We are one month down in the new year and though some of us have probably already forgotten our New Year’s resolutions, the contact center is full speed ahead turning 2016 predictions into 2017 realities. Aberdeen just came out with the top trends of 2017 in its report “Contact Center and Customer Experience Technology Trends in 2017.” Each of the four trends builds off technology advances that we’ve been discussing all year. We’ll take a deeper dive into each one of these trends and share how it might impact future contact center investments.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Aberdeen explains that with the increasing use of connected devices comes vast amounts of data that businesses need to analyze efficiently to make business decisions. Smart cars and thermostats have been around for years but you might not know how many devices are really connected, like the smart hairbrush. Machine learning and AI enable employees outside of data scientists to analyze this data for relevant insights to assist customers.
We completely agree that Machine Learning and AI will be major factors in business and technology for years to come. Tobias Goebel explains how AI and Machine Learning fit into the contact center in his post “How patient do we need to be with Machine Learning?”. Tobias also highlights some of the drawbacks of machine learning but he contends that the best technologies that rely on machine learning enable the user to configure their own rules and the assistant’s behavior.
Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are probably the most familiar consumer bots. They are so integrated into our lives that some families must distinguish between the ‘human Alexa’ family members and the virtual ones. Customer service departments are now using bots to help their customers get answers to questions faster and via a channel or device that they prefer using. Aberdeen suggests that bots should be able to hand over a customer to a live agent if the conversation gets too complex. The consumers we surveyed agree: 86 percent of them said that if they use a chatbot for customer service they should always have an option to transfer to a live agent.
If you’re interested in making the argument for chatbots in your contact center, consider using this business case for chatbots.
Traditionally customer service has been interaction-based. A customer initiates a conversation with a brand, usually via the phone, and the agent responds. With conversational commerce, service is relationship-based. Customers can choose the channels and times of interaction that they prefer.
Conversational commerce builds off the growing popularity of chatbots. As Tim Dreyer explained in his blog, Conversational Commerce Is Here: What Is Your Business Saying? when chatbots are responsive and helpful, consumers are more inclined to hop on their preferred communication channels like SMS and messaging apps to resolve customer service issues conveniently and quickly.
You can have the most customer-centric contact center in the world, but if agents aren’t empowered with the right information and tools to do their job, it is all for nothing. Agents often find themselves having to login to multiple systems to complete one simple task. This is frustrating for the agent and expensive for the contact center.
Contact centers must bring the customer experience out of contact center silos and break down the walls between people, processes, systems and data sources. A customer engagement center (CEC) might be just the solution to this issue. Take a look at these 6 key outcomes from building a CEC.
Your personal resolutions may be lost causes but it’s not too late to get your contact center in shape for 2017.