2020: The Year in Review

Author: Simon Black | Date: 27/01/2021

Like many industries operating in the unpredictable business environment, we see today, customer service is having to adapt. According to a Microsoft report, the expectations customers have for contact centres have been steadily increasing.1 To make matters worse, at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, calls to contact centres classified as “difficult” doubled.2

These factors, alongside digital transformation, and the various contact and call centre problems the industry has to contend with, have resulted in the emergence of a variety of new trends that are having a significant impact on how contact centres operate. Call centre quality assurances help to understand how these trends are set to impact contact centre management and best practices with how to improve customer service and maintaining business continuity. 

In this article, we’re going to look at some of these trends in more detail, and examine their impact on contact centres in 2022 and beyond.

Let’s delve straight into the first trend on our list.

Suggested reading: Learn more about the best practices for contact centre success in our recent blog post — 5 Best Strategies for Successful Contact Centre Management – Remotely or Otherwise

Increased use of cloud software

A trend we are seeing emerge in a number of work environments, including both call and contact centres, is operations moving to the cloud. Cloud-based contact centres have slowly become the majority, with 75% of all contact centres now operating in the cloud — 44% fully and 31% hybrid.3

While this trend has been visible for some time now, the shift towards remote working has undoubtedly seen it accelerate. Furthermore, the movement of contact centres to the cloud is also being driven by the wide range of benefits businesses can access as a result. Contact centres that are already utilising cloud-based solutions are profiting from:

  • Reduced costs
  • Greater security
  • Increased accessibility
  • Enhanced security
  • Improved scalability
  • Effortless data visualisation

Another important factor contributing to moves to the cloud is the increased visibility over the customer journey contact centres can access. Cloud operating systems can simplify the collection and storage of data across communication channels, including call transcripts and chatbox conversations, helping to facilitate continuous improvements to the customer experience.

As we go forward, it seems likely that we will see more contact centres move their operations fully into the cloud. Those that already have look set to obtain a competitive advantage with the help of modern communications features, a reduction in downtime and the seamless, rapid implementation of new technology.

Reinventing call scripting

Call scripting, a process designed to guide agents through customer interactions, has long been a staple of contact centres. In fact, scripting is already helping to reduce the number of training agents required, allowing them to become experts on each customer they deal with. However, the trend we are now seeing is that software is redefining the process and delivery of scripting based on what customers are asking for. 

As technology develops and focus is increasingly placed on driving efficiency by saving valuable time, call scripting is undergoing a transformation. Scripts can now be built using a library of system controls, allowing access to a single interface point, making it easier to follow processes, regardless of where information is housed.

This new approach is redefining scripting in contact centres. Software platforms are facilitating the seamless linking of multiple back-office applications and databases, providing agents with all the information they need for customer interactions on a single desktop. The result is rapid and comprehensive guidance, helping agents provide customers with relevant information and reduce call times by up to 40%.

This process also helps ensure that high rates of First Call Resolution (FCR) can be obtained, as agents are given the support they need to resolve queries upon first contact. As a result, customer satisfaction increases, and agents have the capacity to deal with a higher volume of calls on a daily basis. Contact centres can therefore become more productive and efficient, ensuring businesses are well-equipped to cater to increased demand and expectations for customer service.

Recent advances in scripting are also helping to facilitate a seamless transition to hybrid working. Calls can be transferred between agents and locations while still retaining all the information gathered from the customer to that point, saving time and ensuring satisfied customers.

New and dynamic call centre scripting tools can also provide a host of other features that are driving their adoption within contact centres, including:

  • Social media and email integration, with feeds linked to scripts for a consistent customer experience across channels.
  • On-demand screen pop-ups of appropriate scripts for incoming records, calls and media.

Next Best Action

A hugely significant trend for contact centres worldwide, implemented correctly, Next Best Action (NBA) has the potential to transform contact centre efficiency, outcomes and best practices. NBA utilises AI, machine learning (ML) and pre-configured business rules to suggest to contact centre agents the next steps they should take when dealing with a specific customer.

Software now has the capacity to dynamically guide contact centre agents based on what a specific customer is asking for, before suggesting the next best action to take with that customer.

As a result, the future for contact centres looks set to revolve around their ability to analyse calls in real-time and obtain an enhanced understanding of their customers. Improvements in both these areas are helping to facilitate the prompting of actions to agents, thereby allowing them to determine the direction they need to take with customers in real-time.

With NBA, contact centres can begin the process of transforming the service they provide by:

  • Delivering more personalised customer experiences with the help of suggestions that are tailored to customers and their specific needs.
  • Improving their FCR rates, which can be achieved with the help of the increased accuracy NBA provides as it guides agents through interactions.
  • Increasing productivity, as NBA helps agents resolve queries faster and subsequently deal with an increased number of calls each day.

Continued hybrid and remote working

As with most workspaces, contact centres have seen a considerable increase in home and hybrid working since the outset of the pandemic. Although there were inevitably some initial difficulties, contact centres have on the whole largely been able to thrive in this context, which looks increasingly likely to become the norm.

However, it’s worth noting that, as hybrid and remote working continues, contact centre managers and team leaders will increasingly need to deploy and rely upon new tools and technology to ensure they can:

  • Proactively manage agent wellbeing
  • Monitor performance
  • Ensure the delivery of high-quality customer service

Fortunately, the latest trends in technology are making this much more achievable, which takes us into the next trend on our list.

Deployment of voice and speech analytics

Even with the emergence of communication channels such as email and live chat, contact centres still deal with large volumes of customer calls. As a result, contact centres are increasingly looking to perform continuous analysis with the aim of improving call-handling processes, driving this trend — the deployment of voice and speech analytics.

While speech and voice analytics may sound like similar pieces of software, they perform distinct functions:

  • Speech analytics: This software records conversations to analyse phonetics — picking up specific keywords and transcribing what is said. The vocabulary the system is programmed to recognise may be limited to a few words or the whole dictionary.
  • Voice analytics: Instead of picking out keywords, voice analytics evaluate vocal patterns, such as tone and pitch, to assess the speaker’s emotional state, using cognitive technology to compare recordings with known voice patterns that signify emotions.

The deployment of these two individual pieces of software is a growing trend in the contact centre space as a result of the benefits they provide, namely:

  • Proactive agent monitoring: This software makes it possible to monitor agents’ performance, emotions, and state of mind even as they work from home. This allows managers to intervene early and provide support to agents when they are struggling. 
  • Identification of actionable improvements: Contact centres are increasingly using this software to pinpoint where improvements can be implemented, including agent training needs and process changes that can drive efficiency.
  • Improved understanding of customers: Voice and speech analytics can facilitate enhanced understanding of customers and what they want, information that can help agents resolve queries on first contact, increasing FCR.
  • Modelling of best practices: The ability to hear and read what the best-performing agents in a contact centre are saying and doing allows managers and team leaders to ensure these best practices can be implemented across their teams.

Analytics and insights

Even with the help of new and innovative software, contact centres are always looking for ways to improve, and currently, this includes:

  • Visualisation of how their operations are performing
  • Ensuring that agents are fully-equipped to match customer expectations
  • Gaining a better understanding of their customers

Because of the desire within contact centres to implement these improvements, and make their operations more efficient, we are seeing an increase in the use of analytics in order to glean useful and actionable insights. This emerges as businesses begin to understand the true value of analytics. 

In a contact centre environment, analytics and insights primarily provide value by facilitating an improved understanding of customer needs, and by helping to identify areas of improvement for agents, subsequently increasing the quality of service they deliver.

As a result of the impact analytics and insights are already having on contact centres, and the potential they have to continue driving efficiency and process improvement, this is a trend we expect to see throughout 2022 and beyond.

Increasing automation

Contact centre agents require a variety of skills and robust training in order to deliver exceptional customer service. Despite this, agents often find themselves undertaking mind-numbing and repetitive tasks. 

Dedicating a significant amount of their working hours to these tasks can reduce the time agents spend answering calls and resolving queries, and negatively impact the level of service they are providing to customers. Remember, unmotivated agents who are becoming frustrated in their role are far less likely to satisfy customers with high-quality service.

As a result, in order to better support their human agents, we are now seeing contact centres utilise automation by investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven solutions that work collaboratively to improve the employee experience.

Automation is already providing contact centres with a variety of positive outcomes, including:

  • Allowing agents to focus on more strategic and complex tasks
  • Increased efficiency
  • More proactive customer service
  • Reductions in costs

Prepare for the future of contact centres

Even though the trends we have looked at above cover a range of contact centre functions and processes, together they make it very clear that the future of contact centres will be reliant on, and driven by, new and innovative technology and software solutions.

As we have explored above, new trends in technology are not only creating more efficient processes and outcomes in contact centres — they are also helping to manage employee wellbeing, facilitate a better understanding of customers, and increase productivity. 

At Awaken, we use our years of knowledge and experience to ensure our customers can adapt to the ever-changing trends and technology influencing contact centres, helping you to build the contact centre of the future, today.

With the help of our products and the capabilities they can offer, our customers can benefit from the latest trends in contact centre technology, overcome issues, and access a whole host of outcomes, such as:

  • Insights that help you understand the entire customer journey
  • A complete picture of what’s driving volumes and sentiment
  • Proactive management of the customer journey
  • Agent guidance software that integrates with legacy systems
  • A better understanding of both your customers and agents

If you are interested in learning more about the latest contact centre trends or want to find out how Awaken can help you deliver exceptional customer services outcomes on a consistent basis, get in touch with our team today.

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