Al Cook, Director of Product and Head of Contact Centre Business at Twilio, examines how the call centre industry will change in 2017
The current call centre experience doesn’t come without its faults. It would be safe to assume that most, if not all, people can relate to the frustration of trying to contact a business only to be left on hold for minutes on end.
Whilst many companies operate IVR menus (“Please listen as our menu options have changed”), these can be just as infuriating for customers. You are often expected to patiently navigate your way through level after level of menus until finally you reach a customer service representative who has none of the information you provided in the earlier steps of the call, and simply asks you to run through them again. Consumers would love if they could get their issues resolved quickly and conveniently. Yet, all too often the agents don’t even know who they are talking to, let alone what actions the customer has already taken before reaching them.
2017 is the year in which driverless cars could leave the realms of science-fiction and become a reality, a year in which augmented and virtual reality could truly take flight and in which artificial intelligence will continue to make great strides. But what lies in store for the call centre of today?
For one thing, we will see more and more companies follow in the footsteps of the likes of Simply Business and PaymentSense, who have both overhauled their legacy contact centre systems in the last twelve months and replaced them with new, flexible cloud-based centres that can adapt to their changing customer needs. In 2017 we will see companies continuing to embrace, or at the very least seriously consider, a cloud-based contact centre solution. From start-ups all the way up to the largest of companies, the ability to scale to meet both current and future demands is essential to their success.
Whether you are building that solution from scratch, or adding new features to the infrastructure already in place, composable communication building blocks let you focus on upgrading the entire customer experience, rather than having to concentrate on the replacement or upgrading of existing hardware or software, which can be a daunting job for any company.
Take, for example, the issue of scale which we touched upon earlier. Traditional customer service solutions, which rely largely upon the work of human customer assistants, encounter problems scaling. The human element of the experience is often lost at this point. This is significant. Any call centre solution needs to keep the customer at the core of its vision because ultimately it is to the customer that they will answer. Making sure the customer experience is as smooth and pleasant as possible is essential, and it is here that the value of a cloud-based solution becomes apparent.
Cloud-based platforms allow for a companies to create innovative solutions to this problem, in a way that previously they could not. For example, by utilising CRM platforms or emerging AI technology a company can help its assistants to deal with large influxes of calls more systematically and with far more knowledge at their fingertips than previously imaginable, and all without the need to overhaul their entire system. Because of this, 2017 will be the year in which more companies will follow in the footsteps of companies like Simply Business or New Voice Media, who have both overhauled their legacy call centre systems in favour of cloud based ones.