Thursday, July 2, 2015

7 Technological Innovations That Are Changing the Future of Call Centers

By: CJ Silva

When people think of the typical call center, certain things come to mind: waiting hours on hold, endless verification questions, and getting transferred at least half a dozen times. On the service end, one might envision rows of frantic agents taking call after call in an overcrowded, incessantly ringing room with angry customers in their ear all day long. Thanks to the trends and innovations of the digital age, however, these once common frustrations are becoming a thing of the past.

Today, call center and customer service technology is evolving faster than ever, and here are seven game-changers to keep an eye on for the near future.

1. Cloud technology

In 2014, call center who have adopted cloud technology have seen their businesses soar exponentially. Because of cloud technology’s ability to store and organize data far more efficiently than any other method on the market today, it is a trend than virtually every tech expert believes will become the universal standard for call centers within the present decade. The advantages of operating with cloud technology are proving to well worth the conversion despite the changes required for CRMs, marketing channels, and the influx of caller data.

2. Social media metrics

With social media presence becoming more of a key component of customer service than ever before, call centers are starting to turn their attention to giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for tracking customer satisfaction and usage. Now that social media has gained more of a hold on the B2C communication dynamic, many experts are advising call centers to incorporate social media-specific metrics to their operation systems. These specialized metrics include “resolution ratio,” the amount of issues resolved over social media versus privately; and “sentiment analysis,” the ratio of positive reviews to negative reviews of the customer service.

3. Web chat

Not only has live chatting on the web proven convenient and fast for customers, but trends have shown that this form of communication has played a role in filtering customer issues based on their level of complexity. The ease and simplicity of web chatting tends to attract customers looking for immediate answers to short, direct questions, reserving the phone lines for more complicated or personal issues, such as finances and security problems.

4. Increased Mobility

Mobility has by far been the biggest focus for anything that has to do with technology in the past decade, and now that focus is spearheading innovations within call centers. It used to be that customer service was performed in one primary location, but with the growing demand for flexibility and versatility in today’s fast-paced working culture. Now, call centers have the ability to expand their operations beyond the operations room with the help of apps that enable employees to record calls, receive product pictures and videos, and communicate with customers from any location.

5. Voice biometrics

According to Kenneth Hitches, Founding Director of Sabio, “It’s estimated that traditional identification and verification takes up around a fifth of overall contact center talk time.” This equates to a lot of wasted time and wasted business opportunities for call centers at the hands of the caller security systems in place. While enforcing proper security measures is important for any business or organization, it can be done more quickly and effectively through voice biometrics technology. By analyzing a person’s voice over the phone, voice biometrics software can accurately verify the identity of the respective customer and skip over the mandatory “20 Questions” game that sometimes deters customers from calling in the first place.

6. Multichannel technology

Since every customer’s needs are unique, call centers are scrambling to adopt multi channel software to better service their customers and cut back on time spent re-routing calls and digging for information. Multichannel technology can operate on a variety of platforms, including SMS messaging, email, and web chat, and many multi channel software programs are operational on cloud systems, so business owners and employees can queue customer interactions seamlessly and efficiently.

7. Self-service through omnichannels

As customer service operations branch grow across multiple platforms, more power is being put in the hands of the customer when it comes to contacting and interacting with call centers for assistance. This is where omni channel technology is making leaps and bounds into the future of call centers. By stretching their service capabilities across platforms, from text messages to video chats anytime and anywhere, omni technology allows customers to choose their medium of communication for a more comfortable and customized experience.

With these seven call center trend on the rise, customer service will likely be completely revolutionized for both ends of the phone line (or video chat, for that matter) within the next decade. Also, call center software companies are making conversion and implementation of these technological innovations easier than ever before, so businesses can simplify their B2C operations and keep up with growing customer demands. Remember, technology is one of the greatest investments a business can make, especially when it’s geared toward customer satisfaction and convenience.

CJ Silva is VP of Operations at KOVA Corporation.