The future of contact centers – What to expect when you’re expecting

Customer service organizations have always been in a continuous struggle to respond to the ever-changing landscape of customer expectations.

In my experience, no other industry has had to adapt and evolve more quickly to the new era of the empowered consumer, the growing number of communication channels and the challenges of the new millennial employee. And the contact center, with its special position, seated at the crossroads of customers, channel and employees, has been leading the customer service evolution for decades.

In an increasingly complex, connected world the contact center is set to become the interaction hub of the digital enterprise – responsible for support, interaction, education and data gathering. But in its new role the contact center will have evolve to deal with more responsibilities and far more complex issues.

There are two main forces that are working together, intertwine, which have an enormous effect and impact to the customer service.

  • Cultural changes.
  • Technology

The "Today customer"

Millennials - the largest US population cohort Will soon be entering peak earning and spending years and already spend $1.3T($430B discretionary)

Shift in what matters for US consumers – things that have become less important "Luxury" and "Status", "wealth" has remained unchanged – those that are rising in importance – "value for money", "saving" and "stability" (same in Europe). Some other interesting values that have increasing importance: family, friends, home, environment, local communities.

Customers now expect to receive service from your organization on the channel of their choice, which might be voice, email, and SMS/text, web, mobile or social media.

According to the latest NICE survey (2015) among end customers:

  • 56% use multiple channels because they cannot reach resolution with a channel or it is not working well
  • An average of 5.8 channels were used by customers in 2013
  • 36% of customers use Self-Service on Website daily or weekly
  • 73% have used multiple contact methods in the past 6 months

Forrester in their recent survey found that web self-service was the most widely used communication channel for customer service, surpassing use of the voice channel for the first time.

Companies are beginning to provide service on all of these channels – but too often, those channels may exist in silos. According to Forrester 58% of companies inconsistently measure, or fail to measure their customer’s cross channel journey.

Digital transformation is paving the technology trend

Technology is creating a tremendous opportunity for any industry, while at the same time seriously complicating matters—the perfect definition of a disruptor. By having access to masses of real and factual data on customers, carriers are now able to expend their portfolio and offer additional services/products.

In the heart of the technology trend, lies the digital transformation. Every business today is going digital, of which Starbucks is probably its poster child.

The company's Mobile Order and Pay rollout has juiced sales. Its apps are driving sales velocity and technology partnerships are bolstering the vibe in Starbucks' locations.

I've learn 3 things from the digital transformation Starbucks have meticulously executed:

"Combining between the digital and physical worlds is a key element in the process for digital transformation.

It is about mobile first experiences, it’s the ultimate expression for digital.

The capabilities interact simultaneously with millions of customers and adapt the value offering specifically for each any everyone creates the most meaningful opportunity to personalize customers’ experiences, which is a trait that is highly sought for at our customers."

For over 30 years we, at NICE, have helped customer service organizations, and contact centers in particular, evolve by uncovering customer insight, predicting human intent and taking the right action to improve their business. We’ve always taken great pride in our unique perspective, at the forefront of supporting and enabling contact centers to respond to the complexities and challenges of creating perfect customer experiences.

As we partner with organizations large and small to bring them world-class workforce optimization (WFO), analytics and other advanced applications, we’ve done our part to help transform our industry from the call centers of the 80s and 90s to the modern contact center of today. We’ve seen our industry transition from voice to omni-channel recording, from simple to multi-skilled workforce management and from random to interaction analytics-based quality management. We’ve seen the introduction of performance management, desktop guidance & automation, voice of the customer, real-time authentication, customer journey analytics and many other additions to the range of solutions available to the contact centers of today.

We're living in exciting times​ and I for one, can’t wait to see how things will continue to evolve in the years to come.

Please join me in embracing the future of the contact center.