2011's Emerging Call Center Trends
The call center industry has experienced a raft of changes in recent years as it looks to deal with rising customer expectations, dwindling resources and the integration of new technology.
According to Sabio, 2010 was characterized by managing and optimising workforces, breaking down the barriers between the front and back office and adapting to offer a multichannel solution, particularly via the Internet and social media.
As the industry moves into 2011, the trend is to fine tune and expand these offerings to ensure strong customer retention by offering a quality experience.
A huge increase in smartphone sales and applications means that contact centers who wish to offer the best service must realize the importance of this platform.
Avesh Singh, MD at Virtual Contact Center - a division of the Digital Solutions Group (DSG), is an expert on the South African call center industry, explained, "Today, for call centres to remain competitive, they need to embrace new technology platforms and examines ways in which to connect with customers via their preferred medium," and increasingly this medium is mobile devices.
Singh said there is a growing willingness for consumers to conduct their business via their mobile device, though highlighted that the technology will never fully replace the traditional PC.
He said there is a "strong business rational," which extends beyond improved customer service, for deploying mobile solutions. He claims companies that have outsourced their mobile applications to DSG have seen a higher internal margin of 25 percent or more.
Sabio also named developing mobile applications for the Android and iPhone platforms as a key focus for 2011, saying such applications create customer "stickiness" and when integrated seamlessly with the contact center will "prove an essential element of your broader customer contact strategy."
Many contact centers have now adjusted their operations to provide a multichannel approach and 2011 will see an extension of this as companies work to integrate the information from different platforms to provide a rounded customer picture.
Sabio predicted a "consistent response across all customer touch points and channels" will be a key priority for 2011, and recently signed deals and innovations backs this assertion.
Tesco Bank recently implemented a system designed by Attachmate, which will mean customers are less likely to be passed between agents, by allowing for the integration of information from a number of separate systems.
Financial services company Brookson also recently signed a deal with Rostrvm Solutions for a software package which allows for greater integration.
Andy Sloan, head of new business at Brookson, said: "The whole experience has improved because our agents can immediately access customer details, to speak knowledgeably about their particular case.
"...Brookson can combine live chat on the web with the contact center so we are able to interact with a prospective customer who is browsing on the Internet and transfer that onto a Rostrvm record and phone them back straight away."
This need for immediate access to detailed customer information from a variety of platforms has been further demonstrated through the release of eGain's multisearch software platform.
The system allows for searches through multichannel content, providing consistency across platforms and allowing for "improving contact centre productivity and best-practice compliance." It can also be set for multi-role access, which will ensure those within highly regulated industries are only granted access to the applicable information.
Johan Jacobs, research director at Gartner commented that, "Multiple search methods to find answers in an array of content sources such as corporate knowledge, agent knowledge, social knowledge, hosted community knowledge, partner knowledge and online public knowledge ? will improve the relevance of search responses dramatically."
Want to read more about upcoming trends in the industry? Check out Brian Jameson's Top 5 Customer Service Predictions for 2011.