In the last few decades, customers have come to expect more and more from how businesses communicate with them.
In a crowded marketplace customer choice increasingly revolves around service quality, as customers look for faster and easier ways of resolving their queries across a wide range of platforms. Salesforce even found that 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as important as its products or services.
Unsurprisingly then, contact center technology has come on in leaps and bounds in a race to keep up.
We’re going to explore 15 of the biggest trends in contact center technology, breaking down the jargon and laying out the advanced functions that can improve your customer service offer and drive up loyalty.
What is Contact Center technology?
Contact center technology is any form of hardware or software that can be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your customer service. In recent years this technology has progressed rapidly, and with customers looking to get in touch in an increasingly diverse number of ways, omnichannel contact center technology has stepped in.
These systems are also often cloud-based, allowing contact center agents to communicate with customers remotely from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, across email, instant messaging, social media, live chat, and of course over the phone. All these enhancements have the sole aim of improving the customer experience, building loyalty, and increasing customer lifetime value (CLV).
How has Contact Center technology changed over the years?
Contact center technology originated in the late 1950s, before becoming mainstream in the 1970s. It initially relied on hard-wired Private Branch Exchange (PBX) networks, which allowed connected calls to be switched between lines and service agents. To begin with, these required switchboard operators to physically connect those lines and install the hardware on-site.
Fast forward to today, and call center technology has migrated to the internet, with cloud-based systems allowing far greater flexibility and adaptability, without the need for such substantial hardware installs. These systems allow call centers to be set up much more quickly, and to be operated remotely by a dispersed workforce. They also offer greater reliability and the ability to interact directly with computer software, CRM software, and omnichannel communications thanks to Computer Telephony Integration (CTI). More and more technological leaps continue to make these contact center solutions more sophisticated.
Top 10 Contact Center technology trends to watch out for:
Things are still moving fast. Here are some of the top contact center technology trends to keep an eye out for:
1. Interactive Voice Response Systems
Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) is an automated internet phone system where callers communicate with prerecorded voice menus and instructions. IVR collects caller input in dial-pad presses and routes the call to submenus or calls center agents if the caller has a query to be solved.
IVR helps you prioritize and route calls to the best-equipped agent to increase the chance of resolving the caller’s query. It also allows you to handle high call rates and handles call queuing. You can also pre-program personalized greetings and prompts that help callers resolve their own issues before they even reach a human agent.
2. Knowledge Management Systems
A knowledge management system helps businesses significantly reduce the demand on their customer service team. Rather than relying on agents to address every query, these systems store and present information that helps answer customer questions at the point at which they occur.
These might take the form of FAQ pages, webinars, tutorials, forums, or even full-blown training programs. Not only do these help reduce your call volume, customer service costs, but they can also increase conversions for new customers.
3. Toll-Free Telephone Services
A toll-free number is one that customers can call without being charged for it. The business pays for the cost of all inbound and outbound calls. A toll-free number usually has prefixes such as 800, 855, 877, 888, etc. Thanks to the three-digit codes within the number (such as 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833), toll-free numbers are handy for customer service teams. Customers can call businesses in a different area for free.
Providing an easy – and free – way for customers to get in touch with your call center agents is one of the most important things you can do to improve their experience, and toll-free services help you do just that.
4. Analytics and Reporting
Modern contact center software technology offers far more analytics and reporting data, allowing managers to track productivity performance metrics and analyze the health of the entire call/contact center. Doing so makes it easier to spot call trends and volume trends, thereby helping you ideate and launch remedial measures to keep your customer experience remarkable.
You can also improve the quality of conversations that directly impact your sales deals and call resolutions by integrating conversational analytics in your dashboard. Understanding the number of call transfers, wait time and average talk time, kpis, etc., will let you identify the areas of improvement in your call/contact center and improve your customer journey.
5. Omnichannel Solutions
Customers are looking to an increasingly diverse number of ways to contact businesses with complaints or queries. Omnichannel support allows your agents to operate across communication channels like social media, emails, and live chat alongside answering phone calls. By integrating all of these into one system, agents can efficiently work through their tickets, switch between channels, analyze workflows, and keep better tabs on customer issues.
Keeping track of your customer communications across channels is also essential for ensuring your records are kept up to date with the progress of any queries, wherever the conversation occurred. Omnichannel support lets admins streamline team management and consolidate reporting across all support channels from one unified platform.
6. Migration to the cloud phone system
A cloud phone system lets you make, take, or manage calls over an internet connection instead of a traditional analog (PSTN) connection. They require zero telephony hardware and run on cloud-based servers hosted online. A cloud phone system uses a CTI (Cloud Telephony Integration), a web application, or a mobile application to enable telecommunication.
Pandemic has accelerated the adoption rate for cloud phone systems, and companies are increasingly moving their customer service systems from local networks to cloud hosting. According to Frost & Sullivan, 38% of businesses say that they’re planning to move to cloud communication technology, and another 33% have already switched. This means all inbound calls, outbound calls, customer data, and other functionalities will be moved to the cloud.
The most significant benefit of the cloud is the flexibility made possible by remote access, as well as the adaptability of being able to connect to your system with an internet-connected device. Cloud services are often more reliable, too, with redundancy built-in at the server end. Plus, there’s no longer any need for extensive infrastructure installation or localized hardware requiring upkeep.
7. Data, privacy, and security
The security of private customer data remains a hot topic for businesses worldwide. With contact centers moving online, companies have also developed advanced security technologies to keep their customers’ data safe.
The best providers use encryption throughout their VoIP tools, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), and also make use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to hide their connections. Proactive security is also key, through appropriate password hygiene, training, and network testing.
8. Real-time transcription
[image suggestion: phone call input leading to text output]
Keeping clear communication records can be important for increasing customers’ access and enhancing the service you can provide, especially when dealing with longer-running queries. Real-time transcription uses computer technology and automation to record voicemail messages or conversations in text form, for record-keeping purposes or to be referred to at a later date.
Softphone services like Freshdesk Contact Center can then automatically forward these transcripts to your email address, for example allowing for the quick and easy review of a voicemail on a mobile device.
9. Chatbots for self-support
Chatbots are an exciting channel for your conversational marketing strategy. They let you start a dialogue with potential customers. According to Forrester, a chat with a live customer support agent can cost $6-12 per interaction, but automated customer interactions can cost as little as 25 cents each.
Instead of following a fixed lead funnel filled with marketing materials, they respond to customer questions and problems individually. This will support your brand messaging and help customers to answer their pre-purchase concerns, thus improving your customer relationship management.
10. Customer satisfaction scores
Asking customers to provide feedback on their customer service experiences is one of the most sure-fire ways of improving your business, and modern contact center technology makes collecting that feedback effortlessly.
One of the most popular methods of measuring customer satisfaction is through surveys.
You can create surveys according to your business, and these can appear in many forms:
- A text message
- A pop-up after a live chat conversation
- A callback after a voice conversation
- An email
A customer satisfaction measurement tool will help you collect real-time insights through online and offline surveys and deliver excellent experiences.
Technology: at the heart of the contact center
Without technology, the modern call center or cloud contact center wouldn’t be nearly as effective or widespread as it is today. Advancements have allowed businesses to maximize the output of their agents, expand their reach, and – most importantly – deliver a higher quality of customer service on an unprecedented scale.
Keeping track of the latest trends is important to stay ahead of the game, as well as making sure you use a call center software that offers the advanced functionality to accelerate your business growth.
About Freshdesk Contact Center
Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller) is a modern-day cloud phone system that enables businesses to conduct telephony operations with maximum security. It can help your customer support and sales teams carry out phone conversations effortlessly and without the fear of VoIP security threats. With its cloud-based architecture, Freshdesk Contact Center brings together the best of legacy features like IVR, call waiting, VoIP solutions, and advanced call routing capabilities like Smart Escalations, Customizable Performance Reporting to help you set up state-of-the-art call center operations. The VoIP phone system offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.
Visit our website for more information.