Contact Centre Trends – The 5 ways the industry will transform in 2021
J. R. R. Tolkein might have been born in 1916, but it’s like he saw 2020 coming a mile off.
“It does not do to leave a live dragon, out of your calculations, if you live near one”
We’ve all lived near the same dragon this year. There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make us all feel like neighbours, hey kids? But going back to Tolkein’s words, whilst this year has proven that predicting the future can feel impossible, it’s also a year that’s taught us the linchpin importance of planning.
As contact centre managers, our dragons have been particularly wily rascals. We’ve faced mass migration to remote workforces, and dealt with customers in urgent need during unprecedented times of demand and global uncertainty. But arguably, contact centres have come into their own during this period. In our work, we’re already primed to push the envelope when it comes to effective communication. So for our workforces, digital transformation has been a muscle we’re trained to flex. But having had to rely on it so urgently and effectively, gives us a good idea of where to place our focus in the coming months.
For a fire-proof 2021, here’s what we’re looking at…
When one of our core communication channels gets shaken, for example phone lines have to migrate into individual agents’ homes, seamless transitions are vital. This means our live chat, email, websites and texts are unified in tone and functionality - so our customers don’t feel like they’ve lost their only touchstone with us. Whilst it’s always reassuring to hear Rick’s dulcet tones on the end of the phone, our customers need to be able to reap this warm fuzz of security in other ways. Because if nothing else, after this year, Rick really needs a holiday.
Customers now are already conditioned to use multiple channels to get in touch. But our job comes in when 89% of these customers expect consistency across all channels (commbox). 2021 isn’t just about giving customers lots of options, it’s about making those options stand-alone efficient (aka not just signposting people back to the phones when things get sticky on live chat), and harmonising our channels like Whitney harmonises chords when she wants to dance with somebody.
Hopefully we’ve all heard by now, the (Zoom) wedding’s on. Customers and self-service...turns out they’re a match made in heaven...and after all that worry they’d hate each other! In fact, 40% of customers only get in touch if they’ve already exhausted self-service options (zendesk). SO, 2021 isn’t about pointlessly debating whether self-service is worth it, it’s about investing in it with confidence. It’s time to slick up FAQs, polish virtual assistants, record video tutorials, and redesign knowledge bases. Because these mines of information empower customers by solving their problems and enhancing their experience, as well as saving us guys cost and time. Long live that marriage.
Video has always been talked about with teenage excitement, but now the grown-up thing to do is to pay attention to it. Seeing as real life interaction is at an all-time ‘not allowed’ right now, video is a way to help people feel connected. Whether the videos are interactive tutorials for our hard-working agents, or a more personal and animated flair for our customers, they undoubtedly aid engagement.
Word’s been on the street for a little while now, contact centres are on track for a rebrand. Having grown from call centres in times of old, we’re now moving towards an era of ‘experience hubs’. Spaceship jokes aside, this is a chance for us to shift and expand. Instead of existing as problem-solving places, on guard to deal with frustrated customers when things go wrong, we’re here for the good times, too. Contact centres are at the helm of designing positive customer journeys, collecting data to provide tailored CX and forging valuable long-term relationships with our customer base. Whilst experience hub sounds very futuristic, the concept is far from alien - it’s fundamentally human.
Another popular debate topic: is the IVR here to stay? Yes: a great way to manage agent call flows, IVRs aren’t going anywhere. Over here, we say don’t fix it if it ain’t broke, but do for god’s sake - evolve it. Intuitive scripting, and reactive content is at the heart of an effective IVR. Left to go rusty, IVR language and messages can lose the faith of customers rapido. As contact centres, our best tactic is not to neglect IVRs for fear of them being old-school, but to nurture them into the new age with professionally written and streamlined content, which is updated on the reg, and knows how customers think.
So there’s our big 5 priorities for 2021. Whilst that’s a pretty punchy to-do list, we’re excited. In such a paralysing year, contact centres have the digital legs long enough to dream big. But if you’re a business with a lot on your plate right now, and need a helping hand to implement this stuff - pass the buck this way, we love that buck. We’ll bring that buck right into next year.