The Contact Center in 2013 and Beyond: Top Industry Predictions, Trends and More

If you were to ask 10 business executives how they envision the future of the contact center, you would most likely get 10 varying answers. When it comes to painting a precise picture of the customer experience next year or five years from now – and more importantly, call center solutions that will support the customer experience – the strokes of paint can become a bit blurry.

In a recent whitepaper, top industry analyst Forrester Research helps by exploring what trends will dominate the planning agenda of business and IT professionals who are responsible for leading and supporting customer service and support organizations. So…what can we expect to see in the second half of 2013, and how will these trends shape the future of the contact center space?

Forrester advises that companies pay attention to three specific trends to ensure their customer service aligns with customer demand and expectations:

Trend #1: Channel Preferences Are Changing – and Quickly

We all know that customer preferences for contacting companies are changing, and it’s all pointing to one demand: personalization. Personalizing the customer experience has become vital for securing contact center success. This can include: channel preference; mobility; agile service; proactive service; and voice of the customer. In the past three years, Forrester notes an 18 percent rise in online Web self-service usage, a 39 percent increase in the use of communities for customer service, and a 43 percent rise in chat usage. And let’s not forget newly emerging channels including co-browsing, virtual agents and SMS.

Key Takeaway: As we edge into the second half of 2013, customer service professionals will be continuously working to better understand the channel of the customer’s choice to align it with their service strategy.

Trend #2: Mobile is Becoming a Must

Mobility will continue to gain traction in the customer service sector. For example, Forrester reports that over one-third of U.S. adults online own a smartphone. Furthermore, mobility will begin to define the customer relationship management (CRM) space, evidenced by a recent BearingPoint survey revealing that mobile CRM delivered an impressive 60 percent increase in customer satisfaction, 30 percent increase in sales and 30 percent increase in productivity.

Key Takeaway: As 2013 continues to roll on, customers will continue to demand a greater ability to interact with customer service organizations via mobile devices. Forrester also predicts that customers will demand multimodal capabilities from mobile devices (like reading an FAQ while speaking with a customer service rep).

Trend #3: Agile Customer Service Will Be Most Important

Customers expect service that not only spans across multiple platforms (i.e. mobile, website, kiosk, in-store), but also service that seamlessly interacts with one another. For example, if your customer decides to contact you via Web chat on your company website, he or she should be able to complete that interaction using a mobile phone.

Key Takeaway: As we approach 2014, Forrester predicts that customer service management professionals will continue to work on breaking down communication silos within and outside of customer service. Additionally, they will work on standardizing the resolution process and customer service experience across communication channels and touchpoints.

What do you foresee for the second half of 2013 and beyond? Let us know @Vocalcom or on our Facebook page!

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