You may be running a great company with a thriving contact center today, but there’s one thing you can be sure of: come 2020, the face of customer service will be substantially different from how it is today. The real question is, are you ready for 2020, or will you be struggling to catch up when the time comes?
Let’s take a look at some of the big trends happening today, and see what we can do to prepare our contact centers for the future.
Invest in the Omnichannel Approach
Probably the biggest trend in the industry today is the move towards “omnichannel support.” Contact centers used to be mostly voice support. There’s a reason they used to be called “call centers.”
Today, customers expect to be able to connect with a company through voice, email, chat, IVR, mobile apps, or social media, and they expect the experience to be seamless. A study from Dimension Data shows that by 2020, customers expect nine different channels of support, the chief of which is social media by around 52.4%, web chat by 44.3%, mobile apps by 41.6% and proactive self-service by 31.0%.
Contact centers need to start shedding the call/email/chat divide today, and keep everyone in a unified system. You will need to have mobile applications in your repertoire, and these apps must be capable of identifying customers through all channels, and route them between channels and agents seamlessly. Then it needs to be able to provide all the information related to that customer to whichever agent the customer ends up with in a timely, organized manner.
It’ll be a huge change, but it’s the single most important change a contact center needs to make by 2020. Moving your systems to the cloud may be the easiest way to streamline your systems into a lean one that can take on multiple channels. The cloud is already a must in some form for all contact centers, with 60.5% of contact centers already making the move.
Get your Social Media in Gear
Social media is the next big contact point for customer service. In a 2016 study, The Economist found that 63% of customers believe social media to be the top customer service contact point by 2020. Conversely, most business today acknowledge the need to pay attention to social media, but do not engage their customers there and instead redirect them to other channels.
This works for the short term, but it’s a huge missed opportunity. Not having that social media presence will increasingly be seen as a brand disconnecting intentionally from its customers.
Contact centers will need a team in place to handle marketing and customer support through social media, and have the knowledge infrastructure from their omnichannel approach to bring the data to and from this team to the rest of the contact channels in the company.
Engage your Employees on Their Terms
There’s one worrisome trend for employers that’s coming to light, and it’s that the workforce is changing significantly.
It’s not good news for contact centers.
That’s because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find people who are a good fit for the typical contact center agent life.
Today’s applicants are less than excited about being an agent doing a nine hour shift serving customers, and it’s only going to get worse as the allure of alternatives in the gig economy become more commonplace. Acknowledging the gig economy and putting it to your company’s advantage might be ideal.
Finding someone will to work a few hours a week at home is a lot easier than finding people committed to a minimum nine hour shift with mandatory overtime in the office. Working from home has been shown to result in 22% more productive and happier employees. The gig economy is a significant source of staffing if contact centers are able to shift to this.
There are a lot of obstacles for any contact center on the path to 2020, but meeting these trends and working to a solution today can help keep you in shape for years to come.