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Voice Will Remain King in Contact Centers

Darrin Bird, COO and EVP at cloud contact center provider TCN recently shared some of his predictions for 2018.

   1. Voice will remain king: There'll be a push for companies to reach out to customers through various channels (i.e., text and email); however, when given the option, consumers will still prefer a phone call.

Customers will want, and even demand, the more intimate -- i.e., voice -- contact to deal with many issues and processes. How companies scale their customer communications really depends on the degree of service and level of concern.

For example, I can log into Geico's site and make changes to my auto policy, add drivers, print insurance cards, and even get quotes all without the help of an agent. Until the level of concern broadens or the process of communications doesn't support what customers are trying to do, then the method of communications changes. Would I accept a requested quote? No, of course not. I'd always talk to an agent to make sure what I'm buying is appropriate and adequate, and I'd want to utilize voice... not chat, not self-service, and not email. Voice is more intimate. Customers want assurances, and automation, bots, chat, and other forms of communications and interaction may not provide the human touch customers sometimes need.

    2. Automation and business intelligence (BI) will be an immediate focus: There'll be a huge focus on reporting in 2018, with companies looking for faster ways to automate data and calculate return on investment. In addition, contact centers will leverage BI to analyze business productivity and efficiency for improved operations. A prime example of BI and automation will be found in payment processes. Intelligent IVR systems, not agents, will primarily handle for faster, error-free transactions.

Some contact centers devote too much effort to handling many mundane and repetitive tasks, opening the potential for error. Automation of these processes is good as long as it doesn't impede information collection and processing.

   3. CRM systems will tier human interactions through artificial intelligence, and automation: Brand loyalty profiles will dictate which type of service a customer receives. For example, a contact center could direct platinum members to live agents, gold members to an expedited IVR system, and general consumers to a standard dial-in.

I believe Darrin is spot on here. Customer spend will equate to value of services delivered and service-level expectations. Some might question why companies wouldn't want to provide excellent service to all customers, but the reality is that service costs money. Per a time-tested business rule, 20% of customers provide 80% of revenue, and that latter group simply don't warrant the same degree of service as those in the top tier. This doesn't mean these customers won't receive service; but they won't receive the same degree of responsiveness as those clients in the 20% group.

   4. Cloud transitions will increase: Contact centers will move from on-premises to cloud operations with increasing frequency. Cloud-based solutions are becoming more favorable to contact centers because of the flexibility and customization they enable, as well as the lower operational overhead, compared to on-premises counterparts. With the shift toward the cloud, contact centers will look to develop individualized, internal, virtual call center portals for each customer.

Enterprises will continue migrating applications to the cloud, and providers will still carve of niche products and services for these companies. Customization will increase, and providers able to provide higher levels of customization will have stickier customer bases.

Process automation can backfire when the processes themselves are overly complex and don't accommodate variations. Not everyone's concern or need fits neatly into an automated process, and when it doesn't, a customer needs the option of opting out to an agent for a smooth path to satisfaction. Enterprises that fail to recognize this risk alienating customers, bad will, and unnecessary negative exposure. Eliminating redundancy and making the process smooth for customers will win more accolades than trying to get customers into self-service engagements that are overly complex and leave too much room for error and unhappy customers.

As Darrin said, "voice is king" -- and that means personalized service is still valued and something enterprise can capitalize on.

Learn more about Contact Center & Customer Experience at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Advance Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.

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