As a contact center manager, you’re faced with challenges we couldn’t have imagined, decades ago. In the past, dealing with the nuances of the phone system and agent training were the biggest hurdles. Today, those challenges span multiple channels and include demanding metrics and increased competition.
Adapting to changes in the call center industry has become an annual requirement; this is especially true for organizations that stay in tune with the latest trends. Here are the top 10 trends that contact center leaders must understand and address this year.
1. Why Gamification Matters
Keeping employees motivated is a challenge in every industry. In fact, 70% of business transformation efforts fail due to lack of employee engagement. In the call center, however, it can be even more difficult due to the repetitive nature of the job (answering an endless stream of phone calls) and the metrics-based approach used in performance tracking. This is where gamification comes into play.
Gamification guides and reinforces high-value activity by capturing employee performance data and, in turn, using that data to motivate them with rewards and points. According to Gartner, by the end of 2015, more than 40% of the top companies will be using gamification to transform their business operations.
In this video experts discuss if gamification will truly grow in the next year.
2. Customer Service Goes Mobile
Mobile devices are rapidly becoming the preferred choice for consumers when communicating with companies. As business executives look for better ways to engage with customers and partners, more than half of these decision makers will focus on mobile. However, in 2015 the gap between leaders and laggards will also grow.
This year mobile apps will be a $55.7 billion market (Chart A). Here are some other interesting stats to keep in mind:
- Business spending on mobile projects will grow 100% by 2015.
- One billion consumers will have smartphones by 2016.
- US consumers alone will own 257 million smartphones and 126 million tablets by 2016
3. Video Support
Another trend that will impact call centers this year will be video chat. Many companies have already incorporated some form of video support (e.g. “how-to” videos, answering common support questions). However, the new shift in video will be toward live support. Chat solutions have become so popular that consumers want the same experience, but with video instead of text.
Amazon has lead the way with its Mayday video support service available on Kindle products. It’s a single-click support solution that lets users work with a remote support representative to help solve problems with their tablets. The service allows you to see the remote tech support person in a small window on your screen, while also showing your screen to the support technician.
According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, it’s “very similar to having someone standing next to you” and offering tech support. A perfect example of personalizing the digital experience!
4. SMS in the Call Center
Texting via SMS is turning out to be more important than once thought. Consumers are very accustomed to this mode of conversation, and we’re finally starting to see it trickle down to customer service. Customers expect an immediate response to texting. In fact, 44% of consumers with texting capabilities would prefer to press a button to initiate a text conversation immediately, rather than waiting on hold to speak with an agent.
Traditionally, businesses use texting to send a widespread marketing message or alert / reminder, however customers want more than that. According to Harris Interactive, consumers want the ability to start a conversation via SMS for answers commonly found on self-service channels. Customers are clearly looking for more convenience when it comes to SMS.
Overall, 64% of consumers would prefer to use texting over voice as a customer service channel. Ensure that you are considering these capabilities to stay ahead of the competition, as customers will expect texting to be a part of the conversational dialogue.
5. Virtual Queuing
81% of all consumers agree that it’s frustrating to be tied to a phone, waiting for customer service help. This is where virtual queuing (call-back technology) comes into play. The basic concept has been around for decades, but only in the last few years have we learned how beneficial it can be for both the call center and the caller.
There are two reasons for the renewed interest in call-backs. First, call-backs are within reach for most companies either as part of a “pure cloud” solution (e.g. Five9, InContact, LiveOps) or as a dedicated cloud-based call-back service like Fonolo. Second, call-backs are an elegant solution for moving a customer conversation between channels, which is a central and growing issue in the contact center industry.
There are five major reasons why call centers will deploy call-back technology this year:
- Improving First Call Resolution (FCR)
- Reducing Abandonment Rate (read the success story)
- Escalating from a digital channel to voice
- Improving Average Handle Time (AHT)
- Smoothing out volume spikes (watch the video)
Call-back technology is finally getting the mainstream acceptance it deserves. This gives customers their time back by eliminating the need to wait on hold, which is one of the biggest complaints in the call center space.