Seven emerging and future trends for contact centres
A significant number of industries and organisations experienced major business disruption throughout 2020. Government lockdowns and restrictions interrupted supply chains, forced the closure of some companies and required others to adapt to remote working where possible, while also accelerating the adoption of new technologies to facilitate changing working practices.
While last year brought about considerable changes to how society operates, it also provided lessons that contact centres can use to predict the unpredictable and plan for an uncertain future.
There has been a significant shift in the way that contact centres are managed and how agents are responding to changing customer behaviours and needs. This shift will impact two of the key factors in working from anywhere: people and technology.
Here are seven trends that will continue to change the way contact centres work in 2021 and beyond:
1: Shift to hybrid working environments
The transition to new working environments will see a changed need for workforce management and employee engagement management.
With increased flexibility, there will be more workers wanting to Work from Anywhere and at any time. Workforce management and engagement solutions will need to help manage people as well as their own schedules and workloads more easily.
2: Increased flexibility will expand the workforce
Working from anywhere, and at any time, has the potential to vastly expand the workforce, and even potentially integrate a gig economy style of working for contact centres.
Scheduling time for work provides more opportunities for people that only want to work part-time or casually, or with more flexible schedules to accommodate other priorities. This will also let older workers and those with carer responsibilities re-engage with the workforce as they have more access to remote working and part-time schedules.
3: Better access to resources
The changing face of the contact centre workforce presents new opportunities for the industry. COVID-19 highlighted the importance of business continuity and the value of having access to resources onshore.
The trend of contact centres coming back in-country can extend beyond the pandemic, and the flexibility and availability of new generations of workers can help overcome resourcing limitations.
4: Increased uptake of cloud software
As a direct result of the business disruption that organisations weathered in 2020, companies will continue to look to cloud solutions to protect their operations and ensure business resilience and continuity in times of crisis.
In terms of usage concerns, companies will look for solutions that offer elasticity and scalability that best meet their needs and requirements and better supervise contact centre agents by hosting contact centres centrally.
5: Increased adoption of digital solutions
Digital solutions will also be increasingly important to support human contact centre agents as they work from anywhere.
For every 100 people in a workforce, there might be 50 bots being deployed to support them. In terms of business continuity and consistency, this will raise challenges around what happens if a digital employee doesn't show up for work due to a system failure, for example.
As a result, there will be an increase in technologies being built to manage artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions like digital assistants. Human workers will also focus more on managing AI-based solutions and the digital workforce as they support human workers by completing more of the repetitive, rules-based, manual work, letting human contact centre agents focus on prioritising more complex tasks.
6: Continued investment in automation
To better support human agents, contact centres will invest more in integrated AI-based and analytics solutions.
Using AI-based solutions that automate the qualitative analysis of call monitoring, organisations will be able to put a numeric value on previously unquantifiable data sets such as agent behaviours or customer emotions.
Similarly, with continued investment in quality automation and analytics solutions, such as automating workflows, companies can better streamline agent and work management.
7: Increased engagement with analytics and business intelligence solutions
By further integrating customer interaction analytics software into their processes and combining these with ML-driven AI models, contact centre managers can assess new data insights and predictive behaviours in real-time.
This will provide actionable insights as calls happen, empowering agents to act on prescriptive real-time guidance with the help of virtual assistants.
Enhancing the employee experience will drive a more positive experience for customers, leading to better future engagements and increased loyalty. Also, contact centre managers will have access to key insights on churn, propensity to buy, fraud and client vulnerability, letting them act on agent behaviours before they can negatively impact the organisation.
The way technology and people interact and function together in the future will come together to form part of the ongoing transformation towards a more digital, flexible future for contact centres in 2021, and beyond.