Managing a contact centre in 2020 has been a challenge. Contact centres were required to ensure business continuity while focusing on customer experience amidst high inbound activity, plus managing and motivating a largely remote workforce.
We anticipate that 2021 will see contact centres focusing on transformation, not only for survival but also because organisations and clients will expect more efficiency and better customer experience.
Here are our top 5 predictions for contact centre trends in 2021.
1. Remote work is here to stay
We discussed what the post-COVID-19 contact centre would look like back in August, and our prediction remains unchanged. Further waves of COVID-19 will likely chase us well into 2021. Coupled with the increasing empathy in society, this will entrench remote working in the contact centre. Microsoft is allowing more of its staff to work from home permanently, and Google employees are to work from home at least until the summer of 2021.
Despite past hesitation about remote agents meeting targets, working from home didn’t produce the expected downfalls. According to the Fonolo industry report, Contact Center Trends 2021: A CX Watershed, 61% of contact centres said productivity wasn’t an issue. As a result, entrepreneurs are pouring billions of dollars and hours into making remote work better for everyone. The investment will focus primarily on increasing analytics, workforce management, remote monitoring technology, and data security for contact centres.
2. Cloud migration will continue to soar
This has been a catalytic year for cloud services. As a recent Gartner report noted, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered organisations to rethink their customer service strategies – initially to incorporate remote working, and subsequently for initiatives in digital agility and cost optimisation. As such, we expect to see a continuation of the shift towards cloud-based platforms and infrastructures. A cloud-based contact centre provides a level of integration and flexibility that simply can’t be offered by traditional physically-limited systems.
Cloud-based contact centre software can boost the functionality of the contact centre as a whole, as well as improve the accessibility and reliability of local service. According to Aberdeen, best-in-class businesses are 13% more likely to use the cloud. There are also distinct security benefits that come with a move to the cloud, the most prominent being that your data is safeguarded with the best technology.
3. Widespread re-evaluation of data security measures
A significant challenge for contact centre executives in the coming year is data security. Contact centres are still trying to determine the best security measures when managing customer data, especially in the work-from-home environment. We’ve witnessed greater scrutiny over security and compliance measures, including what agents view, and how they access the system data.
Data security issues might not be new, but the technology to solve them is improving all the time. We’re expecting to see massive investment in all things data in 2021, as contact centres who delayed investments in data play catch up, and those that are realising the benefits and importance choose to double-down. Many contact centres will try different methods, and others will test new technologies.
4. Investment in conversational AI will increase
Most contact centre managers are looking to AI to help them understand their data and optimise their processes. According to The Australian Contact Centre Best Practice Report 2020/21 Speech Analytics, Chatbots and Webchat are the top priorities for technology investments. In addition, Machine Learning investment is increasing with 27% of contact centres planning to implement it during 2020/21. Ecosystm research also found that contact centres are ramping up their self-service capabilities and their adoption of AI and machine learning.
Implementing a basic chatbot may not fully solve the problem at hand, but conversational AI offers a different experience by designing multiple forms of dialogues and conversations. The aim should be to make the channel irresistible – one that customers have confidence in, and that can reduce the need to email or call an agent. Successful case studies have shown that conversational AI can reduce calls and repetitive queries by 70-90%.
5. Human connection will be prioritised
In an increasingly virtual world, we need to work harder to foster human connection in contact centres. Technology can help us facilitate human interaction; that’s why the internet was created. To remove the friction and create opportunities for real connection. AI can also help us do that, but it can’t replace us altogether. It can’t fully replace a human ear because you can’t make an empathetic machine.
The best customer support agents empathise, problem solve, and learn all the time. So, instead of looking for ways to remove humans from the contact centre, we need to look for ways to put them at the heart of it. The best technology or product you can invest in right now is the one that best serves your people — your employees and your customers.
Moving ahead with confidence
As 2020 draws to a close and we wave goodbye to a year of unexpected change, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a step back and learn from the past, then move ahead with renewed confidence. This year had its challenges, but these proved to be game-changing in terms of contact centre industry innovation.
For more insights or discuss how we can assist your organisation in thriving in 2021, get in touch with our expert team at GSN, Australia’s leading contact centre solutions service.