Call-Center-Agents-506x338Managing the customer experience is a bit like spinning plates – there are so many variables and complexities in the air that need constant upkeep and nurturing in order to ensure that customers’ needs are met.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is delivering a consistently good experience across all channels. Not only is the number of channels in use by consumers growing, but user preferences can vary hugely according to the individual and contact centres need to take these preferences into account.

Most modernised contact centres have come to grips with email and chat conversations, but many haven’t yet got a handle on social media, Skype, Whatsapp and conversations across mobile applications, all of which are quickly outstripping the traditional modes of communication.

Looking ahead at the next two years, we anticipate a number of trends that will have a major impact on the contact centre that need to be addressed now in order to be ahead of the pack.

When mapping out your CX strategy for the next 12 months and beyond we recommend taking the following six trends into account.

1) You’ll centrally manage the customer journey spanning marketing, sales and service from a single customer hub

It’s not a case of managing the SLA and average handle time (AHT) for each channel anymore. Now, customers expect that you will manage their journey and provide a rich and personal experience that feels the same whether they are speaking to you on the phone, on Twitter, or to a sales assistant in-store. Contact centres will find themselves transforming into hubs that not only make real-time decisions based on data and context that better serve customers, but also help businesses to deliver on their objectives such as reduced overheads and increased revenue streams.

2) You’ll wave goodbye to traditional metrics – Net Promoter Score (NPS) will reign supreme

 SLAs, average speed of answer (ASA), AHT and a host of other contact centre acronyms will be nudged down the priority list, to be replaced by Net Promoter Score. Arguably the only score you should care about as we head into the future, organisations will move towards more strategic spending of budgets, calculated and correlated with NPS growth and measured by CX metrics instead of traditional contact centre measures of success.

3) You’ll benefit from enterprises having contact centre software infrastructure ingrained in their architecture

The time where the contact centre software applications lived in a big grey box that occupied a vast amount of space in your server room or data centre is way behind us. Today’s modern contact centre applications are open, run on industry-standard hardware, and integrated seamlessly with the organisation’s overarching structure and IT strategy. Functions such as routing and reporting will be closely integrated with other business functions and based on the same service-oriented architecture principle as the rest of the business.

This approach will help businesses to establish the strongest possible link between their systems of record and their systems of engagement, enabling real-time, intelligent communications between the business and its customers across any and every channel.

4) You’ll use a single CX platform to drive quality and manage employees across the enterprise

Great people are required to deliver great customer experiences. A critical success factor, employee engagement levels can be assessed by looking for clear correlations between NPS and Employee Promoter Score, but there is a number of moving parts to consider.

There should be two criteria for choosing a CX platform for managing employees in order to build a modern contact centre operation. One that measures and manages the workforce, but that also monitors, coaches, analyses and helps you to plan resourcing without the need for manual data gathering or systems integration.

5) Your contact centre will be able to think thanks to cognitive systems

Matching the right employees to your customers is critical to achieving consistently great customer experiences. Analytics and big data applications will be integrated into the contact centre to automate these recommendations and business rules and feed instructions into the routing engine in real time. In future this technology will enable intelligent and intuitive virtual assistance. We expect that in the future virtual assistants will be the best performing agents, and completely removed from the ‘machines’ we think of when we think of virtual help now.

6) Your contact centres will be sensitive to customer emotions thanks to facial recognition and biometrics

With most communications happening over smart devices in the future, it will be a natural progression for contact centre software to take advantage of these devices’ capabilities. From GPS location data to communication across multiple channels at once (known as multimodality), smartphone camera authentication will become commonplace.
Through biometrics, customers can self-identify when talking with an agent by activating their device’s built-in camera. Less intrusive than voice biometrics and less susceptible to fraud, facial recognition can also pinpoint customer emotion and inform agent behaviour – if it’s obvious that a customer is visibly frustrated an agent will be able to use their judgement to provide the best experience possible.

Some of these changes might seem far-fetched at the moment, but could you have imagined asking your phone about the weather or sharing daily photos of your lunch with the world 10 years ago?

To learn more about the future of contact centre software, download the Forrester Report Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service right now.

Stefan Captijn

Stefan Captijn

Stefan is Senior Director Strategic Marketing at Genesys. Stefan joined Genesys in April 2000, lives in the Amsterdam area with his wife and two children. In his free time, Stefan enjoys building loudspeakers, cycling and running.