Key Take Aways
- Voice-driven call centers are unequipped to keep up with changing customer demands and customer journey management
- As the need for chat and email capabilities grow, contact centers must be willing to adapt and change or risk losing customers to organizations who can better support their needs
- These six key trends in the evolution of the omnichannel contact center are helping businesses maintain customer satisfaction and retain loyalty
Not too long ago, adding video capabilities to call centers was the height of contact center evolution. Over the past few years, however, we’ve seen everything from chat to social media integrations to artificial intelligence growing throughout the industry. While some of these developments were driven by technology, growing customer demands have largely been key to the growth of the omnichannel contact center.
Customer self-service capabilities are chief among these new demands. The conveniences of modern technology have led to an increased desire for solutions that don’t require voice interaction. People want answers quickly and they want them on their terms. Voice is no longer enough. Instead, contact centers must now use multichannel and omnichannel solutions to connect with customers where they’re at.
Contact center evolution can also be seen in customer journey management. New tools have paved the way for new engagement strategies, redefining the customer experience. As the customer service industry continues working to keep up with rapidly changing consumer needs, here are six key trends in the evolution of the omnichannel contact center that all businesses should know.
1. Adding email and chat to call center capabilities
In 2018, 54% of customers connected with businesses through email, using it more than any other customer service channel. Hubspot research found that 62% of customers want to use email to connect with businesses and 42% want to use live chat. Their research also discovered that 90% of customers think an immediate response (defined by 60% of customers as within 10 minutes) is important or very important. As consumers demand quick answers, self-service options, and channels that can be used on-the-go, email and chat have emerged as the leading solutions. To keep consumers happy, businesses now need to offer an omnichannel customer experience that meets them on their preferred channel. By adding omnichannel customer service options such as email and chat, call centers can keep satisfaction high and business thriving.
2. Using solutions that enable agent and customer success
The changes brought by the omnichannel contact center are offering more consumer options, but they’re also empowering agents to succeed in every interaction. Rather than transferring customers when they’re connected to the wrong department, for example, agents can now view the customer’s full history and use it to quickly reach a resolution.
Omnichannel contact center solutions also give agents the tools they need when an interaction shifts mid-conversation and help improve customer service teamwork. If, for example, a chat conversation needs to move to a call for sensitive information or quicker communication, agents can seamlessly shift the customer to the phone. Many solutions also alert contact center managers when interactions are becoming negative. They can then coach agents through the conversation or get directly involved, de-escalating interactions before losing customer loyalty. Most important, all of these interactions are recorded in the customer’s history, further empowering agents who interact with them in the future.
3. Enabling proper workforce management
Call center agents have more tools at their fingertips, but they are also required to create faster, better solutions for more customers than ever before. As a call center grows into an omnichannel contact center, proper workforce management is just as important as the tools used. Contact centers can use workforce management to help reduce churn by offering agents their preferred schedules and improving employee satisfaction. Agent performance directly affects customer satisfaction, so businesses should track the outcomes, quality, and feedback for each call. This allows them to identify and resolve any issues before they affect interactions. Effective workforce optimization also enables total awareness of overall consumer happiness. Through omnichannel analytics, contact center managers can search interactions for keywords, compliments, complaints, and sentiments, creating a solid understanding of the contact center’s success.
4. Discovering quality analytics
Today, the ultimate customer experience is both satisfactory and personal. Consumers want to feel a personal connection with businesses and they want to feel that their business matters. In fact, McKinsey reported that how a customer feels they’re being treated forms the basis for 70% of the customer journey. With high-quality analytics, contact centers can understand the choices consumers are making and use this data to offer deeply personalized experiences. When they know why customers select specific channels, contact center managers can then improve interactions with those tools. If a large number of people are calling about a specific problem, they can equip agents to offer fast resolutions and create a plan for fully fixing the problem. The more businesses know about their contact centers and customers, the better their customer experience will be.
If a customer has a single unresolved negative experience with a company, it takes 12 positive experiences to restore their satisfaction. – “Understanding Customers”
5. Unifying the customer experience
Everyone has experienced the frustrations of being passed from person to person during a customer service call. With an omnichannel solution, customers are automatically directed to the agent most equipped to resolve their problems, eliminating transfers and optimizing resolution speed. With an omnichannel contact center solution, every interaction is added to an in-depth customer history that can be accessed in a moment. This information gives agents full context for every conversation, helping them create a satisfactory, personalized experience. Whether customers are connecting for the first time or after years of use of a certain product or service, they’ll always receive the ultimate experience.
6. Revolutionizing customer journey management
When transitioning from a call center to a contact center, it’s important to choose a solution that offers management of the entire customer journey. No matter where the customer is, agents should be able to define and see their full journey at any point of their interactions. This data can then inform their actions, creating a positive experience that keeps the customer invested in the company. While a connection may begin on chat, for example, agents should be able to use insight and feedback coming from other channels. Then they can create a customer experience that leaves everyone happy and satisfied.
Originally published Aug 27, 2019, updated Jan 30, 2023