless, personalized, and empathetic experiences which drive customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
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