This article was updated on 28th January 2021.
The contact center remains one of the most important departments in any business today, regardless of the industry or type of customer you're serving.
When more consumers than ever value a positive experience above considerations such as cost when deciding which companies to do business with, having an effective, responsive contact center - whether this is getting in touch via phone, email, web chat or social media - can be a key factor that separates the best-performing firms from the competition.
For instance, research by PwC notes that customers are prepared to pay a price premium of up to 16% for a good customer experience, not to mention the loyalty boost companies can get. Meanwhile, one in three (32%) would abandon a firm after just one negative experience, so it's essential firms get this right.
As PwC found, 82% of people in the US want more human interaction in how they deal with businesses, the contact center is especially important. But old-fashioned banks of phones and agents won't be enough to meet consumers' ever-growing expectations.
Therefore, it's vital to invest in the latest technology to meet the needs of customers and give themselves an edge. Fortunately, there are many options available that you can use to transform their contact center. Here are seven you need to be considering.
1. Robotic process automation
In the contact center, Robotic process automation (RPA), can be used to automate the most straightforward and transactional tasks, freeing up agents to deal with more complex matters.
It can also reduce the risk of human error and even boost morale among agents by reducing the need for tedious, repetitive tasks and enabling them to spend more time on more enjoyable activities - and happy employees translates directly to happier customers.
2. Predictive analytics
Being able to spot patterns and predict what issues are likely to arise before they occur greatly improves both the efficiency and level of service offered by contact centers. For example, predictive analytics tools can identify which customers are most likely to respond positively to follow-up contacts, or flag up high-risk customers for additional focus. IT can also be used to monitor the performance of agents and spot any issues that need to be addressed with more training.
Chatbots in contact centers have been growing in popularity in recent years, with over 50% of enterprise companies predicted to spend more money on chatbot development than on mobile app creations by 2021, according Gartner, and the chatbot market estimated to be worth $1.25 billion by 2025. They can use tools like AI, RPA, and natural language processing to complete simple queries quickly without the need for human agents to get directly involved.
This means happier customers across the board, as those with mundane requests can get help immediately from the AI, while those with more complex needs will find it easier to get through to human agents who aren't having to deal with large volumes of basic queries.
4. Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) technology can also help contact centers be more proactive in how they deal with customers. For example, if a home appliance has a sensor installed that can detect any anomalies and predict when it might fail, this information can allow contact centers to get in touch with customers proactively to arrange for preventative maintenance, rather than waiting for the user to contact them after it has already broken.
5. Passive voice biometrics
Voice biometrics are increasingly used to verify callers' identities and initiate anti-fraud procedures, but they often still require people to go through a tedious authentication process. However, passive voice biometrics can eliminate this requirement, analyzing callers' voices as they engage in natural conversation with an agent in the first few seconds of a call.
The latest solutions offer much greater accuracy than in previous years and can speed up the verification process, as well as enabling other secure services, such as password resets, to be completed without human intervention.
6. Smart desktops
Traditionally, agents in many contact centers will have used multiple systems to gain access to all the tools and applications needed to do their job, such as CRM software, which not only makes them less efficient, but can also create security risks.
Smart desktops use a combination of tools including single sign-on, more intuitive user interfaces and additional guides to greatly streamline and simplify the process. As well as ensuring users only have to work with a single set of login credentials, this boosts productivity and the quality of service, as more information will be available at their fingertips, and also makes it much easier for agents to collaborate and connect with other departments.
For many contact centers, the costs of hardware such as handsets and PBX lines are among their biggest expenses, but as specialized communications platforms become available, more firms are moving away from this to take a more software-focused approach.
As well as the cost benefits, softphone services allow agents to work from any location, thereby helping promote flexible and remote working, and also offer a wide range of call management and analytics features, as well as greater personalization and customization opportunities.