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Call Center Trends – The Future of Contact Centers

by | May 28, 2020 | Contact Center Technology

Contact centers are often the first and only point of contact with your customers. With the rapid evolution of technology, contact centers will experience the difference that AI and other digital tools make on their efficiency.

With efficient tools like cloud technology and virtual agents, customers get the answers they want quickly and without hassle. From decreasing waiting times to making suggestions during awkward silences, technology is transforming contact centers into useful hubs to gather valuable information about customer habits and emotions.

Integrating AI technology into the call center leads to better productivity and high levels of customer satisfaction. It not only makes customers happy but also helps management make accurate decisions regarding internal processes.

1. Adoption of Cloud Communications

Companies once relied on bulky servers to store their information onsite. Onsite storage is no longer feasible, mainly due to the vast amount of data that a contact center generates daily. To counter this, call centers are migrating their data to the cloud. Especially with COVID-19, increase in the need for remote contact center agents has made cloud communications a necessity for businesses

Cloud services store information in one secure place. Security updates happen on the spot, and your agents can still work while updates take place. Another benefit to cloud services is their ability to cut costs. Onsite servers take up space and cost more to maintain. With cloud services, these extra expenses are no longer an issue.

2. Predictive Analytics Using AI

Natural language processing allows artificial intelligence (AI) to recognize daily, natural speech and mimic it through deep learning. Although not perfect, this technology can identify the caller’s emotion based on speech patterns and words. The abilities of this technology are astounding, understanding grammatical rules, and differentiating between spoken slang and formal writing.

Once AI technology becomes proficient in processing and mimicking humans’ natural speech, their use will increase even further. Most chatbots today use AI technology, but customers can still tell that they are not speaking to a real individual.

3. Virtual Agents

Virtual agents are not the standard answering services of the past. Using AI, they take the place of agents in some cases and perform functions for them. As an example, AI collects payments over the phone without a customer needing to speak to someone. 

If the customer still needs to speak to a person, AI transfers the call based on category, directing the caller to the right person. Virtual agents free up representatives’ time for more complex questions. They also provide information and updates. Alibaba is one of the companies at the forefront of these innovations with its virtual agent servicing millions of customer requests a day with AI much more powerful than Google’s Duplex.

4. Intelligent Routing for Blended Agents

Although many call centers today provide one type of service, increasing competition means being flexible enough to make and receive calls – which requires cross trained agents. Automated AI based chatbots, intelligent routing and answering systems can help increase blended agent pool efficiencies. Technological advances in robotic process automation (RPA), AI, and machine learning (ML) enables contact centers to now route calls to the best resource available to handle a specific case. These AI based systems can be trained to look for skills, speed of answer, average calls handled, average handling time, context, previous history and other parameters to increase agent efficiency.

5. Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology allows businesses to trace every part of a transaction. The “block” contains the information while the “chain” links the information together. It is most useful where there is a need for end to end visibility of data. Tracing a purchase may be easier with Blockchain’s logging and encryption features while still maintaining anonymity.

The information stored in blockchain is a digital seal that companies use to compare data. Their use isn’t only for financial transactions but also digital file storage. Blockchain technology can prove to be safe and reliable information storage for customer records and contact center interaction information.

How Does This Impact Agents?

As technology improves, some people worry that contact centers will soon stop hiring real people. Replacement is a concern for people who depend on these centers for livelihood, especially those employed in multinational companies in developing economies.

This technology doesn’t substitute for human agents when questions become complex. Instead, technology enhances the overall processes of the company and allows people to receive credit. It makes an agent’s job easier, reduces the average handling time and increases productivity.

The information that technology provides allows managers to make business decisions and identify reliable agents. It also assesses their levels of productivity and the satisfaction of callers from their tone of voice. Technology increases accuracy and gathers information in one place, within easy access of the agent.

Technology is changing the future of contact centers for the better. Contact centers cannot rely entirely on technology to take over their operations. Instead, technology allows agents to reap their benefits by enhancing their conversations and the outcome of their calls.

Jessica Johnson
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