December is the time of year when people start to get nostalgic about the past and look forward to the future. While we spend lots of time reflecting on the previous 12 months, listing the highs and the lows of 2012, we also look into our crystal balls and see what the future holds.
The future for the call center industry is shaping up to be a bright one, and I wanted to see what specific predictions that industry experts would have for the coming year. To this end, I spoke with Kevin Bottoms, vice president of business development at TELUS (News - Alert) International, to see what he saw as he peeked into the future.
TELUS is a company that specializes in global customer service and contact center outsourcing. Speaking of outsourcing, Bottoms feels that companies will use outsourcing to gain a cultural and competitive edge, forming new partnerships that will allow companies to reinvent their brands or products.
Bottoms sees culture as a huge trend for call centers. “The emphasis on cultural compatibility in contact center outsourcing will be big,” he said. “RFP questions focused on efficiency and productivity metrics will soon share airtime with questions around culture and values. It will become increasingly important for companies to build true partnerships with providers that can represent their culture and brand regardless of location.”
In order to achieve the above goals, says Bottoms, companies will need to find the right fight. They will look to identify the right-sized partners, ensuring that companies get the necessary attention and investment they need from their outsourcing partners. This will lead to a greater maturity in the call center world, with agents that are even more skilled, educated and in-demand and therefore better able to deal with savvy, knowledgeable customers.
This will help lead to a new customer experience, according to Bottoms.
“Given the availability of information, consumers will increasingly ask more varied and detailed questions when speaking to customer service agents. This even includes bargaining over price or asking agents for their own personal opinions. There is a real opportunity for companies to approach customer experience in a new way, with agent training evolving to handle these conversational, trusted advisor type interactions.”
But, he cautions, companies should continue to see attrition as a serious concern and develop plans for how to address it.
All in all, 2013 is shaping up to be an interesting, exciting year in the call center space, as agents and companies reach a new level of maturity that should benefit companies and customers alike. I look forward to next December, when I can look back on these predictions to see if Bottoms hit the mark!
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