Thought Leadership

Six Contact Center Trends for 2015

What does the new year hold for contact centers and customer service? Read about the top trends we believe will impact the industry in 2015 below!

1. Multichannel/omnichannel is good, but self-service is even better.

Most businesses understand the value of multichannel contact–engaging with customers by phone, email, webchat, text, and other venues.

And large enterprises are mastering omnichannel strategies, closing the seams on the customer experience from marketing to first contact to online and brick-and-mortar sales. But if a customer can take care of issues themselves, it can save time, money, and headaches for all parties involved.

Organizations will offer customers FAQs and other easy online paths for problem resolution. “Visual IVR” apps for tablets and phones will gain popularity, using automation to quickly guide customers to the information they need without costly human intervention and support.

2. Contact centers harden cyberattack defenses.

It seems just about every week we hear about a data breach at a major retailer, bank, or government agency. And consumers are miffed by the lack of transparency about what happened to their data and when.

Organizations will make cybersecurity their top priority for 2015, tapping all available security tools, such as biometrics using fingerprints and voiceprints, transaction tokens, and data encryption.

In January, President Barack Obama announced a number of new cybersecurity proposals–pending Congressional approval. He wants to make it easier for the government to prosecute groups and individuals behind botnets and denial-of-service attacks. He also wants companies to be more forthcoming to consumers about risks to their data.

3. Customers waiting in long hold queues? How the 90s of you!

In DATAMARK’s 2014 Contact Center Preferences Survey, a majority of respondents said, given a choice of newer customer-service technologies, they would prefer to use an automated phone or online option that would allow them to arrange for a callback rather than remain on hold.

In this day and age, callback technologies should be the norm for call centers operated by large enterprises. We expect to see these technologies adopted by small-to-medium organizations in 2015.

A complete solution will allow a customer to arrange for callbacks through web pages, social media sites, and mobile apps.

4. Shifting into neutral.

Another negative perception customers have of contact centers–that you’ll be served by someone in a faraway country with a hard-to-understand accent–may be a distant memory as we move into 2015.

Organizations realize that it is worth a little extra cost to establish in-house or outsourced contact centers in the Midwest and the Southwest United States, and in other countries where neutral-accented English is spoken. In DATAMARK’s Contact Center Preferences Survey, 87% of respondents said they normally speak English when reaching out to a contact center, and 45% said they prefer to deal with an agent who speaks their language with a neutral accent.

Neutral-accented English and a familiarity with U.S. culture are two main reasons why the Philippines became the world’s call center leader in 2012 and continues to pull a significant amount of business process outsourcing work away from India.

5. Onshore/nearshore strategy to engage Hispanic consumers.

As mentioned above, neutral accents are valuable when dealing with U.S.-based customers. But imagine the value of contact center agents who are fluent in neutral-accented English and Spanish.

Along the U.S.-Mexico border, there is a large workforce of bilingual speakers available to staff outsourced contact centers located in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Bilingual speakers help organizations engage with the $1.2 trillion U.S. Hispanic consumer market by building relationships through authenticity and connecting through language and culture.

An onshore/nearshore outsourced contact center strategy offers companies the benefits of lower costs and ease of travel, comparable time zones, and high levels of process oversight.

6. High-performance CRM.

At Call Center Week 2014, the industry’s largest trade show, a number of vendors displayed very powerfully, all-encompassing software tools for customer relationship management, business intelligence, and analytics.

The software taps the vast amount of data–from voice, email, chat, and social media–that companies typically collect and store in the cloud. The tools take advantage of mobile device features, such as the ability to photograph documents and send them to call center agents for problem resolution.

Typically, each step of the customer-agent interaction is monitored where possible, from first contact to a (hopefully) positive message from the customer posted on social media. Analytics are presented with user-friendly visualizations on dashboards.

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