2021 was a momentous year for the Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) industry. In the face of the pandemic, organizations have continued to adapt. Most have permanently adopted a hybrid working model, and have adjusted to new methods of communication, such as video. But what does this year have in store? Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO and Co-Founder of Content Guru, discusses his predictions for the contact center trends for 2022.
1. Natural Language Processing (NLP) will kill off Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
What started as written communications, like ‘live chat’ and SMS based conversations, is now evolving at lightning speed with the latest AI-powered Natural Language Processing (NLP).
NLP combined with AI can apply the full range of digital stratification and analytical techniques to the spoken word, in real time, and so we are starting to see the emergence of voice as a true digital channel. NLP will curtail, and eventually end, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which we usually encounter as ‘press one to continue’ on calls. IVR is cumbersome, frustrating, and doesn’t work well for mobile users or those on the move.
We can now cut straight through with a ‘say what you want’ interface using NLP and take the consumer directly to the person or automated service best placed to deal with their enquiry. When combined with information systems, NLP interaction enables the automatic opening and completion of records, so that by the time a call reaches a human customer service agent, much of the background work has already been done.
This in turn will evolve the nature of customer service careers from the old call center stereotype of boring, repetitive, machine-like work to a much more fulfilling path in which learning algorithms in the cloud free human customer service workers to become decision-based and empathetic.
2. A picture is worth a thousand words
Lockdown saw ‘on-demand video’ arrive at everyone’s doorstep, and this has proved highly useful for customer engagement. What we’re seeing now is photo and video sharing being used to identify and verify issues and even to problem solve. An image can be automatically examined through image recognition or by a human agent to improve first contact resolution (FCR) and cut down on repeat calls.
3. Knowledge management is speeding up interactions
By working across multiple information sources, our cloud technology is able to provide customer service agents with pertinent information when they need it. We do this by examining how the consumer has arrived at the contact center and by listening and observing throughout their interaction. In doing so we can cut down average call times by much of the 10% that is spent, on average, looking up information while the consumer waits. By increasing efficiency and providing personalization, we can reduce agent training time and handle more calls, while improving the customer experience.
4. Cloud migration is kicking up a storm
We are starting to see increasingly large critical customer engagement estates being moved into the cloud. Up until recently, the majority of cloud migrations were from SMEs and early adopters. However, the pandemic exposed fundamental flaws in the capabilities of large organizations that hadn’t invested in their digital journeys. Now we are beginning to see a rush of major procurements demanding omni-channel functionality with 99.999% resilience and compliance with standards such as PCI DSS electronic payment security. By making these cloud and digital transformations, large organizations will serve their customers better and gain competitive advantage. Those who fail to invest or make poor decisions will be punished savagely by the market.
5. Customers expect data security and protection as standard
It’s often said that data is the new oil. If that’s the case, then data loss is fast becoming the new oil spill.
In today’s security-conscious world, customers and regulators simply won’t stand for data loss or cyber attacks. Any tolerance there once was amongst consumers is vanishing and they are abandoning organizations in droves when they don’t feel their data is being respected. Customers are starting to understand the importance of standards such as PCI DSS card security, and are more likely to challenge businesses that ask them to read out their card number over the phone. The expectation is that an organization will have secure and compliant processes at every turn.
Contact center trends for 2022: The take-away points
Customer experience is becoming the primary differentiator for contact center customer engagement.
2022 will see an arms race in how personalized customer experience can become while balancing the responsibilities of data security. Ultimately, customers want to feel valued and understood, and for their data to be treated respectfully.
Contact center customer engagement is becoming increasingly about digital self-service.
With the rise of digital self-service, there is an expectation that interactions and transactions will take place across any means of communication, at any given moment. This poses a challenge to any organization that serves consumers: they need to adapt and evolve their means of engagement with customers very quickly.
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