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3 Contact Center Trends to Watch

If you're looking to hear what's trending in the customer care industry -- and what's top of mind for customer service professionals -- the annual Call Center Week conference and expo provides the perfect opportunity.

This year's gathering, which took place last week in Las Vegas and played host to more than 1,800 attendees and 160+ sponsors and exhibitors, didn't disappoint. Not only did it provide a great venue for taking the pulse of the industry, but also surfaced three contact center topics trending today. Though these interrelated trends are not surprising, they do have far-reaching implications for contact center professionals and the vendors that support them.

1. Focused efforts to improve the agent experience
For the past several years, "customer experience" has been the industry buzz phrase. Delivering a solid customer experience at every touch point is still vital, but industry insiders now also recognize that if you are trying to improve the customer experience, you must work from the foundation of a positive agent experience. No real surprise here -- a happier workforce ultimately translates into a happier customer interaction. And so contact center organizations are now supporting additional efforts and investments to improve agent training, on-the-job tools, job satisfaction, and retention. As vendors, we're seeing more demand for technologies that make the agent experience less frustrating and less complex when it comes to service delivery tools. For instance, several customer care professionals I spoke with at Call Center Week noted the huge productivity gains they saw by eliminating 30 to 60% of the screens agents view or use. Astute technology providers are moving toward a unified portal that will enable agents to access information through a single source, improving resolution rates by eliminating the need to fumble through multiple screens.

2. Meeting customers where (and how) they live, to secure their loyalty and a strong customer lifetime value
Contact centers have always been required to align their service delivery mechanisms based on the customer's terms. Today, in a mobile society with an "information anytime, anywhere" mindset, those terms of engagement have become even more complex. Multichannel support is no longer a luxury, but a requirement. As a result, contact centers are placing increased emphasis on ensuring service is mobile friendly, promoting increased use of social channels for proactive and reactive customer service, and adding more seamless self-service capabilities so customers can resolve problems without human intervention. Giving customers service when, where, and how they want it will become a differentiator, and will ultimately dictate brand loyalty and net profits over the entire future relationship with the customer.

3. Greater demand for customized and integrated solutions
The two contact center trends noted above are factors contributing to the third trend, which is greater demand for customized and integrated solutions. Think about it. In order to improve the agent experience, a contact center provider must have the ability to customize software to meet each organization's unique needs. And the ultimate goal of a single agent portal will indeed require the ability to integrate information from various sources. Contact centers will no longer be willing to settle for a technology that does not fully fit their needs, but rather will look for solutions they can customize and integrate to meet specific needs and help them to differentiate.

For these reasons, the industry is now readily embracing cloud-based technologies and also showing increased interest in the advanced customization capabilities of platform-as-a-service offerings. As contact center decision makers explore offerings, they are beginning to understand the many shades of cloud solutions and why things like scalability, security, and customization are imperatives.

Brandon Knight brings more than 25 years of experience as a business owner and consultant to the Corvisa team, including leading operational roles in launching eight call centers and BPOs. As Corvisa's vice president of contact center optimization, he serves as a strategic resource to help customers take a holistic look at their business operations.