Five contact centre trends driven by people and technology

    It’s not just technology that is changing the way contact centres operate. There are some significant shifts taking place right now that are driven by people; both the customers and their demands and the adapting objectives of the businesses running them.

    Here I’ve taken a look at the core five trends that are driving changes in today’s contact centres, breaking them down into who exactly is driving these, the challenges that come with them and solutions to overcome any issues.

    1. From cost centre to revenue generator

    Historically the contact centre was a cost to the rest of the business, a necessity that subsided on profits from elsewhere. However, businesses are learning that the contact centre is much more closely tied to profit generation, as another part of what is now a multi-channel customer journey to purchase.

    Hence the emphasis for contact centres has shifted away from being a cost, towards being a revenue contributor and it is C-level executives who are really pushing this. This puts the focus on optimizing the efficiency of both the technology and agents, and with this come difficulties around balancing agent numbers against customer demand.

    Today there needs to be a greater emphasis on KPIs that focus on increasing revenue rather than reducing cost, as well as new tools for managing workforce optimisation (WFO).

    2. The demands of Generation Y

    Gen-Y, or the Millenials, are the first generation to grow up with a computer in their homes and theyare the most tech-savvy customers that businesses have to deal with.

    They’re adept at searching for information online (self-serving), are as comfortable communicating on Facebook or twitter as they are on email or phone, and expect prompt, quality service.

    This customer-driven trend is leading to a requirement for organisations to be agile and adaptable in the user experience they offer. This means high availability, across an increasing number of channels, including social media. Businesses have to implement tools that empower the customer, enable self-service as much as possible, and take advantage of the technology that allows them to communicate across channels.

    3. Blended calling: the repurposing of outbound technology

    As part of the shift from cost to revenue, the line between inbound and outbound is blurring. Where inbound has previously meant handling sales and support, and outbound was limited to telemarketing and collections, the two are merging in the rise of the blended contact centre.

    This means agents can both make and receive calls using predictive dialling, and use the new technology for things like notice of account changes or appointment reminders.

    Driven by the C-level and contact centre managers, the challenges here are optimising agent productivity and utilising this new approach to boost customer satisfaction. This is possible with new technologies such as powerful predictive dialling solutions, advanced campaign management tools, as well as intuitive call scripting.

    4. Demand for unified suites

    With customers driving a requirement for brands to be available across multiple channels of communication, it’s no surprise that there is an increasing demand for technology that unifies these, while optimising efficiency and customer satisfaction.

    Where contact centres typically used multiple solutions from a variety of various providers, the demand has grown for vendors to provide end-to-end solutions that do the whole job, including everything from reporting to WFO, call distribution to interactive voice response (IVR).

    Driven by the C-level once again, this also benefits IT administrators as the time and effort spent managing multiple solutions reduces. An efficient unified solution can increase ease of use as well as lower the total cost of ownership for businesses.

    5. Contact centre as a service (CCaaS)

    In 2012, Aberdeen Group found that 34% of businesses were using a cloud-based contact centre, but by the end of 2013 six out of 10 contact centres will be in the cloud. The flexibility that can be offered by a cloud-based service enables businesses to balance costs and the customer experience, while focusing on strategic goals rather than infrastructure.

    It’s a trend that naturally appeals to the CTO and CIO, as well as the CFO, and one that addresses all the above. With cloud-ready software comes the flexibility to deploy unified, multichannel solutions that can handle blended calling and drive revenue for the business.