Before Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in January 2007, the most widely used wireless technology was a RIM BlackBerry that gave you simple access to your email and calendar. Fifteen years later, we do almost everything on our mobile device possible on your office computer — and then some.
In increasingly short spans, the way people interface with technology has massively shifted. Before smartphones, business was typically conducted in offices or one central location. From integrations to networking, everything was configured from the office, so employees had more technical capabilities at their office desks than they ever had at home. This paradigm has flipped itself on its head. What used to only be possible within the confines of an office can now be done from the palm of our hands. Work is no longer a place, but what you do.
In addition to shifting technical paradigms, the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath forced organizations to accelerate digital transformation and rapidly enable remote and distributed workforces — making technology innovation and agent enablement top strategic initiatives for many contact centers and the customers they serve.
The contact center technology landscape continues to rapidly evolve. Today’s consumers expect to access information at a moment’s notice, and they take these expectations with them into their professional lives as contact center agents. To keep up with rising consumer and agent demands, we compiled four contact center technology trends to follow in 2023 and beyond:
1. Self-service functionality is best driven by consumers’ preferences and behaviors.
While self-service solutions were once a business efficiency play, they have transformed into a fundamental and strategic customer-centric strategy. Historically, businesses focused on deploying self-service capabilities to expedite customer requests, save operating costs, and improve agent efficiency. Self service is not a new trend, but it is driven by consumers’ preferences, behaviors, and needs more than ever before. Self-service expectations are, or must be, set by how they serve the customer’s needs, not cost savings for the center.
In one recent survey, 88% of respondents shared that they expect brands to have a self-service support portal. Consumers today expect to be able to access website content, engage with chatbots, check their accounts through mobile applications, opt-in to text updates, and engage in other self-service activities regardless of the business they are interacting with. COVID-19 heightened these expectations even further as businesses digitally transformed to continue serving customers where they were — which was largely at home, on their mobile devices.
Unfortunately, for many organizations, consumers’ expectations have outpaced current self-service capabilities. To keep up, companies must develop new strategies for unified, omnichannel experiences that consider interaction channels, technologies, and escalation processes from self-service digital tools to full-service live agents. Businesses that deliver consistent, relevant experiences to their customers across all channels — enabling them to do business on their own terms and by their own means — will be more equipped to remain competitive amidst the economic uncertainty of 2023.
2. Agent enablement tools are key to a unified and simplified employee experience.
Just as your customers need the ability to serve themselves, your agents need to be enabled and empowered with the right technologies and tools to effectively do their jobs. After all, 72% of customers expect agents to have access to all relevant information and 60% are now willing to walk away after just one bad experience.
Contact center agents must regularly navigate multiple systems, which can complicate and overwhelm their ability to efficiently serve customers. Your agents need to access information across several systems, including customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, billing systems, and others. The key to solving this challenge is leveraging a fully integrated platform that provides agents with a unified view of important customer information.
In addition to providing a unified agent desktop experience, agent enablement tools and technologies, like softphone integration, workforce management (WFM), customer assist solutions, AI bots, and robotic process automation (RPA), can help simplify and streamline your agents’ workload. This offers them more time to focus on delivering the high-quality, memorable interactions your customers have come to expect.
Without foundational agent enablement tools and technologies, you risk distracted agents, long wait times, inaccurate data representations, and worst of all, frustrated customers. Your customers shouldn’t have to wait for your agents to load new screens or navigate different systems. Nor should they feel neglected by an agent who is consumed or confused by your organization’s systems. It’s critical to treat your agents the same way you would treat a customer: give them the tools and technology they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently so they can focus on fueling exceptional CX.