Customer Contact Technology Trends for 2015
As customer service organisations evolve to keep pace with the unprecedented development of personal consumer technologies and digital delivery, it's essential that their core customer service technology infrastructure is in shape to handle changing customer expectations, according to customer contact technology firm Sabio.
The company has compiled its top fifteen trends list that it believes will have the greatest impact on customer contact strategy over the coming year, from changes in infrastructure, to developments in core systems, to key innovations in the field.
"The UK is setting the standard when it comes to innovative customer service delivery in Europe, but 2015 is no time for service providers to hold back on innovation - particularly as mobile, social, cloud and big data continue to drive new opportunities," explained Sabio's founding director Adam Faulkner.
The company's top five key infrastructure trends for 2015 are as follows:
- Explosion of personal digital customer devices set to fundamentally change the dynamic of customer engagement. Some Sabio customers report that up to 40% of contacts are already coming from smart devices, and this proportion will accelerate further during 2015. Equipped with the latest smartphones and tablets, many customers now have access to far more advanced technology than most contact centres - increasing the challenge for organisations looking to differentiate their service offering through contact centre technology innovations.
- Platform for next generation service delivery - with many organisations delaying infrastructure investment until the economic recovery was more established, 2015 will see a continued drive to upgrade core contact centre infrastructure platforms to better support additional customer channels and enable further advanced integration features.
- Shifting contact centre services toward the edge - the opportunity to take advantage of innovative smart device technologies such as biometric fingerprint readers, intelligent apps and 4G connectivity is enabling the introduction of a new generation of 'edge services' - with dedicated applications such as Visual IVR and Identification & Verification solutions deflecting traditional demand and opening up the possibility of significant operational contact centre savings.
- Next-generation Voice as intelligent embedded service platform - WebRTC, the open source project that effectively turns the Web into an open communication platform, is poised to support the introduction of truly intelligent embedded service. Look out for potential developments such as click-to-call or click-to-video chat directly from apps, as well as live product demos and Amazon Mayday-style remote support - but from a more open communications environment.
- Cloud deployment model gains momentum - While a hosted deployment approach is proving increasingly attractive for smaller, sub 150-seat contact centres, many larger enterprise customer service operations with upwards of 1,000-seats remain committed to the on premise model. 2015 will see some blurring of this distinction, with larger organisations now looking to also take advantage of the kind of flexible pricing, competitive features and rapid deployment offered by hosted solutions.
The five core solution innovations to watch in 2015 are:
- Resolving the PCI compliance challenge - making contact centre payments PCI-compliant has always been challenging. 2015 will see organisations transition toward a next generation secure voice approach that effectively de-scopes the contact centre in PCI terms, avoiding the need to expose customer card data to the contact centre in the first place.
- Knowledge & Case Management - with more people using the contact centre as their escalation channel, the reality is that advisors are handling fewer and fewer 'standard calls'. This will see a continued requirement in 2015 for smarter agents, but also for the kind of Knowledge & Case Management and Agent Desktop solutions that will provide agents with the expertise and tools needed to do address more complex customer requirements.
- Analytics set for significant growth - demand for speech and text analytics technologies will continue to strengthen in 2015, particularly as price/performance improves and pre-configured solutions become available. Effective analytics will help customer service organisations put the power of Big Data to better use, particularly as the emphasis shifts from post call analytics questions to real-time answers that can add value to customer interactions.
- Adopting a more intelligent approach to security - Gartner suggests that 'security can't be a roadblock that stops all progress'. That's particularly important for contact centres, where there's a growing requirement for a more nuanced balance between rigorous risk management and the continued need to reduce Customer Effort.
- More intelligent Virtual Assistants - Integrating Virtual Assistant technology with high traffic web pages such as FAQs, or embedding them in mobile applications can provide organisations with a cost-effective way to handle frequently repeated queries. Linked to both knowledge management databases and the core contact centre platform, users will also be able to request web chat or callback sessions if they're not able to resolve their queries directly.
Finally, the top five target strategic innovations for 2015 are:
- Tighter integration between online channels and the contact centre - although often managed by different parts of the business, organisations need to recognise that it's all the same to customers. A poorly designed web page not only frustrates customers, but for the largest organisations can easily result in thousands of unnecessary calls into the contact centre. Similarly, context-sensitive embedded online service applications can draw on web chat or callback resources, resolving queries and enabling customers to progress to the next stage of the process.
- Just Do It! - With so many contact channel varieties on offer, many customer service organisations aren't sure what to do next. 2015 will see a much greater acceptance that it's OK to be tactical about channels, and the odds are that you'll achieve better results from assisted website service, web chat or text insight pilot projects than you might by waiting around for an end-to-end strategic Digital Customer Service roadmap to appear.
- Removing barriers to service - whether it's closing the gap between assisted and live service, or ensuring greater context across multiple channels, it's clear that offering a single, consistent, experience is one of the key factors in making life easier for customers. Whether it's simplifying commuting with personal travel cards such as Oyster, or apps such as Uber for transport, or taking the pain out of payment with new initiatives such as ApplePay, as consumers we're increasingly familiar with service innovations that seem like they've always been there. Organisations need to apply the same thinking when it comes to innovating in order to reduce their Customer Effort scores.
- Start doing social properly - the majority of businesses haven't yet integrated full social media monitoring, analysis and response platforms into their contact centres - indeed most are still tied up with how quickly they're able to respond to social interactions. In 2015 contact centres need to take this further by actually listening to what's being said on social networks and acting on social content as part of their broader CRM strategy.
- Customer Service becomes everybody's job in 2015 - Siloed organisations can often make the truly integrated customer journey especially difficult to achieve, and that's definitely the case when Marketing, Digital, Sales and Customer Service all operate independently. Contact centres need to play a stronger role in addressing this during 2015, particularly if other parts of the business are to benefit from seamless hand-offs between digital, self-service and live service.