The Future Call Center: 10 Predictions for the Next 10 Years

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proven that video-based live chat can be a good alternative.

The channel has huge potential, because it allows agents to develop a more personal connection with customers through face-to-face chat. Plus, have you ever wanted to show a customer how something works? With video chat, you can.

It also eliminates the common frustration of being put on hold; even if the agent isn't speaking, the customer is connected via the visual feed. Video Web chat also allows contact centers to anticipate problems as customers navigate their Web site and ensure that the right agent pops up at the right time.

Customer Service Will Become the Key Differentiator

Consumers don't just want great customer service, they demand it. In the U.K., half of consumers said they would buy from a competitor as the result of poor customer experience. This is similar in the U.S.,with 44 percent of consumers taking their business elsewhere when faced with inadequate service.

Plus, with the death of sustainable competitive advantage, companies can no longer rely on their well-defined niche to keep them ahead. The elusive experience becomes more important and customer service moves straight to the top of the agenda.

Adding to this, the growth of social media has transformed customer service from a one-to-one interaction to a public conversation. With customer service becoming this transparent, companies have realized they need to up their game. Bad customer service can no longer be hidden behind closed doors; every business has an online footprint of their successes and failures for all to see. As a result, companies will start to compete to offer the best customer service—with social media recommendations being the ultimate prize.

Mobile Is the Future for Customer Service Agents and Customers

According to the Economist, mobile apps are predicted to become the second most important channel for engaging with brands—just behind social media—but it's not just about apps. It's how your customers are most likely to get in contact with you, via email, live chat, social media, or in a voice call.

Companies need to optimize their mobile functionality for this, particularly by allowing customers to multitask on their mobile phone (e.g.,enabling them to read FAQ pages while on the phone to the customer service agent). Your customer service agents will make the same demands for mobile. Being able to access CRM solutions via a mobile device is a key ingredient for flexible working.

Expect Channel Preferences to Change—and Change Again

As consumers demand a personalized approach to just about everything, they expect to be able to mix and match customer service channels to create a tailor-made service. However, it's becoming increasingly hard to predict and plan for the channel hopping that this involves. That's why we predict that whatever the preference is at the moment, it will change in the next 10 years—and probably several times.

How well contact centers adapt to customers switching between channels will determine their success. This is particularly true if businesses want to appeal to the Millennial generation, who are notorious for channel-switching, as they move from mobile to tablet to laptop, all in a matter of hours. Being able to follow those channel hops while maintaining the context of the interaction is key to customer service success.

It's not just about keeping up with the change in device or channel—businesses need to keep up with the technology itself. New apps and social networks are launched all the time. WhatsApp is a great example of a channel that's taken off rapidly and is becoming a popular choice for customer service.

Voice Biometrics Will Replace Security Questions

"What's your mother's maiden name?" is one of many common security questions, but in the next 10 years, it will be more about how the customer answers a question than the answer itself. Gathering the unique voiceprints of your customers could be the solution to security problems, as voice biometrics technology develops.

It's much harder to replicate the human voice than it is to steal facts about a customer. Voice biometrics records the intricacies of the human voice, from picking up on the size and shape of the mouth to the tension of the vocal cords.

Remote Working and Location-Based Services Will Increase

With the rise of SaaS, having all your agents in one place is no longer necessary. Switching to remote working agents has lots of benefits. It can reduce the costs associated with running a call center and give employees greater flexibility. It is predicted that the growing number of virtual call centers could lead to more location-based services.

For instance, a customer calling a company could be automatically connected to an agent working remotely a few miles from their location. The agent could even arrange to meet the customer if necessary, which could be very useful for certain sectors.

The Internet of Things

Described by many as the third great wave of computing – the Internet of things or the Internet of Everything could change the way the world works. With more and more devices being able to connect to other devices or people independently, it gives rise to a world where almost everything is connected.

This could have huge implications for the contact center, enabling businesses to deliver pre-emptive service. For instance, if a patient's heart monitor is overheating, the device could send an automated service request to the right team. On a more domestic level, washing machines may be able to self-diagnose problems and notify the manufacturer when a part needs replacing—taking the customer out of the equation altogether.

The implication is that attitudes will shift; instead of buying a product, consumers will buy a product with built-in customer service, thus raising the stakes for getting service right.

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