The 8 Most Important Call Center Trends To Watch In 2020

We’ve seen a lot of changes to the call center and customer experience landscape over the years, from cloud communications and virtual agents to more strategic thinking around analytics, more intentional social media conversations and innovative ways to involve artificial intelligence. And when the pandemic pushed businesses to modernize their business communications almost overnight, we’ve seen even more shifts in how businesses meet the evolving needs of both customers and their employees.

Earlier this year, Mitel identified nine technology trends that are helping companies deliver this kind of customer experience. Let's take a look at nine technology trends that are helping companies deliver the best quality customer experience. See how far your business has come in building customer relationships that last or which of these trends may need to be on this year’s to-do list.

artificial intelligence screen for customer interactions

1. Artificial intelligence integrated into customer interactions

Businesses are getting deeper into predictive analytics, using artificial intelligence (AI) applications to help streamline call center experiences for customers and agents.

We are seeing that, as early adopters continue honing AI applications for call routing, AI will become more widely applied. We also expect to see more connections forged between various media channels and streamlined call center response. Given this, it's worth investigating what contact center AI options might benefit your business. 

digital transformation hand on touchscreen

2. Digital transformation

Businesses have always tried to differentiate themselves on price or product quality. Today, however, we’re seeing that customers are more frequently looking for something more: a rewarding experience that leads to a long-lasting relationship with a business. Customer interactions are no longer stand-alone activities, and customers are demanding a more comprehensive and consistent experience.

Digital transformation, the application of advanced technologies that have completely restructured the modern business environment, is a big part of this. With advancements like unified omnichannel communications and machine-to-machine communications via the Internet of Things (IoT), a forward-looking digital transformation strategy is going to be key for businesses who want to stay competitive.

What should that strategy include? Businesses need to consider the whole of the customer experience: a truly digital contact center redefines the customer experience from start to finish. And it’s not just about using the right channels to interact with customers where they are; the smartest businesses (of all sizes) are integrating technologies to provide full customer context with each interaction and leveraging system data to provide proactive service. Further, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools, like team collaboration applications, will be strategically important for contact centers, because they enable employees to leverage the collective intelligence of the whole business. Vendors that offer applications with open APIs provide new levels of customization and integration to help deliver a truly seamless customer experience.

contact center agent viewing better analytics on computer

3. Better contact center analytics

Gone are the days of relying on supervisor skill and know-how to get the most out of a contact center agent. Now, even smaller businesses are taking advantage of sophisticated analytics to turn data – like call and screen recordings, chats, SMS messages and more – into truly useful feedback for their agents.

It’s not enough to rely on manual observation and monitoring, as there’s just too much information.

More omnichannel call centers are starting to rely heavily on analytics programs to build dashboards with the statistics that affect their businesses. We saw more and more businesses display this kind of statistical dashboards on user interfaces, so call agents and managers are getting real-time updates on customer experiences.

In general, we expect more advancements in analytics as companies continue to implement more unified communications platforms and strategies.

omnichannel communication contact center

4. Omnichannel communications for all

A huge hot button in previous years, omnichannel communications has continued to separate proactive businesses from their more reactive counterparts in 2019. A holistic view of the customer experience, factoring in an omnichannel approach, has so far helped businesses give customers a more personal feel to resolutions.

More businesses are recognizing that while a customer journey may begin on one channel, valuable insight and feedback from the customer is taking place on a completely different channel. An effective social media presence is helpful here, as customers want a place they can go to give quick feedback and learn about their favorite businesses. But the way businesses approach their social media conversations is changing.

It’s not enough to make witty posts or share images. Customers are looking for a two-way social media conversation, and when they interact with businesses online, they expect a personalized (and immediate) response.

Responsive businesses are using this trend to create a superb customer experience by unifying communications across channels into one stream. This helps their customers by connecting them with an agent who knows their purchase and service history and provides valuable context. Most importantly, the two-way conversation is public on a social media platform, so other customers can see how the business solved the problem.

Negative feedback can be killer online, and unanswered negative comments make potential customers wary. If you positively resolve issues quickly and in a way that makes it clear the customer is central to the conversation, it leaves your business looking intelligent, caring, and motivated by the customer experience.

contact center people adopting cloud communications

5. Widespread adoption of cloud communications in call centers

Many businesses have already adopted cloud communications as part of their communications strategies, but cloud communications has become particularly important for contact centers. The steady increase in remote call agents has made cloud communications a necessity for businesses who want to take advantage of seamless team communications and collaboration. With cloud communications, traditional office-based contact centers can take on new locations, grow and contract workforces as market needs demand it. 

Moving to the cloud also doesn’t have to happen all at once. Vendors that offer hybrid cloud options can help you phase your organization into the cloud at your own speed or create a tailored architecture that leverages the best of multiple deployment models based on your business needs. For example, a contact center with an on-premises solution could implement a cloud-based webchat system, without needing to completely reinvest in infrastructure up front.

customer satisfaction measurement on smartphone

6. Improving employee engagement and empowerment to increase agent retention

The pandemic’s impact on business has been far reaching. Now more than ever, it is imperative that businesses remain competitive, not just in the ways they serve customers, but also in the ways they engage with their employees. Just as customer expectations have evolved in the last few years, so have the expectations of the employees that make quality customer experience possible. And dissatisfaction in work environment and culture has led to high agent attrition in the contact center space and beyond.

Businesses that want to remain competitive will provide their employees with thculture and technology that empowers an efficient, productive, and flexible workforce.

remote call center agent on the phone

7. Companies offer flexible working options to attract and retain employees

Lower overhead, time zone flexibility, and flexible working hours have made remote contact center workers a stable trend in 2022. With constantly improving unified communications, remote workers have become a permanent (and beneficial) part of the contact center environment. By using collaboration tools, contact center agents can be mobile, with access to real-time analytics and customer context.

In 2022, giving agents the flexibility to work remotely or in the office (i.e. hybrid working) remains the most common model, but for some CX professionals, there is a desire to bring at least some remote working agents back on-site.

woman using self-serve documentation on computer

8. Continued focus on AI-powered self-service tools

So far, we’ve seen a greater emphasis on self-service problem-solving information on business websites. The high priority on process improvement and self-service since the pandemic helps address the issue of increasing workload for contact center agents, as well as the difficulties around achieving the desired service levels or Average Speed of Answer (ASA).

Giving customers information quickly helps reduce call volumes, and easy-to-navigate FAQs help narrow down calls to those with sufficiently complex issues. Quick access to self-serve solutions also provides an emotional benefit to customers (that DIY-fix high!), and reduces overall call times.

two way social media conversation between people

9. SMB’s leveraging all employees to support customers

As small and mid-sized businesses balance to meeting customers’ changing needs and expectations and effectively competing with larger enterprises, SMBs are extending traditional contact center agent desktop features to employees that work outside of the contact center in order to supplement the formal customer-facing employees.

Blended UC/CC solutions that bring customer and employee experiences together into a single user experience tear down the silos between traditional contact center agents and the rest of the organization. SMBs are starting to realize that giving all employees access to a blended UC/CC desktop helps them deliver better service to both internal and external customers which makes for more loyal and engaged customers and employees.

Call center and customer experience trends to activate

These nine trends have already made an impact on the contact center landscape this year. Has your contact center implemented any of these? Better yet, are they working for you? If you need more help figuring out how to apply them to your business, get on a more strategic footing with our contact center solutions.

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