In a short space of time, call centers have seen a lot of change.
They've evolved from relying mainly on phone calls, to utilizing a multitude of different customer contact channels.
As modern technology becomes an increasingly dominant feature in customer support, contact centers are set to undergo even more changes in the next few years.
So it's vital that businesses stay up to date with new advances and are willing to embrace the future of call centers.
In this article, we’ll explore the future of contact centers and provide predictions of the changes to come. We’ll cover:
- Call center hybrid model
- Live chat & video chat
- Going mobile
- The Internet of hings
- Cloud-based call centers & remote working
- Advancements in agent skills & training
1. Hybrid model
Call centers have become a hybrid of digital communication channels.
So it makes sense that the future of call centers will see an increase in hybrid settings - a mix of human agents and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes increasingly sophisticated, it will become cheaper to install, more efficient, and more accurate.
This will bring many advantages to call centers in terms of productivity and cost.
AI can help provide a more convenient and seamless customer experience, which is why more and more businesses are starting to adopt AI powered customer support.
However, human interaction is still demanded and valued by customers.
A study by PWC found that 78% of UK customers want more, not less, human interaction with companies in the future, showing that automated services cannot completely replace the human side of customer service.
This indicates that the future of call centers requires a mix of both AI and human interaction.
The hybrid model will see automation and self-service rise to improve efficiency, with technology like AI-powered virtual assistants dealing with FAQs and simple customer questions.
Meanwhile, human agents are freed up to deal with more complex queries and problem-solving, still providing the personalized customer experience when needed.
2. Live chat
In the last ten years, live chat has become the most popular customer contact channel.
In fact, over 40% of customers will now choose to use live chat over email and social media to contact a brand.
With a satisfaction rate of 73%, live chat also has the highest customer satisfaction rate, with phone calls achieving just 44%.
Additionally, live chat is a great tool to significantly increase lead generation.
Live chat achieves all of this as customers like getting their questions answered immediately (90% of customers rate immediate answers as important).
We don’t see this consumer demand changing anytime soon, which is why live chat will continue to be a dominant feature in the future of call centers.
We will likely see a change in live chat with the rise of chatbots as opposed to human powered live chat, as these can deal with a lot more requests at the same time.
However, due to certain limitations in chatbots, they won’t fully replace live chat.
As discussed earlier, future call centers will use a hybrid model of live chat: chatbots to answer FAQs and simple requests, with the ability to escalate to a human agent when confronted with complex problems.
3. Video chat
Video chat customer service takes live chat one step further.
While including all the benefits of live chat, such as high customer satisfaction and increased conversions, video also adds an even more personalized experience.
Not only can video call agents chat with customers face-to-face, they can also show customers products and services.
This helps to bring the in-store experience online, an aspect we have seen become increasingly popular since Covid-19 forced the closure of many brick-and-mortar stores.
Video chat software is seeing lots of development right now. For example, Talkative’s video chat feature has undergone a thorough refurbishment, introducing support for iPhones, and the ability to screen share and go full screen.
As video chat continues to develop, we expect future call centers to make much greater use of the service.
4. Going mobile
Mobiles are a principal way that customers interact with businesses.
In 2018, 58% of web traffic in the USA came from mobile and tablet devices, compared to 42% from desktops.
This doesn’t mean that mobile is becoming more important than desktop, but it does mean that businesses need to pay just as much attention to their mobile profile.
For future call centers, this means ensuring that contact from mobiles is just as easy as contact from desktops.
In other words, channels like web calls, emails, live chat and video calls all need to be compatible with mobile.
A key aspect of call center mobile functionality will be allowing customers to multitask on their mobile while using a contact channel, just like they can with a desktop.
For example, being able to access different web pages while using live chat.
As well as mobile compatibility, the use of mobile apps for customer service is also on the rise.
Due to high levels of customer engagement, mobile apps are predicted to become a very important contact channel in the future of call centers.
5. The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices that are connected to the internet and can ‘talk’ to each other.
As the head of techUK puts it, “the Internet of Things is made up of devices - from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables - connected together’.
For the future of call centers, this interconnectivity of devices brings the possibility of proactive customer service.
For example, if your TV senses a fault, it can contact customer service without your input. Customer support can then contact you to let you know your TV needs a replacement part, and arrange a time for this to be fitted.
That way, your TV gets fixed before you even realise it was broken
As the IoT grows and more devices get connected, customer service will be taken to the next level.
This means that future call centers will become increasingly proactive, dealing with problems before the customer even knows they've occurred.
6. Cloud-based call centers
Cloud-based call centers aren’t anything new, but over the next few years we can expect to see almost all call centers migrating to the cloud.
Cloud-based software has many installation and maintenance benefits, including instant updates.
It also brings advantages from a management point of view as managers don’t need to be in the same place as agents to monitor their work.
The increased adoption of this software could really change the face of future call centers as it gives agents the opportunity for flexible and remote working.
This could mean saying goodbye to the traditional call center with rows of agents in crowded environments, and hello to smaller, remote-based call centers with remote agents.
More remote agents can bring a reduction in the cost of future call centers, and also increase agent productivity and job satisfaction, which will decrease staff turnover.
A report by Contact Babel found that 52% of US call centers have opted for remote agents, showing that this trend is already on the rise.
7. Super agents
All these changes to the future of call centers will naturally mean a change in the role of agents too.
As AI takes over customer support for the more mundane and simple queries, agents will focus on dealing with complex issues.
As a result, they'll need to have more advanced problem-solving skills and greater knowledge of products/services, which means they will require more advanced and detailed training.
In essence, they'll have to embrace their roles as expert advisors and brand representatives.
With data becoming an increasingly prevalent part of customer service, agents will also need to have good analytical skills in order to make the most of all of the data they can access in the CRM.
These highly trained and skilled agents, sometimes referred to as ‘super agents’, will be able to use a variety of engagement channels - including phone, web calls, live chat, video chat and social media - and will have to stay up to date with any changes to these channels.
It's clear that call center practices and technologies have come a long way in recent years.
The evolution of contact centers is a constant and ongoing process within an ever-changing business landscape.
That's why it’s imperative that call centers stay ahead of the curve and actively search for new ways to grow and improve.
One aspect of this is consistently listening to your customers’ needs and adapting accordingly.
The other part is embracing the best forward-thinking technology to take your contact center performance, operations, and customer service to the next level.
And that's where Talkative comes in.
Our platform was specifically designed to connect contact centers with the right customers, via the right channel, at the right time.
We provide a complete suite of digital engagement channels that'll empower your customer-facing teams to deliver superior service and personalized experiences.
As a result, they’ll be fully equipped to support, engage, and convert more customers than ever before – all within a single platform.
Want to see for yourself? Book a demo with Talkative today.