Who doesn’t have a nightmare call center story to tell? And if you think it’s bad from the customer perspective, try working in one! (I know they are not all that bad, but…)
Fortunately, the times they are a changin’. And if your company hasn’t updated it’s call center model lately, odds are you’re losing customers.
Today’s podcast interview guest is Kevin Krempulec , VP and General Manager responsible for Canada of contact center technology firm, Genesys, and we discuss contact center challenges and the way forward.
Time For The Connected Call Center
These days customers expect to be able to the contact companies from which they buy in any way, at any time of day. The modern contact center has to be able to cope not only with telephone calls for support, but also with
- live chat,
- text messages, and
- several social media platforms.
Although many people still use the term “call center”, these centers really are becoming omnichannel contact centers. In fact, according to Krempulec, this year there will be more digital interactions with contact centers than voice ones. If you have kids in their teens or twenties, this probably won’t surprise you; they hate using phones for speaking to people!
Most companies are still struggling to cope with the sudden surge omnichannel service expectations. They may be tied down by legacy systems, which don’t play well with others. That’s why you so often have the frustration of having to repeat the same basic information to one person after another as you try to get your problem resolved.
Companies like Genesys are trying to find ways to solve these problems, but it isn’t easy, and we are clearly at a time of transition on the world of customer support.
What’s On The Horizon for Contact Centers?
In the short run, says Krempulec, most companies will be focused on simply trying to come to terms with the reality of omnichannel customer service.
Video-Based Customer Service
That will include adding in new options, such as video-based call center conversations. Now your call centre reps will not only have to be pleasant on the phone, they’ll have to look good!
More significantly, video chat means that they won’t be able to deal with multiple calls at once, which will require a re-think of how contact center teams are structured and run.
On the plus side, the video connection may prove a much more powerful way to engage with customers and generate up-sales. And it might not actually end up costing more to resolve problems — think about the time currently wasted as both sides type, and then wait for the other side to type back, and get distracted dealing with something else in the meantime, which means that it takes even more time to resolve a problem.
One direct, focused video chat may be far more effective than text-based communications, and better able to provide an empathetic connection with the customers than telephone-only calls can do.
Next on the horizon are more effective ways of proactively reaching out to customers at just the right moment. As we increase our skill at linking what customers are doing in every channel, it becomes easier for staff to know what a customer is likely to need or be looking for at any given time.
Predictive analytics can tell a contact center agent, based on that customer’s past with the company, and layering in demographic or other data, that this customer is likely to be in the market for a particular product. So it becomes easier to offer the right product at the right time, even if the customer hadn’t known that it existed.
Internet of Things Impact on the Contact Center Role
It is going to take a few more years, but we are starting to see the Internet of Things (IOT) appear on the horizon, and it, too will dramatically change how we sell to and serve customers.
We are already seeing early signs of it with products such as Amazon Dash, which will automatically order more of a product for you when you are running low. Cars already tell you when they need which types of maintenance. It won’t be long before the car looks at your calendar and knows your behavior patterns well enough to actually book the service call automatically. (I’m looking forward to the self-driving car that will take itself in for repairs, so I don’t have to hang around the shop!)
Obviously, there’s a lot to be worked out before systems like this work well in our lives, but it does seem to be the direction we are headed, and it is going to continue revolutionizing the role of what used to be called the “call center“.