2012-2015: What’s coming to contact centers

The future of the contact center, the very near future, is all about integrated technology. We have a lot of things going on now, a lot of separate channels where consumers want to interact with companies, and a lot of separate systems trying to handle it all. The future is about tying it all together, making it easier for both the customer and the agent, and collecting and feeding detailed knowledge into the rest of the organization.

I see seven basic areas where contact centers need to focus:

SMS Chat: That’s how customers like to interact with each other, especially younger, more mobile customers. They prefer SMS to talking on their phone. They’re not only open to using SMS for service, they really like it.

Video: Although “video phones” have been part of the sci-fi vision of the future for decades, it’s ready now. Smartphones, not desktops, are the vehicle for video conferencing and they enable customers to literally show you the problem.

Smart CRM: CRMs are evolving. They started as glorified address books. Now you can have a smart CRM that not only knows detailed information about the customer, but is also equipped to help the agent answer questions in natural language.

More (and more) Social Channels: Customers are all over Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is coming on strong. And industry specific tools like Yelp! and Trip Advisor are also increasingly important. You’ll need to plug into where your customers are (and where they’re going next).

Smoother Transitions: Consumers move from channels and networks without thinking about it. Twitter to web to SMS to voice or video-your CRM will need to be able to follow them just as easily.

One Queue to Rule Them All: Your CRM will need to support all the channels in a unified fashion and give consumers the same experience on chat and Facebook, even when talking with a live person.

Simple Wins: Agents will be faced with multiple interactions and channels. Your CRM needs to help simplify this to make it easy for them to engage with customers.

To find out more about the Future of the Contact Center, check out the first edition of our new best practice guide series, Astute Advice. –Alex George, CTO, Astute Solutions