Thought Leadership

Six Contact Center Trends to Watch in 2016

Millennials’ multi-trillion lifetime buying power will transform customer service, and contact center metrics will prioritize customer satisfaction. Read all the trends to keep an eye on in 2016, and check out our infographic below!

1. Millennials Will Shape the Future of Contact Centers
Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials are the “social generation,” raised in a high-tech, networked and mobile world. And they now wield $2.45 trillion in global spending power. With that clout, companies will invest in the necessary resources–multichannel software platforms and omnichannel retail strategies–to meet millennials’ demand for immediate information (self-service, webchat) and a quick response from “real people” via phone, email, and social media.

2. Resources Shift to Social Media
With consumers spending more of their time connected to social networks, companies will devote more resources to social media CRM strategies and tools. The Harvard Business Review reports that people using Twitter for customer service grew 70% from 2013 to 2014, and 30% of social media users prefer service through those channels rather than by telephone. The trend has cracked the older demographic as well: 17% of consumers over 55 now say they prefer social media instead of the phone for service.

3. Cloud is the New Normal
More and more organizations have come to trust the reliability and security of the cloud and count on it to support customer service efforts. They see the value in avoiding big on-site hardware and software purchases and instead are subscribing to “as-a-service” providers of cloud contact center solutions. According to Call Center IQ, 52% of surveyed organizations have invested in cloud contact centers, and 76% will have adopted them by the end of 2016.

4. Contact Centers Get Proactive, Especially by Text
It’s those millennials again–according to a recent study from Corvisa, 88% of the “social generation” say they are open to receiving texts from businesses. But only 43% of companies are proactively using text messages for customer service, even though 80% of all respondents said they would be impressed if a company did so. Millennials are expected to surpass the baby boomers’ buying power by 2017, and businesses will need to engage with them on every channel: phone, email, webchat, text, and social media.

5. Contact Center Agents Wear a Sales Hat
According to the CFI Group’s Contact Center Satisfaction Index, consumers appreciate it when they reach a contact center agent who is highly skilled and knowledgeable about the issue or product at hand. A staff of well-trained agents can deliver upselling benefits to companies–and it turns out customers are willing to hear the pitch, in many cases. The CCSI reports that 41% of consumers expect an agent to recommend products or services, and 43% of them are very or somewhat receptive to the agent’s advice.

6. Metrics: Customer Satisfaction, Not Call Times
The contact center world is learning from Amazon, the world’s largest Internet-based retailer, how to measure the performance of multichannel customer service. Amazon doesn’t worry about average call handle times. Instead, the focus is on problem resolution, using a metric of “Negative Response Rate” or NRR. If a problem isn’t resolved, that’s a negative response. Reps aim to keep that rate in the low single digits, even if it takes a call time of an hour to resolve.

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