As businesses reopen, remote teams – and the cloud communications solutions that enable them – have become a staple in the pandemic-era contact center. Whether agents are remote or in the office, customer experience and superior engagement are still paramount when it comes to building loyalty and satisfaction.
Customer experience expert Steven Van Belleghem asked executives in the contact center space for their predictions on how the industry will change “post-Corona.” Many acknowledged that the physical contact centers of the past will continue to dissipate – evolving into groups of dispersed agents connected through the cloud. Cloud-based contact center solutions will not only allow these agents to seamlessly collaborate but will contribute to job satisfaction as virtualized agents skip their commutes to work from home.
“This does not mean that we expect that brick-and-mortar sites will disappear completely, but that there will be more freedom of choice for a service expert to…ensure a personal work/life balance,” said José Teunissen, project leader of innovation implementation at global e-commerce company Bol.com. “We strongly believe that being able to adapt working conditions and workload to individual preferences will ensure we attract a wider variety of service experts with different qualities and traits.”
When it comes to customer engagement, media channels such as text, video, and chat are gaining preference in the market in addition to web-based self-service through systems such as intuitive IVR solutions. This is especially true among tech-savvy and always-connected millennials who tend to turn to mobile and online sources and self-service in addition to – or even in place of – voice calling.
Since the pandemic began, customer service agents have been notoriously more difficult to reach via phone. Many callers must deal with long hold times due to high call volume or reduced staffing. As a result, it’s not surprising that voice interactions are expected to drop from 64 to 47% in the coming year, according to a call center trends report by business research company FinancesOnline.
The same report predicts that chat and messaging interactions will increase by 16% in the coming year, and 8% of customer interactions will be conducted via video chat. It also contends that “social media will emerge as a mainstream customer support channel across the industry,” in what it calls the “omnichannel customer-handling revolution” – allowing customers to deliver feedback and solicit two-way interactions through these always-accessible channels.
According to statistics from Time Doctor, a provider of contact center analytics, 62% of organizations said the biggest challenge in the future of contact center will be navigating the integration process. Contact center technologies that seamlessly integrate with back-office solutions such as CRM systems allow agents to access crucial customer information, including previous interactions and order histories.
These integrations allow agents to resolve issues more quickly – fostering richer and more satisfying customer experiences. In addition, as a greater variety of omnichannel communications become the norm in contact centers, embedded applications and/or easy integration with collaborative and video-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams will become more vital. Partners offering these advantages will have a competitive edge.
As the workplace continues to adjust to the remote paradigms brought on because of the pandemic, cloud-based contact center technologies will continue to play a more important role.
One key area where we can directly support the needs of contact center technology is workforce management (WFM). WFM refers to scheduling, forecasting, and adherence tracking within a contact center environment – key focus points for managers and team leaders who want to ensure their teams are hitting their goals and efficiently addressing customer needs. By adapting a contact center solution with built-in WFM capabilities, users can reduce the administrative load faced by the contact center by eliminating the need for external spreadsheets and “bolted-on” third-party solutions.