September 20, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
Ooo! Ahh! Have you seen the latest piece of emerging technology in the contact center?
Okay, fair point. Maybe the rotary telephone isn’t “emerging tech”, but it is the crux of customer service, and the origins of the contact center are closely tied to phone communications. The first true contact center, (or centre, in this case) was UK-based Birmingham Press and Mail, which had dozens of agents developing customer contact relationships. However, the term “contact centre” wasn’t recognized by the OED until 1983.
The 1980s and 1990s saw the rise of toll-free telephone numbers, telephone sales, international expansion, and the use of computer systems to create efficiencies.
But what about 2000? And 2010? And 2020? The future is upon us, and emerging technology in the contact center isn’t slowing down. In fact, as the Age of Convenience creates a new era of contact center technologies, their development only seems to be speeding up.
Resiliency In The Face Of Change
“Technology is always changing” is a theme this week in our blog, but only because it’s a theme every day for those embedded in the tech world. The average company lifespan continues to decrease, while the rate of innovation and growth increases. Change is constant and adapting for that change is absolutely necessary.
How do contact centers utilize emerging technologies strategically? The trick is planning and basing decisions around business goals. Not every exciting new technology or platform or product is going to solve all your business woes. You need to build a roadmap that fills in solutions to overcome obstacles to your goals.
Want to find out more about a contact center roadmap? Check out our free eBook – Customers Drive, You Navigate: Your Contact Center Roadmap To Customer Care Success.
Emerging Technology In The Contact Center: Trends
The cloud enables optimization. Contact centers especially benefit from the scalability, efficiency, and end-to-end support cloud computing models provide. Read our ultimate guide to cloud storage and deployment models, and then think about how contact centers can benefit.
The cloud gives businesses greater flexibility over data management processes, whether that’s storage, processing, computing, or collaborative tools. Greater flexibility means increased agility; businesses can respond to changes in the market, new emerging technologies, and the changing needs of their clients.
Ditch the landline and pick up the cell. Add chat, video, email, web tools, IoT, social media, and whatever else is coming ‘round the bend. If you do all that, add every possible means of communication, you’ll still only have a multichannel experience.
Omnichannel is about integration. Each of these communication tools might be one step in any customer’s journey through your contact center. Finding ways to pull these different tools together into a seamless experience is essential to an era where convenience is everything.
This is a technology that is both incredibly promising and incredibly frustrating for consumers. Most people can easily recall a terrible IVR experience.
One of the most important elements to explore when examining emerging technology for the contact center is the use of voice technologies that can engage and respond to the intent of the consumer, which, of course, brings us to AI, machine learning, and the magical Internet of Things (IoT).
“Hey Google, play Moana on the Chromecast.”
“Alexa, buy me a new cat collar.”
It really is wondrous what the IoT now provides consumers. But how does that affect the contact center?
“Hey Google, my fridge light isn’t turning on!”
Though we’re not quite there yet, it isn’t long until customers use the IoT (and the AI and machine learning behind those “things”) to begin their customer journey. Whether it’s a broken device, an erring of a frustration, or a desire, the IoT will be an integral first step in bringing the customer from their kitchen – or car, living room, classroom, workplace – to your contact center.
Need a new lightbulb that fits your Frigidaire 2000? The contact center has you covered. Your IoT device will search for the device on online shopping platforms, find you installation instructions, connect you to the right CSR without going through a complicated IVR, and help you find solutions in real-time.
Customer Experience Comes First
The trouble with emerging technology in the contact center – and really emerging tech anywhere – is that it often proceeds the strategic insight necessary to use it effectively. Connecting your contact center to the IoT seems a logical progression in developing an omnichannel experience, but done quickly, it will likely only elicit frustration from your customers.
The customer experience must always come before the technology. Identifying customer needs, customer preferred channels, and your customer’s journey is the first step to determining which, if any, emerging tech belongs in your contact center.
Like what you read?
Contact us today to discuss how to use emerging technology in the contact center to grow your business.
Mindsight, a Chicago IT consultancy and services provider, offers thoughtfully-crafted and thoroughly-vetted perspectives to our clients’ toughest technology challenges. Our recommendations come from our experienced and talented team of highly certified engineers and are based on a solid understanding of our clients’ unique business and technology challenges.
About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.