With customer experience increasingly becoming one of the most significant differentiators for products in recent years, the role of the contact center in an organization is gaining prominence. Emerging technologies and changing consumer behavior are driving change in the way contact centers are providing support to customers and engaging with them.
Here are six key trends that we believe will mould the contact center of the future.
Customers prefer self-service to human agents: San Francisco-based self-service SaaS software vendor MindTouch reports1 that, according to Forrester, 79% of customers prefer self-service over contacting human agents for support. If you read that along with the fact that 75% of all online customers expect support to come to their aid within five minutes2, it’s clear that human agents won’t likely get around to responding to most customers’ first requests for support on time.
Clearly, the future of customer support is in self-service. And businesses need to invest in relevant technologies, whether chatbots or voice recognition tools, to address this trend.
Online experiences build first impressions: According to Microsoft’s 2017 State of Global Customer Service Report3, 75% of global respondents have used a search engine to find answers to service-related questions before calling an agent, and 74% have used a self-service support portal. In fact, 90% of respondents have said they expect brands and organisations to offer an online portal for self-service.
Since customers begin their support journey online, businesses need to make as much information as possible available online and provide customers with tools that support self-service.
Mobility is on the rise: Increasingly, customers begin their search for service support using their mobile devices. 33% of respondents in the Microsoft study – jumping to 43% for millennials – said they use their mobile devices to initiate customer service engagements.
Therefore, it is imperative for businesses to ensure that their service experience is optimized across devices, and for this, businesses may need to invest in emerging technologies like the cloud that support mobility.
Humans are needed for complex queries: Customers prefer getting on the phone with an agent, using video, and email – in that order – for complex interactions, reports Deloitte (2017 Global Contact Center Survey4).
While businesses need to invest in AI so that routine queries from customers can be responded to instantly by chatbots, more complex queries will still need to be routed to a human agent.
Customers interact with businesses across multiple channels: According to Deloitte, while voice will remain the prominent channel for customer interaction, it’s likely to fall from 64% of contacts to 47% in 2019. In comparison, chat and messaging is expected to grow from 6% to 16%.
Customers will connect with brands for support through multiple channels and businesses should be able to provide a unified experience to customers across all channels.
Social media is on the rise: Deloitte also expects social media to expand from 4% of contact center interactions today to 9% in 2019.
Brands need to recognize the growing significance of social media in providing customer support. They need to develop a social media strategy that helps them to listen in and respond quickly to customer complaints that arise on social media.
A Litmus Test
For a simple rule of thumb to check if you’re meeting customer expectations regarding speed of service, remember customers expect responses to emails within 4 hours, social media posts in 1 hour, phone calls in 2 minutes, and live chat in 30 seconds5.