We embarked on a fun little survey this spring to gather input on the future of the contact center. Our focus was on which technologies are expected to have the greatest impact and what that impact might be.
Impact of Automation on Frontline Staff
We started with a general look forward into the expected impact of automation on frontline staffing levels. Nearly 50% expect automation to reduce frontline staffing in three or more years. Approximately equal numbers (a quarter of participants) sit in the pessimist and optimist camps represented by no change and change happening soon (1-2 years).
Top 3 Technologies
We asked participants to select the top three technologies they believe will have the greatest impact on contact centers of the future. Unsurprisingly, Bots, which were defined to include voice, chat, or text, are number one by a good margin. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to provide agent assistance follows with Analytics and Mobile Apps on its heels. Routing and Workforce Management (WFM), which are bread-and-butter tools for centers, rated pretty low, perhaps indicating people are not looking for as much change here. Knowledge Base has high expectations for about a third of participants.
Contact Center Goals Impacted by Technology
Next, we wanted to know what types of changes people expect technology to deliver. We focused on the top contact center goals around cost, service, and revenue to see what participants expect will be impacted the most.
Almost half showed a focus on service, and all the top technologies could help deliver on that goal. The high-ranking technologies like Bots and RPA allude to reducing handle time and volume; those each earned around 25% of the participants’ vote. Revenue change is an expectation only for a small percentage.
Impact on Employees, Customers and the Company
Finally, we presented participants with three sets of binary choices to gauge optimism or concern for the future impact on three important constituents of technology: Employees, Customers and the Company. While overall optimism is strong, two interesting insights jump out: participants expressed a significantly dimmer view of technology’s impact on the company and the highest hopes are for employees, not customers.
Where to From Here?
No matter your center size or vertical, or what perspective you bring to the crystal ball of contact centers of the future, the way to drive value from technology is to recognize it’s not all about the technology! As centers pursue bots, RPA, and a variety of AI-enabled capabilities, it is imperative that we consider the people and process changes that go hand-in-hand with these powerful tools.