Contact Centre Trends 2019

What's next for the future of customer contact?

Contact Centre Trends 2019

Throughout 2018, “CX” or customer experience has been one of the significant trends leading the way for business growth. Consumers no longer base their loyalty for a brand on things like product features or price points. Instead, the only way to connect with your customer today is to offer them the experience that they’re looking for.

According to Gartner, by this time next year, 50% of organisations will have redirected their investments into innovations for customer experience. The question is, where do you get started? Countless new technologies and opportunities have already begun to emerge in the contact centre space, from the rise of “as a service” software to the appearance of numerous AI, machine learning and automation tools.

Predicting what your company should invest in going ahead can be a daunting concept, but it’s impossible to ignore the agile transformations occurring in contact centres around the world. For better or worse, now is the time to transform your approach to customer contact.

For insights into how successful brands have taken advantage of the changing marketplace this year, and guidance on the concepts that will be important in the year to come, we spoke to leaders like Five9, TCN, and Avaya. Here’s what they told us about the contact centre landscape.

The Customer Trends That Shaped Contact Centres in 2018

Customer sentiment is always an essential driver of trends in any part of the digital world. Whether you’re investing in a new UC solution or a strategy for everyday telephony, it’s crucial to keep your customers in mind. However, there are few areas where customer experience plays a more significant role in digital transformation than in the contact centre.

The contact centre is the crucial space bridging the gap between you and your target market. It’s how companies offer support, provided service, and take advantage of upselling opportunities. So, what have consumers demanded from contact centres this year?

Yaser Alzubaidi, Digital Engagement Solutions Leader for Avaya International:

Yaser Alzubaidi, Avaya

Yaser Alzubaidi, Avaya

Research by IDC and Avaya this year found that younger consumers have a far lower tolerance when it comes to resolution times. Today’s customers want fast responses to their problems and immediate access to specialists, rather than being passed between general customer service representatives.

Digital transformation initiatives that prioritise employee and customer experience will enable a new breed of contact centre agent who has visibility across multiple business processes, and can support consumers through human and digital interactions.”

Avaya’s report also highlighted a need to embed communication strategies into apps and processes to boost employee productivity and collaboration, something that could pave the way for higher demand in the CCaaS market.

McKay Bird, CMO for TCN Inc.

According to TCN, disruptive technology like data analytics tools, machine learning and bots have begun to appear in 2018 as a way of helping companies manage as many aspects of support, interaction and information gathering as possible.

“Routine tasks are now being handled automatically and more efficiently. This means that employees are more available to solve complicated issues, create memorable experiences for customers, and enhance brand loyalty.”

Dan Burkland, President of Five9:

Five9 believes that there’s been a significant shift in the way that consumers connect with brands and do their shopping in the last few years. “In the past, when you realised you were missing something, you had to go back to the store. Now, you can just order what you need online. This shift into the world of eCommerce has generated a higher demand for the contact centre.”

According to Dan Burkland, customers expect the experiences they have online to mimic the skills they would get in store. Customers want to feel as though they’re getting contextual, personalised moments with agents. “With the evolving idea of the empowered customer, there’s also a key understanding that if their expectations aren’t met, customers will simply leave.”

The Technologies Creating the Biggest Opportunities for Contact Centres

The marketplace for customer care is in a state of mass disruption.

As technologies continue to advance at record speed, and customer expectations grow higher than ever, companies need to work harder to stay ahead of the curve. New technologies like AI, machine learning, and countless other disruptors are increasingly at play in the contact centre world.

Yaser Alzubaidi, Digital Engagement Solutions Leader for Avaya International:

Voice-activated technology has a big part to play in the rise of the modern contact centre, according to Alzubaidi from Avaya International. “The popularity of voice-based assistants like Alexa and Siri, voice-activated smartphones, and more has increased customer confidence with this technology. While some nations remain conservative, our “SuperServe” research shows a huge interest in the development of virtual assistants for customer service.”

Virtual voice assistants aren’t just a convenience for contact centres; they also make it easier to track and manage critical data. “Of those with virtual assistant-powered smart speakers, 50% of those surveyed in a report by Davies Hickman Partners and Avaya would like to use this technology to boost customer service and bypass verification and identification questions.”

McKay Bird, CMO for TCN Inc.

McKay Bird, TCN

McKay Bird, TCN

For TCN the biggest player in the contact centre technology space today is data. “Data needs to be available across a variety of departments, for endless users. Technology that can quickly aggregate and analyse customer data in real-time will equip professionals with new insights for customer relationship management.”

TCN believes that giving UC executives more information will make it easier for them to create more consistent and meaningful connections with their target audience.

Dan Burkland, President of Five9:

In Five9’s opinion, the goal of any contact centre is to create quality experiences for customers. One of the trends supporting this goal is the rise of AI. “Implementing AI in the contact centre allows the human agent to focus on the customer and route key information directly to agents before the call begins. This leads to a more enjoyable experience for clients.”

Five9 also sees a future for features like speech-to-text integration, which can deliver enhanced human-like interactions on digital channels. “Traditionally, contact centres have used a round-robin format for inbound calls, which means that each agent gets the same amount of calls. Now, skills-based routing capabilities are far more effective at identifying caller needs and assigning the most qualified agents to consumer issues.”

Beyond 2018: What’s Next for 2019?

Just as the last 12 months have seen massive shifts in the landscape for customer service and contact centre solutions, the year ahead is sure to be disruptive too. After years of struggling to keep up with customer needs and expectations, businesses will be exploring the latest technologies to help them improve their strategies.

Yaser Alzubaidi, Digital Engagement Solutions Leader for Avaya International:

In Avaya’s opinion, machine learning, analytics, and AI will all do their part to streamline the contact centre experience, allowing consumers to do less work, and for businesses to offer better support. “The SuperServe study from Davies Hickman Partners and Avaya illustrates the benefits AI can bring. 52% of respondents said they want it to notify them of a problem with a product or service, while 40% would love AI to give them better sales pitches.”

Avaya also sees the use of voice biometrics replacing traditional verification methods as data breaches become more of a common concern. “80% of customers worry about giving card details on the phone. They believe that organisations aren’t looking after this data the way they should. Voice biometrics will allow consumers more peace of mind with their personal data, cutting out the middle man and enhancing customer experience.”

However, according to Alzubaidi, it’s also crucial for companies to find the right balance between machine and human. Though AI can improve the customer experience, there’s a trend for omnichannel contact in the call centre too. “75% of customers would like answers to their queries delivered on their smartphone, while 72% would still prefer a phone call with the business.” The importance of human touch is essential in this modern landscape.

“Our research shows that workers are much more likely to be comfortable with video these days too. 41% have used video chat at work, while the number of consumers using video chat to contact organisations has grown by 3% in the last 3 years.”

McKay Bird, CMO for TCN Inc.

TCN sees a future for numerous advanced technologies in the contact centre space, including voice applications integrated into AI, smart bots and digital assistants, better IVR interactions, and more social engagements. “Overall, the needs and expectations of the customer are changing rapidly, and companies need to adapt to a generation that expects proactivity, personalisation, and 24-hour accessibility. Chatbots and other AI platforms will have to become more intelligent, delivering the possibility of computer-to-computer communications that help businesses to predict consumer needs.”

TCN already has 20 years of experience in the communications space, which means that they’re well-suited to helping companies become more personalised and perceptive in this modern age.

Dan Burkland, President of Five9:

Dan Burkland, Five9

Dan Burkland, Five9

For Five9, the future of contact centre technology will include the continued transition that companies are making to the cloud and the rising adoption of artificial intelligence. “AI has the potential to enhance human agent performance – even if it’s unlikely to replace agents fully.”

According to Five9, AI in the future of contact centre could include automated call recordings, voice assistants, and contextual solutions that place customer information at an agent’s fingertips. “Adoption of cloud-based contact centre platforms ensure that every agent logs into the most current version of their system every time.”

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