Call centers are changing.
They’re fast becoming a hybrid of different digital communication channels that offer multichannel customer service.
All these changes mean that new technology is essential. But what technology is available to support and enhance the future call center?
Let’s take an in-depth look at the most important and exciting call center technology being used in 2022. We'll cover:
- What is call center technology
- Emerging trends in call center technology
- The next step to getting the most out of new technology
What is call center technology?
Call center technology refers to the software and hardware used in contact centers for customer service and support.
For a long time, the main tool used in call centers was traditional phone lines that facilitated both inbound and outbound phone calls.
Over time, these phone system tools became more advanced and technical, extending to the likes of VoIP (which facilitates web calling) and IVR (which facilitates call routing).
Today, call center technology has evolved far beyond the use of a phone system.
As more emphasis is placed on customer experience, new digital channels, such as live chat and video chat, are increasingly in demand.
Call center software applications, such as CRMs and WFO (Workforce Optimisation Software), now also play a key role in contact center operations.
Emerging trends in call center technology
As customer service becomes increasingly digital, there are two contact center technology trends emerging:
- Customers want real-time engagement and support
- Customers want to connect with brands on multiple channels
Clearly, a single-channel telephone network is no longer enough to cater to consumer demand.
To meet these demands, businesses need to invest in call center software that facilitates real-time communication, quick responses, and multichannel support
By doing this, you can improve overall contact center performance and boost customer satisfaction.
Let’s take a look at the six most important trends emerging in call center technology in 2022.
1) Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is quite literally reinventing call centers.
It’s helping businesses and their contact centers drastically redefine the customer experience (CX) though fast and personalized service.
In fact, improving CX is now the main reason organisations are investing in AI.
According to a 2020 poll, 53% of organisations are implementing AI to improve customer service. This compares to 48% who are doing so to reduce business costs, and 39% to increase revenue.
To keep up with competitors and improve your customer experience, AI is definitely call centre technology that’s worth the investment.
Let’s take a quick look at the different ways AI can be used in your contact center:
- Conversational AI: Conversational AI, often known as chatbots or virtual agents, provides automated customer service via your website and app. With Talkative, you can even connect your chatbot to social media too. Using machine learning and natural language processing, these advanced chatbots can engage in customer interactions to handle customer service queries. Despite their advancement in recent years, they’re still best used alongside human agents rather than instead of human agents. They’re great for dealing with FAQs and routing customer conversations to the right department for answers, but they should always have the ability to hand off to a human agent when needed to reduce customer frustration.
- Sentiment analysis: This technology assesses the sentiment of customers’ messages. A key use case for this is flagging negative rated conversations to contact center managers, allowing them to step in and assist an agent to improve the customer experience before it goes south. It’s also good for assessing customer satisfaction during the customer journey and highlighting areas for improvement. For example, if you receive a lot of ‘negative’ messages from a certain webpage, it might be a sign that the page is confusig and not adequately aiding customers.
- Call routing: Call routing isn't new call center technology, but AI is making it more accurate. By better understanding customer intent, sentiment, and the query itself, AI ensures that customer calls are immediately routed to the correct contact center agents.
2) Omnichannel software
In 2017, research conducted by Microsoft revealed that 66% of consumers actively use three or more channels for customer service processes.
This means two things for businesses. Firstly, to meet customer expectations companies need to offer multiple contact channels.
Secondly, as customers jump from one channel or customer service team to another, businesses need to ensure that the channels are connected to provide one unified experience.
This is known as providing an omnichannel customer experience. It means customers can seamlessly switch contact channels without needing to repeat their problem.
For example, they could send a message on Facebook, which turns into a real-time live chat, which escalates to a video chat, all within the same interaction.
To improve customer service with this unified customer experience, businesses use omnichannel engagement platforms.
This call center technology offers multiple contact channels all in the same place, allowing call center agents to quickly and easily change interactions from one channel to another to suit the customer’s needs.
By also connecting to a company’s CRM, omnichannel call center software gives agents real-time access to returning customer’s details and past interactions.
With this information, they can provide more personal and tailored customer service.
This enhances the customer experience and improves customer relationship management.
3) Self-service channels
Self-service channels are a win for both customers and businesses.
In fact, 70% of customers actually want and expect businesses to offer self-serve customer service options. This means self-service channels are now a necessity for all modern call centers.
Customer self-service basically refers to online support that doesn’t involve a direct interaction with a customer service agent.
This reduces call volume by providing a wide range of self-service options to choose from.
An FAQ page on your website, for example, is a quick and easy self-service tool to set up.
On the other hand, online portals and AI chatbots are examples of more complicated but more far-reaching self-service technology.
With self-service options, customers are able to find answers quickly on their own, which reduces the demand on call center agents.
4) Analytics and reporting
Data is everything, which is why advanced analytics and reporting are a key call center technology.
From website analytics to interaction reports, there are many ways data can improve customer experience and call center performance.
First, connecting call center systems to website analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) is the best way to get a complete view of your customers’ journey.
Such customer data can show you how they’re interacting with your website and when they commonly seek customer support.
With this knowledge, your customer service reps can start to offer proactive service - you address the problem before it even becomes a problem - creating a seamless customer experience that outperforms competitors.
Second, interaction based analytics make it easy to manage demand and assess performance, making your call center team more efficient.
For example, knowing how many live chat requests you typically receive per-day can help managers organize workflows.
Moreover, if agents know what periods of the day are busiest, they can manage demand on a per-hour basis, reducing queues and wait times.
From average response times to conversion rates, there are many contact center metrics that customer data and analytics help you measure and track.
The more information you have on these areas, the more you can do to improve outcomes and provide premium customer support.
5) Real-time customer journey mapping
Real-time analytics are a modern call center technology that's essential for providing quick and personalized customer service.
As a result, real-time customer journey mapping is becoming an increasingly popular technology used in many call centers.
It allows agents to see the customer’s journey through your website as they’re speaking with them.
By viewing the web pages the customer has visited, as well as session data such as ‘time on page’ and ‘clicks’, the agent can gain a better understanding of the customer’s intent and query, enabling them to resolve issues faster.
This technology is even more useful if the customer is logged into their account. When logged in, personal data - such as the customer’s name - gets passed to the agent in real-time, which helps them provide a more personalized service.
‘Even something as simple as calling a customer by their first name can go a long way in establishing a personal connection with someone, building a rapport and improving loyalty.’
- Kraig Martin, Commercial Director at Storage Vault
With repeat customers being more valuable than new customers, advanced call center technology that helps agents achieve personal interactions could be a game changer for your business.
6) Video chat
Video customer service is on the rise and is becoming one of the key call center technologies.
Between December 2019 and 2020, the use of video chat for customer support increased by 400% - and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
As remote sales and digital shopping continue to dominate consumer behaviour, video chat is the perfect way to provide face-to-face customer service online. It provides the visual engagement that phone calls lack.
What’s more, video chat software is highly flexible call center technology that can be adapted to suit any individual customer’s needs.
For example, it can be used both two-way (customer and agent see each other) and one-way (customer only sees agent), and it’s compatible with all devices, meaning customers can even use it on mobile.
Video chat can also be used alongside screen sharing and cobrowsing, allowing for a fully interactive customer interaction.
Today, technology is at the heart of contact centers. It’s driving innovation and redefining the customer experience.
Investing in the right call center technology trends will help you provide fast, personalized customer service across multiple channels.
It will also empower your customer service and sales teams to deliver premium support to your customers.
But first, you need to implement the right platform.
And that's where Talkative comes in.
Book a demo with us today to discover how our forward-thinking technology can optimize contact center performance and provide next-level digital experiences.