Just as modern technology has transformed communication in our personal lives, current digital innovations are completely restructuring the traditional contact center business model — significantly changing the way consumers and businesses communicate. Technology has shifted and heightened consumer expectations in terms of convenience and variety of communication modes. In fact, it’s predicted that by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, according to a study by Walker Information, Inc.
Interestingly, there are 5 top trends that drove the digital change for contact centers in 2017.
Omni-channel communications have exploded over the last year in response to the expanding expectations of consumers. The term “omni-channel” refers to the consumers’ ability to communicate with an organization, including contact centers, through a variety of different modes or channels. As smartphone and mobile device technology become more advanced, the “on-the-go” lifestyle has become more widespread, and consumer reliance on mobile devices as a means of communication has drastically increased. In fact, a recent report issued by Google found that 98 percent of consumers switch between multiple devices within the same day. This striking percentage reflects a new world where consumers expect a variety of options for communicating with businesses.
In addition to meeting consumer expectations for omni-channel communications, contact centers are becoming primarily cloud-based. Cloud services are so popular that McAfee recently reported that 93 percent of organizations today utilize cloud services in some form. While improved continuity and disaster recovery are large contributing factors for contact centers’ purpose in turning to the cloud, innovations in cloud technology are also enabling contact centers to create new engagement touchpoints for consumers. Not to mention, cloud-based contact centers offer an increased degree of scalability and integration capabilities, which are unmatched by traditional on-premise contact center models.
Along with the ability to conveniently communicate anywhere, anytime, digital transformation has also become popular with consumers who want to help themselves when they need customer service. While dialing a customer service number to help resolve an issue may have been commonplace in the past, it is quickly becoming a rarity. Today’s digitally equipped consumers are demonstrating a desire to log into an app or refer to an FAQ page rather than rely on an audio conversation with a contact center representative in order to resolve a problem. The 2016 Consumer Expectations Report found that 55 percent of consumers prefer self-service over speaking with a company representative. This independent consumer attitude is further shaking up the traditional enterprise contact center model.
4. Social Media
As smartphones and other mobile devices become even more firmly glued to consumers’ fingertips, the use of social media apps continues to skyrocket. Contact centers are starting to expand their communication offerings to include the option of connecting via social media. In today’s digital landscape, social media has evolved into an arena not only for customer service communications to take place, but also for these experiences to be shared with the world at large — for better or for worse. The social media trend is sure to stick around for years to come; an article published by Salesforce reported the prediction that 90 percent of companies will be using social media for customer service by the year 2020.
As digital transformation introduces both new technologies and channels of communication to contact centers across the nation, security becomes paramount to the successful deployment of such platforms. Although the new channels of communication are proving to result in heightened customer satisfaction and convenience, the amassing amount of information in the cloud increases the threat for that data to be compromised. A study by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reports that data breaches have increased by 40 percent from 2015 to 2016, proving the importance of cybersecurity to protect against unauthorized access and attacks. As digital solutions continue to spread, tightening up security measures will be key for contact centers implementing omni-channel cloud-based communication platforms.