The trends of the past year have done wonders for driving contact center innovation. From the implementation of Artificial Intelligence to help with customer queue automation and information fetching to shifts toward more data-driven, customer and employee focused operations.
There was also the ever important focus on omnichannel integration which helped extend the reach of businesses to a larger clientele.
With so many successes for contact centers in 2023, one can only be excited to see how 2024 is looking to top that, so let us take a look.
1. Continued Automation Improvements With AI
“…by 2025, 80% of customer service and support organizations will be applying generative AI technology in some form to improve agent productivity and customer experience (CX).”Source: Gartner
The continued development of AI is set to lead the next industrial revolution, automating the most tedious of busywork in order to allow employees to focus on their jobs without needing to break their attention away to fetch necessary information.
The current implementations of AI for contact center agents allows them to focus their full attention on their clients while the AI helps with report generation and customer data fetching to help agents improve on the customer experience side of things.
In some cases, AI is even used to detect the overall sentiment and tone of voice in a customer to allow agents to better navigate the conversation and lead to a more positive outcome.
The Customers Approve
“58 percent of residential customers support the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by customer services in order to satisfy their needs at a higher level.”Source: UnitedCallCenters
AI-assisted chatbots were seeing use instead of traditional ones, showing remarkable improvement in helping solve some of the more common issues for contact center customers.
That said, while data does show that a majority of the customers are all for the integration of AI in contact centers in order to improve the overall customer experience, it still stands to reason that the technology is quite fresh.
That is why a vast majority of these customers still prefer the human element over a bot response if it can be helped, but do not shun the potential that artificial intelligence could provide.
What Is Coming Next
“More contact centers are using AI tools now than ever before, and there has been a massive jump in usage over the past year from 59% to 90%”Source: Balto
While 2023 was the year where we have seen widespread adoption of AI technologies into contact centers, 2024 is likely to be the year where we see experimentation in the field to see how deep of an impact it can create.
Technologies that many will try to fit into their solutions are likely to be popping up left and right.
They will range anywhere from further automation to improve on both customer and employee satisfaction by shortening handling times to refining bot-to-customer interaction to the point where they become nearly indistinguishable from a real person.
We are also likely to see them used to further enhance data organization and analysis in order to streamline contact center operations and data utilization as a whole.
The Small Snag
The only challenge that lies in this titanic push forward is that innovation requires investment, and, with such an unfamiliar field, there is a lot of risk involved which may push investors away.
For service providers however, the problem of investment will lie in finding an AI-driven technology that businesses need while retaining the product’s appeal and not making it appear like bloatware that is trying to cash in on the next big thing.
There is also the issue of data privacy to be considered for customers, which is one of the biggest reasons why AI developments have slowed down in recent times as companies want to ensure that they are not stepping out of line when handling personal customer data for the purposes of training AI models.
And, since goalposts are always being moved with burgeoning regulations, a solution that is flexible and that can help these businesses adapt quickly is likely to be at the top of their lists.
2. Investing Into Omnichannel
“89% of customers are retained on average by businesses with omnichannel marketing capabilities.”Source: OnlineDasher
The other trend that is likely to continue from 2023 is omnichannel, a concept that helps unite all communication channels throughout a contact center, allowing customers to contact businesses through a channel that best suits them.
This has opened up a lot of new doors and potential customers for said businesses and the race is on to be the option that can provide these businesses with the best omnichannel tools that can help them retain this newfound customer base.
After all, customers seem to enjoy the freedom of being able to access a business through a variety of different communication channels and the ability to seamlessly transition between them.
The omnichannel technology allows for further personalization of the customer experience which looks to be the focus in 2024 alongside employee experience improvement, but more on that a bit later.
Having a contact center solution that possesses omnichannel capabilities is shaping up to be one of the more desirable traits that businesses are going to be looking into for yet another year.
3. Keeping Focus On Customer And Employee Experiences
With the introduction of so much automation and the existence of omnichannel, customer attention is at the forefront of contact center focus now more than ever.
However, so is employee satisfaction and improving the overall employee experience as the link between customer and employee seems to reflect that.
The more engaged and satisfied employees are, the more likely they are to provide the customer with a satisfying and expedient response.
Conversely, customers that do not have to wait in long queues to get their answers sorted and those that get a more personalized query experience are more likely to stay with the business that can provide for these needs.
Enabling Hybrid And Remote Work Options
Seeing how rapid the shift to cloud contact centers has been, businesses are starting to adapt their strategy and infrastructure to help enable remote and hybrid work for their contact center agents in order to maintain those lower overhead costs of not requiring a physical location.
It not only allows businesses to hire from a bigger pool of candidates, but it also provides a better work-life balance option for employees in general by not having to commute and being able to work from the comfort of their own home.
What Is Needed
“71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions.”Source: McKinsey
All of this can be accomplished with the aforementioned trends, be it eliminating redundant tasks for agents through automation or modernizing IVR systems, among other options, but also by reinventing business strategies.
This is likely to be the focus of many successful businesses that utilize contact centers in their operations.
The role of a service provider in all of this is to provide businesses with the tools necessary to facilitate these changes as there is likely to be a great requirement for AI and data analytics as well as customer and employee management and monitoring tools.
4. Data Privacy And Regulation Compliance
Finally, the main trend that will help shape the future of contact centers in the coming years is how customer data is handled when training AI models and utilizing data in general.
As the future seems to be shaping up to be more data-driven and with the shift to cloud-based contact centers, a lot of customer data tends to be collected for the purposes of improving future customer interaction and overall CX.
However, this data is quite sensitive and malicious actors are always looking to get their hands on it which poses a great risk not just for the customer’s safety, but for the business’s reputation and level of trust.
The other problem that contributes to that is how ethical they are about using this data to train their AI models and develop other technologies, which is why regulation compliance becomes such an important topic.
Keeping Up With Regulations
The main risk here lies within AI itself. While it is a potentially useful tool, the ethics behind its data use are a hot topic globally. That is why businesses will look to keep on top of emerging regulations to make sure that they are not overstepping their boundaries while ensuring that any ongoing projects do not suffer greatly from these shifts in the data-driven landscape.
They are likely to be on the lookout for more AI experts and data analysts to help them pre-emptively cover their bases to minimize losses across the board and optimize ROI.
Keeping employees educated on not just new tech, but also on utilizing secure work practices will become an even bigger priority in order to prevent potential data breaches, especially with omnichannel opening up new avenues of attack that contact center agents may not have experienced prior.
Helping Contact Centers Realize Regulation Compliance
In order to manage all of this, contact center solutions from service providers will need to remain as flexible as they can be so that they can adapt to regulations and customer trends, but they should also provide businesses with the tools necessary to help train agents around these new trends and analytics that will assist future AI experts and data analysts in their jobs.
Contact center trends in 2024 seem to be following in the footsteps of the previous year with an emphasis on optimization of what currently works (CX and EX, automation, regulation compliance…) as well as experimentation with new tools to foster innovation within the field (AI and customer data application).
It would be wise for CCaaS providers to start prepping for these changes early by investing into data analysts and AI experts themselves so they can better determine which emerging technologies will be a must-have in the industry going forward and which ones are deemed too high of a risk.
Bicom Systems’ own contact center solution is preparing itself for the new year with the introduction of omnichannel into the fold as well as ensuring employee satisfaction by accommodating remote work options and other employee benefits.