Call centres twenty years ago traditionally were open-plan offices where agents all work together. It was essential for agents to be physically present, operating from their desktop workstations. However, over the last two decades, the world has been embracing digital transformation and as a result the call centre operating model continues to dramatically change. The advances in technology paired with the surge in remote and hybrid working environments has inspired wide spread adoption of VoIP telephony systems across call centres. But, just what will call centres look like in a decade's time?
Driver of Customer Experiences
Consumers are demanding excellence in customer service, when reaching out to call centres, like never before. A good customer experience leaves consumers feeling heard and appreciated. Callers of the future will continue to crave human driven interactions. Some customers have sighted an experience disconnect where companies have over leveraged the latest technology or design, but haven’t focused or invested in the most meaningful aspects of customer experience involving human touch points, which can diminish the customer’s experience.
Call centres of the future will enforce the importance of communication speed, convenience, consistency, friendliness and above all will demand sophisticated human empowered conversations. Call handling teams will continue to create real connections, leveraging the right technology but emphasising the need for genuine real-time conversations, to create long term customer experiences. Excellence in customer service will become the differentiator of one call centre over another. Call centres will need to hire, train and nurture talented call responders to ensure excellence in customer service is achieved.
Integration & Policy Upgrades
Call centres will continue to take leaps to maximise technical integration of systems. At Zadarma, we have had a significant number of call centre managers introducing the PBX phone system and pairing this with a CRM system, like the Teamsale CRM, to ensure an ultimately unified communication solution. With remote working set to stay, call centre working processes will become more enriched with customer relationship management integrations and remote CRM policies to ensure customers are protected and serviced effectively remotely.
Social Media Platforms
Social communication is a transparent open platform where customer feedback can be openly reported in real time. It is essential that customer relationships and servicing levels stay optimised to ensure positive customer feedback. Businesses have already started to compete to offer the best customer service standards and perks, inviting customers to write a review on social media, so they can promote the contact centre’s high level of service.
Customer Service Driven Web Chat & Virtual Assistants
Live web chat applications have been widely integrated into customer facing websites. These are often powered by call centres agents. Advances such as ChatGPT have opened the world’s eyes to a generation of sophisticated chatbots capable of interacting so closely with humans that they will free up agents from the most routine tasks to focus on processes with the highest added value or those that are more complicated to solve. In the future, faceless web chat interactions will advance further, with video-based live chat to assist with customer queries. Video web chat has huge potential, because it allows agents to develop a more personal connection with customers through face to face chat, where you can read body language and the customer can show the agent product's intricacies. Call centres will need more agents dedicated to servicing conversational AI like web chat channels and ensuring the right agent ‘pop ups’ appear on their websites at the right time, to capture the customer opportunity.
AI Is Here To Stay
Virtual assistants will continue to replace human agents, in some instances along the customer journey. Virtual responders can help teams better serve customers, drawing on data analytics similar to chatbots. These probes are providing agents with suggestions on how best to tend to customers. Currently we are seeing AI being implemented to answer the frequently asked questions (FAQs) around recurring topics. AI systems will advance in proposing best actions, to ensure that call centre discussions progress further and faster.
Aside from more advanced chatbots and virtual assistants, AI used in call centres is set to accelerate. AI can automate simple tasks, provide in-depth analysis, and help agents achieve a faster response time, better first-call resolution, and can create happier customer service agents who have the tools to do their job better. Some examples of these are:
Predictive Call Routing
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Explosion of Data with Speech Analytics
Predictive call routing is when AI will match call centre customers to specific customer service agents who are best able to handle an issue -- whether it be because of personality models, or expertise. This technology relies on customer behaviour profiles to give AI technology a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey and customer personas. Meaning customer service can be personalised to each customer. Therefore you can match communication habits and each query with the best-equipped agents to deal with specific types of customers and queries to speed up call handling cadence.
IVR is the AI that most of us have interacted with during our customer service experiences. This is when you answer recorded questions such as what language you speak, your name, account number, etc. IVR is set to continue to be widely used across call centres however it will become more personalised in time.
Call analytics with data analytics will continue to advance. One of the main ways that AI is used in call centres presently is to provide in-depth analytics on such KPIs around call times and first resolution. These technologies can spot trends and have access to customer data that will provide insight on whether customers are having a positive or negative experience. Since AI measure’s customer sentiment, tone, and personality. Call analytics will continue to assist in the optimisation of call centre call handling performance.
Knowing quantitative data around who calls, how many times, duration of the call, is no longer enough. It is even more important to understand the usage journey of the customer as well as the qualitative elements. For instance what is said, how it is said, keywords that are repeated, etc. Therefore contact centre will need to leverage further VoIP assisted features such as speech analytics and transcription that allows for subsequent analysis of information to look for patterns both when looking for business opportunities and to evaluate one's own performance.
Following on from speech analytics, speech recognition is set to continue to advance and be leveraged within call centre practices. This is the capability which enables a program to process human speech into a written format. Speech recognition is being more widely offered through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone telecommunication features. Many mobile devices incorporate speech recognition into their systems to conduct voice search which can provide greater accessibility around texting to a wider pool of customers of all disabilities and mobilities. The benefits of speech recognition lie around how it can be a key driver of revenue growth and efficiency while streamlining and reducing traditional or legacy business processes. Speech recognition AI can not only allow you to listen to call recordings and see their text transcription, but also provide you with the visibility of call analytics data for further internal business processing, analysis and improvements. Call centres can create training plans off the back of this collected data and continue to nurture and optimise their team’s call handling performance.
The ‘Internet of Things’
Customers of today, already have become accustomed to machine’s answering calls before being routed to a human respondent. The “internet of things” is already changing the way businesses operate and this is set to advance in years to come. With the rise of remote working and the ability to tap into systems and devices anyway, call centres are looking to be set up more widely and faster, due to the rise to a world where almost everything is connected. There are hints of appliances and products being able to self diagnose their problems and automated messages being sent to contact centres for queries to be picked up without customers lifting a finger. Consumer behaviours continue to shift and their buying attitudes are set to advance. In the future consumers may look for products with integrated customer care help, which exaggerates the need for future customer services to be the best the world can offer.
Call centres will continue to evolve. Artificial intelligence is already handling repetitive and simple calls by automating a portion, or all of a customer call. Call centre agents are feeling happier and more supported as they have more time to handle more sophisticated calls. However in time, we are likely to see lower call volumes to human agents and therefore lighter, more tech savvy workforces required within dispersed call centre settings. Despite the advancements in AI, along with integrations and the level of automation set to come in the future, there will always be complicated issues that AI and technology simply will not be able to handle. Data and technology will advance but see it as a needed enabler to lift customer experiences to a new level of sophisticated excellence. Call centres team will become smaller, more productive, but will need to deliver engaging and personally satisfying customer servicing conversations and inspiring experiences for the demanding customers of the future.
If you would like to understand how Zadarma’s PBX can assist your call centre, contact our online support team for any assistance.