Call centers have long been an element integral to a business’ success, but this year in particular showed considerable improvements and progress in terms of how agents interact with customers.
The rapidly approaching year is looking to be no different, as the contact center as a whole will certainly integrate next-generation features and technology that empowers agents to handle large numbers of inbound inquiries and outbound contacts.
Based on developments that occurred throughout 2011 in the contact center, here are some predictions for what call center software tools will help take contact centers to the next level in 2012.
IVR self-service: The call center industry will surely take on a more dedicated approach to improving customer satisfaction and loyalty, but will still heavily rely on IVR self-service to handle call influxes and disperse high-value customers to live agents. Much like a traffic cop, a call center’s IVR system can immediately handle call queues and direct each call to the appropriate department. According to recent statistics from Global Industry Analytics, the global market for IVR systems is projected to hit $2.78 billion by 2017, with much of this growth to kick-start next year.
Social media: As social media continue to come to the forefront, call centers are increasingly adopting this technology as an additional layer to customer outreach. In 2011, social media proved to be a channel of rapid and voluminous feedback from customers, especially with the prevalent tendency of people to voice their customer experiences – negative or positive – on social networks like Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter. In 2012, we will see social media become more of a requirement and less of an option as more companies move to assess the benefits to their customer service processes.
Unified communications: Video conferencing and instant messaging definitely underwent a big audition in the enterprise in 2011, but easily made the team as effective communication tools for businesses. In 2012, conferencing and chat will potentially become “captains” in the call center, as contact centers come to terms with these technologies as being additional interactive methods for agents to communicate with customers. Thanks to faster broadband and more emphasis on collaboration, conferencing and IM capabilities will continue to secure their niche in the contact center in the New Year.
Virtualization: As opposed to traditional contact centers, which require lofty set-up costs and installation wait-time, cloud-based call centers – or those in which agents work from remote locations and require just a headset and computer – are rapidly gaining traction. In addition to speedy deployment, virtual call centers enable businesses to easily scale their workforce based on current business demands, trimming down on costs and boosting productivity. In 2012, call centers will increasingly move to the cloud in an effort to achieve financial and technical advantages without being limited by geography.
Performance management: Call centers will always be customer-centric, which is why in 2012, contact centers will hone in on gauging how well their agents are performing, and how satisfied their end-users are with service. Using specialty call center software, such as recording and analysis tools, call centers will be able to gain an objective method for measuring and evaluating the performance of all contact center activities. The clearer the picture, the more likely agents will deliver a more superior performance that will positively impact customer satisfaction, as well as callers’ brand experience and revenues.
Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves