As we end 2018 and reflect on what’s ahead in 2019, it seems like a good time to think about what’s new and what’s next in contact center technology. My team of consultants identified the top things we see dominating contact center technology discussions. I’m going to highlight four key technology areas in this post.
My call to action is this: Reflect on what you are doing in each of these areas. Assess where your center is today, where you have pain points, and how these technologies can help you transform. Then make a plan to pursue or explore them further.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE is all the buzz and, in the contact center world, is closely associated with “bots” (short for “robots). Agent-facing bots can guide agents through transactions, automate steps, find information (the right info, fast) and more. Customer-facing bots can improve self-service and (hopefully) deflect agent-handled contacts while improving the customer experience.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) follows on the heels of AI. RPA used to be BPA (Business Process Automation), and vendors have offered various forms of it for years. Some verticals like insurance are ripe targets, with lots of defined process steps, handoffs, etc. Tasks can be treated as “work items” to be routed—much like a call or an email—or they can be part of a workflow. So RPA can leverage multimedia routing engines or CRM, or buyers can turn to specialty vendors with a focus on RPA.
While CLOUD has been around a long time, the range of solution types and vendor offerings continues to expand. A significant area of differentiation surrounds the way cloud vendors sell, implement, and support solutions, with some focused on helping buyers become self-sufficient. They offer a good knowledge base that is continuously updated as their product changes. Implementation may be oriented toward “do it yourself” approaches, often with only remote implementation guidance. If you want onsite time for design, training or cutover support, you need to be explicit and determine who provides that, as it may be a partner rather than the vendor directly.
OMNICHANNEL is old news, but centers increasingly strive for seamless, integrated capabilities. They want more than just a multimedia routing engine. Centers want to present the agent with a total picture of the customer experience and history. They want to enable customers to cross channels without missing a step—from self-service to assisted service (e.g., from mobile app to a text exchange), or from one assisted channel to another (e.g., chatting transitions to a call). That means the agent is NOT the integration point, but rather is a beneficiary of integration between channels. And the system is designed to distribute work to skilled, available resources, regardless of channel.
An important piece of true omnichannel is also being able to understand what happened—internally and with customers. Reports address the variety of channels, and the customer touchpoints and experiences within and across channels. Then, the business analysts, workforce managers, supervisors and quality managers can assess and optimize processes, training, forecasts, schedules, and the resulting efficiency and effectiveness for all interactions.
ANALYTICS is something every enterprise and center needs, and most have some level of focus here. Unfortunately, few have enough resources on it, the data sources and structures they need, and the right tools to really evaluate all that data and drive insights and actions. Data analytics is a good starting point provided that you rethink how you handle it rather than churn out the same old canned reports. Speech analytics can help with very center-specific improvements, such as optimizing quality monitoring, and providing insights that drive process, training and other improvements. Text analytics provides insights about emails, chat, and text messages, not to mention the notes that agents capture about customer interactions.