Automation, data, predictive analysis, workforce management and customer relationship management have further improved how contact centers manage interactions in an effort to enhance the customer experience.
With the disruption caused by the global pandemic, the contact center industry was gravely impacted by increased call and customer interaction volumes, and the overwhelming push towards agent remote work. According to the Harvard Business Review, calls during the pandemic increased by 50%. 68% saw an increase in customer complaint escalations. With manual routing and escalation still the norm, hold times increased by 34% during the early phases of the pandemic.
Not a glowing review of our industry.
Two and a half years later, the contact center has transitioned and even pioneered the use of advanced technologies that not only seamlessly enable remote work – they allow companies to better engage and support customers in a highly customized manner.
In 2023, contact centers will continue to deploy even more advanced technologies, solutions and applications.
More than projected trends, here’s what you can expect to see in 2023:
The omnichannel contact center
If the pandemic taught us anything, people expect (and even demand) to connect with your business by whatever means possible, whenever, and wherever they want. Whether this means by phone, text, web, email or virtual assistant, customers want the ability to switch channel interactions while maintaining a seamless, cohesive experience.
An integrated omnichannel should be considered as a customer experience and customer engagement strategy that delivers an enhanced competitive advantage. By personalizing every step across the customer journey, an omnichannel contact center allows agents to effortlessly move across channels and interaction touchpoints. A properly executed omnichannel strategy must include seamlessly connected channels, fully integrated applications and intelligent routing – not to mention interactions that follow customers from channel to channel, collecting vital data along the way.
Cloud contact center solutions
As discussed by Tim Bushell in our blog “3 things you should never overlook when migrating to a cloud contact center,” moving to a cloud contact center solution provides enormous benefits for organizations looking to optimize the agent and customer experience. It’s no wonder that according to Gartner, over 95% of businesses will use cloud computing by 2025. With an incredibly rapid growth adoption rate, cloud computing will become the centrepiece of the new digital experience.
Optimize your IVR for more efficient use
It’s not going anywhere. IVR is still considered to be the core channel for all contact centers. With automation technology, remote work capabilities and advances in conversational artificial intelligence and speech recognition, IVR should be the improvement starting point focused on optimizing processes, technologies and uses. Even with all other channels, phone is still the best way to manage sensitive or high priority customer interactions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) improves the customer experience
AI is everywhere. If anything, the pandemic heightened the need for non-human interactions taking pressure off live agents and allowing customers to manage their own inquiries in a faster fashion. Though there has been a lot of industry hype and vast technological improvements, there is still some hesitancy in adopting AI.
With a series of autonomous and semi-autonomous AI-assisted software applications that streamline processes, artificial intelligence delivers significant benefits. From intuitively routing customer interactions to the most qualified agent, providing agents with predictive responses when resolving customer queries, to giving agents a unified understanding of the customer across all channels to provide a more personalized experience – artificial intelligence improves all aspects of the business.
Chat and chatbots are the future
Chat functions and the advent of chatbots have forever changed the way we communicate with businesses. Depending on demographics and the interaction type, chat is often the preferred communication channel – because it is immediate, interactive, 24/7 and requires no live agent support.
Used across industries, chatbots, conversational AI or virtual AI assistants can complete wide-ranging tasks from answering simple questions, scheduling or revising appointments, providing account and payment information, and so much more. Chat and chatbots should be considered a critical part of an integrated omnichannel solution that addresses the modern needs of customers.
Getting to 2023 and beyond
The contact center is a pressure cooker of activity with competing demands. Adopting and implementing new technologies to meet these demands should be seen as strategic initiatives that enhance every contact center metric – agent productivity and engagement, company profitability, customer engagement and experience, and more.
These are the 5 trends that will overtake our industry in 2023.
How about you? What do you think?