With rapidly changing technology and rising consumer expectations, contact centers are under pressure to adapt. Here are top trends that are impacting contact centers as they work to meet these demands. Staffing firms can help them meet these demands by placing candidates with the right skills.
Unsurprisingly, technology is greatly influencing how contact centers do business. More and more centers are moving away from onsite equipment and transitioning to cloud-based technology, which offers greater flexibility, more efficient call routing, less burden on IT, and a number of other benefits.
Contact centers are also using technology to improve the customer experience – and cloud-based technology allows businesses to quickly and easily upgrade to new features to make this possible. For example, more contact centers are giving customers the option to receive a call back when hold times are long. Not only does this make the caller feel valued and increase customer loyalty, it protects contact centers from volume surges and allows greater staffing flexibility. It’s an ideal option for call centers experiencing headcount restrictions or high call abandonment rates, as well as businesses that don’t want to lose a single call.
As technology continues to progress, the demand for big data also increases. Management and marketing now have access to more metrics that allow them to better understand customer behavior, employee performance, and KPI trends. In turn, this also puts greater demands on contact center agents as they need to be more tech-savvy and open to change.
Keeping employees motivated and productive is important to every industry. Due to the repetitive nature of the job, contact centers are always looking for new ways to add excitement, incentivize employees, and boost performance, including:
- Gamification: With the increase in availability of data, there’s a greater ability to track individual metrics. Many contact centers are tapping into the power of gamification – using concepts like badges and points as incentives – to inspire employees and improve performance.For example, when employees hit monthly call volume goals, they can earn points to earn prizes, such as gift cards, cash, or event tickets.
- Flexible schedules: Many of today’s workers, particularly Millennials, prefer to stray from the typical 9-5, Monday-Friday gig. Contact centers are typically open on evenings and weekends (and often even 24/7), making it easy to provide options for workers to create non-traditional schedules.
Beyond perks and incentives, contact centers need to create an engaging, welcoming work culture if they want to retain top talent and reduce turnover. Company culture is more than a ping-pong table in the break room. It’s about creating a place that fosters trust, pride, and content employees.
Alternative Work Environments
Another way contact centers are boosting productivity is by offering alternative work environments, including:
- Exercise workstations: Most contact center workers are sitting at a desk for hours at a time which can negatively impact health and performance. To stimulate the mind and body, many contact centers are moving toward active workstations, including standing workstations, treadmill desks, and exercise ball chairs.
- Virtual offices: As contact centers move to the cloud, agents are able to work from home – all they need is a headset, an internet connection, and a computer. As call center jobs become more complex, virtual work environments will also allow companies greater access to an experienced, stable workforce.
Multi-Channel Customer Experiences
Now more than ever, consumers expect resolutions quickly. There are a number of ways that customers can engage with a company to achieve this instant gratification:
- Online chat: When customers visit a website, they want to have their questions answered while navigating the site. In order to remain competitive, businesses that have not already adopted online chat will need to act quickly.
- SMS: Another growing trend is texting via SMS. While many businesses offer text alerts and reminders, many consumers now want to open up a conversation via text.
- Social media: When customers want a fast response, many are turning to social networks. Because they’ve made an inquiry on a public platform, they expect an immediate response.
- Apps: As consumers do more and more with their smart phones, businesses need to be able to address their needs, including apps which allow customers to attempt to self-serve and connect while on-the-go.
While these channels are growing, a large percentage of consumers still value voice-to-voice communication. Consumers still typically pick up the telephone when they want to talk to someone about their issues in detail. With this, contact centers need help recruiting talent who excel on the phone, yet can also multi-task and embrace changing technology. Most centers are not dedicating separate workforces for each channel. With the right team in place and proper employee training, centers can seamlessly blend chat, text, and social media into the existing queue.
These are just a handful of trends that we see shaping the future of contact centers. Contact centers have come a long way, and they will continue to evolve. Successful contact centers will embrace new technology while creating an engaging work environment and responding to ever-changing consumer behavior.