Most Important Call Center Technology of 2021

Nicole Davies
June 9, 2021
Read time:
5
Minutes
Customer Experience
Nicole Davies

Call centers are changing. They’re fast becoming a hybrid of different digital channels that offer multichannel customer service.


All these changes mean new technology is needed. So what technology is emerging 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 2021.

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 telephony systems that facilitated both outbound and inbound calls. Over time, these 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 extended far beyond phone systems. As more emphasis is placed on customer experience, new digital channels, such as live chat and video chat, are increasingly in demand.


Software applications, such as CRMs and WFO (Workforce Optimisation Software), now also play a key role in call center operations. 

Emerging trends in call center technology

As customer service becomes increasingly digital, there are two principal trends emerging: 

  • Customers want real-time engagement and support
  • Customers want to connect with brands on multiple channels

To meet these demands, contact centers need to invest in technology that facilitates real-time communication, quick responses, and multichannel support.


Let’s take a look at the six most important trends emerging in call center technology to meet this demand in 2021. 

1) Artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is quite literally reinventing call centers. It’s helping businesses provide fast and personalised customer service, which is drastically redefining the customer experience. 


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 the customer experience. 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 call centre.

  • Conversational AI: Conversational AI, often known as chatbots or virtual agents, provides automated customer service. Using machine learning and natural language processing, these advanced chatbots can interact with customers 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 customers 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 call 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 confusing 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 intelligent routing to the correct department/agent the first time. 

2) Omnichannel software

In 2017, research conducted by Microsoft revealed that 66% of consumers actively use three or more channels for customer service. 


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 to another during a customer service enquiry, 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 achieve this unified customer experience, businesses use omnichannel engagement platforms.


This call center technology offers multiple contact channels all in the same place, allowing 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 engagement platforms give agent’s real-time access to returning customer’s details and past interactions. With this information, they can provide more personal and tailored customer service, again improving the customer experience. 

3) Self-service channels 

Self-service channels are a win for both customers and businesses. Customers are able to find answers quickly on their own, which reduces the demand on agents. 


In fact, 70% of customers actually expect businesses to offer self-serve customer service options, meaning self-service channels are now a necessity for all call centers. 


Customer self-service basically refers to online support that doesn’t involve a direct interaction with a customer service agent. This means there are 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. 

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. It can show you how they’re interacting with your website and when they commonly seek customer support. 


With this knowledge, you can start to offer proactive customer 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 more efficient.


For example, knowing how many live chat requests you typically receive per-day can help managers organise workflows. Moreover, if they know what periods of the day are busiest, they can manage demand on a per-hour basis, reducing queues and wait times


From average resolution times to conversion rates, there are many contact center metrics that data and analytics help you measure and track. The more information you have on these areas, the more you can do to improve outcomes. 

5) Real-time customer journey mapping

Real-time analytics are essential for providing quick and personalised customer service. As a result, real-time customer journey mapping is becoming an increasingly popular technology used in 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 personalised 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, call center technology that can help agents achieve personal interactions could be a game changer for your business. 

6) Video chat

Video customer service is on the rise. 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. 


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. 


It can also be used alongside screen sharing and cobrowsing, allowing for a fully interactive customer service interaction. 

Technology driven call centers

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 will help you provide fast, personalised customer service across multiple channels. It will help your team deliver premium customer support to your customers. 


Book a demo with Talkative today to find the best tools for your contact center and customers.

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