Call Center Technology Trends for 2020
It’s that time of year! Everyone is putting out their “Trends for 2020” lists and we decided to join in on the fun. For the ten trends, we see coming for 2020, most of them are technology-driven, but some are more along the lines of processing or call center operations. We really intend to focus on technology that will be generally available. Most of these trends are new. Some of them may have been around before but watch out for them to take off in 2020.
1) Agent Assist AI— Agent Assist AI is going to be huge. Being able to have AI technology listening to a call to help guide the agent will help the customer experience immensely. Depending on what the AI hears, it may prompt the agent with certain disclosures or talking points. While Agent Assist won’t take over the call, it will make agents more efficient. It will be like having a supervisor or QA team member with the agent at all times, silently running in the background, and prompting them in real-time.
2) AI Chatbots–With Google’s AI platform, there are going to be a lot of high-end chatbots coming. People have played with this in the past, but it’s getting serious now. The old Interactive Voice Response (IVR) will start to fade away this year. AI Chatbots are going to start taking over for texting response. We are going to see IVR become less prompted and more conversational. It will feel much more like talking to a person, instead of “Say ‘Account’ to hear information.” It’s not going to be perfect but will be a huge step forward.
3) Sentiment Scoring— When we get sentiment scoring from an analytic standpoint, it is going to take over for Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Think of how Amazon has begun to take over from brick and mortar storefronts– sentiment scores are going to do the same with NPS. It is a great tool that allows us to listen to both sides of the conversation. This tool listens to customer sentiment, understanding tone, and keywords while getting a full score of the customer experience instead of just a randomly monitored call.
4) Cloud-based Call Centers–This tech has been around for a few years, but there are still centers that haven’t made the migration to the cloud. Many centers who are still premise-based are missing out on really cool technology. There are other providers out there, but we use and love NICE InContact. Cloud-based centers have many ancillary tools that just work as a kind of plugin. You don’t have to source more software, other people take care of that for you. Premise-based centers are at the mercy of servers and drives that can go down, a problem cloud-based centers don’t have. It’s time for them to make that leap.
5) Digital Marketing Channels–Companies really need to have a strong understanding of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. Customers are moving away from picking up the phone to communicate. They are hopping on social media to vent frustrations or ask questions. These channels are ones that need your attention daily. You don’t need to have agents who only stare at social media all day, but you have to learn how to integrate it into your telephony platform. If you don’t know how to make that work for your company, you may need to outsource to someone who does. Ignoring digital marketing channels will cause your company to fall behind.
6) Video Customer Service— FaceTime video chatting was just the beginning. Video customer service is coming. Requests are coming in from clients who want to offer video customer service. One-way video chatting (they see our agent, but the agent does not see them)or an app could be used to offer this. Customers could go to your client’s website for help and click to open a simple chat or have the option to open a video platform with an agent for more complex issues. While is still pretty rare, companies are moving towards video customer service.
7) Real-time Analytics–NICE InContact is coming out with a release this year that will be able to route the call to the correct agent from the beginning. This technology will send the calls of hot customers straight to those who have proven to be effective with that type of caller. The QA team will also be able to visually monitor calls in real-time. Their display will show when the caller’s sentiment is increasing or decreasing, allowing the supervisor to pop into the call to find out why. Instead of randomly picking calls or reps to monitor, the software tracks the sentiment of every call, which allows for follow up with reps as needed.
8) Eliminate the Inept— Good usage of technology has limited customer tolerance for inept training or technology. If your tech is inept and you really don’t want to invest in these newer technologies, your company is going to fall behind. What will set you back, even more, is having inept agents who are not trained. If your agents cannot answer tier two or three questions, your customers are going to get frustrated which affects your bottom line. Call center organizations have similar price points, but having well-trained, tech-savvy agents will increase your customer experience and differentiate your company from others.
9) On-shore Customer Support– One new trend, from a tech standpoint, is on-shoring back into the United States. In the past, it was cost-prohibitive to have all support based here, so all but tier three support was often off-shored. Now, many companies are using chatbots and AI to handle their tier-one issues, making it more affordable to on-shore their additional customer support. Technology is doing its job and taking away a lot of the simple support issues, leaving more in the budget to be able to hire high-end, highly trained agents to staff your on-shore center. Successful on-shore call centers have a layer of self-service support and tech on the front end to assist with easier issues.
10) Use a 24/7 Business Model– The days are coming to a close of customers receiving a message stating “Our hours of operations are from 8 AM-8 PM.” For the best customer experience, companies will need to create a 24/7 business model. Your entire center won’t have to be staffed 24/7. Secondary to the IVR and chatbots that answer very basic questions, you may just need a handful of highly-trained agents to work the over-night hours. At Expivia, probably 75% of the requests we receive want some type of 24/7 service available. As a society, we do not like to wait for anything, customers are no different. They want support when they want it for all kinds of questions, even at two in the morning. Companies that have 24/7 support available are going to flourish.
Technology is truly driving the trends that are coming for call centers in 2020. Adopting them should help get you ahead of the curve. These are real trends that we are working with here at Expivia. We have also talked to our telephony providers and clients about using them. These trends are a bridge between the call centers of yesterday and the software companies of today. Your company must have the technology to meet the customers where they are going–or, chance getting left behind.