Top five contact centre trends in 2021
There’s no doubt that last year presented us with immeasurable challenges, forcing businesses and contact centres to take decisive action and drive significant change in the way they operate. And while many may have already been on a gradual path towards digital transformation, the process was drastically accelerated due to necessity.
This need for fast-paced adoption of technology and strategies to accommodate remote working scenarios has seen new trends emerge within the contact centre industry, as well as a number of existing trends gaining traction at a rate far exceeding initial expectations.
Industry experts and SA’s leading provider of cloud-based contact centre technology, 1Stream, offers insights into these top five contact centre trends for 2021.
1. Chat and WhatsApp
In many ways driven by customer demand, there has been a consistent increase in the need to incorporate chat into a contact centre. This trend has gained momentum over the past few years, and has also now shifted towards the inclusion of WhatsApp – the prevalence and widespread consumer adoption of this platform has necessitated businesses to integrate it into their suite of communication channels. As we progress through the coming year, what we will also see is greater understanding of the need for streamlined integration of these chat platforms within the contact centre environment. Ensuring that chat can be routed, monitored and reported on in conjunction with other channels means that agents are not left idle, nor are they inundated with voice and chat queries simultaneously due to systems that do not speak to each other.
2. Business analytics and reporting
There’s no escaping the importance of customer service – if you get things wrong, customers will naturally move away and your business will suffer. The key to ensuring you get things right, however, lies in accessing consolidated data from all relevant sources and effectively reporting and analysing this in order to identify areas for development. In addition, given the current context and extended period of remote working that we all find ourselves in, comprehensive business analytics is at the heart of optimising staff costs, which typically constitute around 65% of a contact centre’s expenses. Knowing when to scale up or down can have a marked impact not only on the expense line (too many agents means wasted expense on idle time), but also on customer experience (too few agents means long waiting periods and poor customer service).
Integration is by no means new on the scene as a contact centre trend, but it remains a core focus in the enhancement of business operation. Effective and comprehensive integration between systems and platforms enables agents to work more efficiently and productively, and allows managers to better report, analyse and improve processes. From standard integration solutions to more complex and custom integrations that meet a business’s unique requirements, ensuring all systems are effectively connected is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ in a contact centre. In a world that is now vastly digital and where contact centres are required to manage multiple platforms and channels, it is quite simply essential.
4. Self-service, AI and virtual assistants
Self-service scenarios offer benefits for both the consumer and the business. It offers a quick and easy way to get the answer to a question a consumer may have without the need of making a phone call and waiting in a queue. It also allows businesses to automate some of the simpler processes and reserve the more costly or valuable input from agents for the more complex scenarios that cannot be covered by AI. It is not a surprise then that this is a trend for the coming year as businesses work to optimise their processes and manage costs effectively.
5. Speech analytics
The technology behind speech analytics is maturing over time, improving in accuracy and reducing in cost. As this trend continues, speech analytics will eventually find its place as a standard feature in contact centres, and one that will vastly improve processes, automating the conversion of audio files to text and spotting keywords and sentiment. With a more complex speech analytics algorithm in place, a better understanding of customer interactions is possible, agent performance can be better analysed and assessed, and staff hours currently dedicated to sifting through recordings can be put to more valuable use.
As these trends continue to cement their place and evolve, the important thing will be to remain aware and adaptable, and to partner with the best possible technology providers to offer your business the best chance of success.