The call center has never been more important. In a post-COVID world, high-quality customer service that can be delivered remotely is essential. Not only is it what your customers expect, but it’s also essential to profitability. After all, 65 percent of people who have unsatisfactory experiences in the call center share their frustration with others.
That’s why call center technology is so important. While you can’t monitor 100% of all customer interactions, you can use technology to find and address issues before they impact your bottom line. When the right technology is implemented correctly, it improves productivity, increases efficiency, simplifies analytics, and enhances the customer experience.
The key is to use the most up-to-date call center technology. Best-in-class contact centers utilize technology to set themselves apart and lead in customer service. So what does that look like?
What is Call Center Technology?
Call center technology is crucial for improving contact centers for the better. In fact, 93% of contact centers agree that technology is very important for creating a better customer experience. Call center technology encompasses a wide range of software and hardware that does everything from automating processes to managing customer relationships, analyzing data, to predicting behaviors. It refers to any technology that call centers use to complete their jobs, interact with customers, and manage day-to-day operations.
How Has Call Center Technology Changed Over the Years?
Over the years, call center technology has changed drastically. The first commercial-use call center opened in 1957 with the sole goal of driving sales. Since that time, contact centers have become the epicenter of customer service. They’re how customers ask questions, provide feedback, gain help, pay bills, purchase products, and communicate their desires.
Call centers have gone from simple rooms filled with phones to complex technological centers that rely on complex algorithms and software as much as human operators. Thus, call center technology has advanced from simple automatic dialers to Interactive Voice Response (IVR), remote desktop technology, collaboration tools, customer relationship management (CRM) software, omnichannel technology, and beyond.
The only question is, “What is the future of call center technology?”
13 Call Center Technology Trends to Watch
According to Cisco’s 2020 Contact Center Global Survey, technology advances are driving consumer expectations in the contact center. Of those technological advances:
- Over 90% of agree that the most important capabilities for contact centers are intelligent routing, look/feel of UI, and integrated omnichannel
- And 94% consider it important to have all of their communications and collaborative functions well integrated into a single product suite
Let’s dive into these innovative call center technology trends to watch out for and explain what they are and how they can help.
1. Omnichannel Solutions
According to Cisco, 91% of contact centers feel that an integrated omnichannel experience is the top capability of any call center. Customers must be able to reach customer service how they want, when they want, and on the channel they want.
But omnichannel support goes beyond just being responsive to customers across many channels. That’s the bare minimum. What customers really want is a consistent experience across all channels, meaning the customer does NOT have to repeat themselves even if they switch between platforms or customer support agents. They should be able to go from email to phone to chat seamlessly.
To provide omnichannel support, you need innovative call center technology that allows you to offer a unified approach to the customer experience. There should be a central repository of all customer data that any agent can access at any time to give the customer the service and results they expect. Omnichannel must be fully integrated into your CRM, QA, sales, and more.
2. Quality Assurance Technology
QA technology is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal for assessing ROI in the contact center. When implemented correctly, it makes it easy to track both hard and soft gains so that you can improve agent attrition, increase sales, reduce customer churn, reduce debtor days, increase agent engagement, and improve training effectiveness.
With the right quality assurance technology, you should be able to track, manage, and improve:
- Agent performance
- Training success, failure, and needs
- Operational efficiency
- Internal and external collaboration
- Customer experience
- Call center alignment with business goals.
QA technology, such as Scorebuddy’s quality assurance solution, is ideal for tracking essential key performance indicators that empower your call center team to evaluate the customer experience while providing the necessary tools to monitor and manage productivity. Scorebuddy goes beyond merely capturing performance data and instead provides you a framework for QA management so you can take action on every insight.
The goal of your QA technology should be to uncover patterns and highlight trends, so you can make more educated business decisions based on real-time insight. Before you choose the right QA technology for your call center, read “27 Questions to Ask Before Buying Call Center QA Software.”
3. Digital Scorecards
Digital scorecards are one of the best ways to evaluate your call center agents, customer experience, business processes, and overall contact center performance. They provide you essential feedback that you can’t get any other way so that you can identify trends in the contact center, reveal areas for improvement, discover best practices, and increase customer satisfaction.
The key is to use completely customizable scorecards developed uniquely for your call center. The scorecard should match your business goals, agent strengths and weaknesses, and the elements you find most essential to success—which is why a scorecard template is a bad idea.
Instead your digital scorecards should be developed based on your business priorities and the sector that you work in. Just be sure to at least include four key areas for regular review:
- Agent Soft Skills: including communication ability, professionalism, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and trust.
- Call Center Processes: including how calls are answered and terminated, updating the CRM, and correct compensation.
- Compliance: including identification and validation, handling credit checks, and security for vulnerable customers.
- Outcomes: including how well your agents met stated goals, solved customer problems, followed all processes, and encouraged sales.
4. Analytics and Reporting
Data analytics and reporting is essential for a well-run call center. In fact, 90% of call centers consider customer journey data analytics an important function of the contact center. That’s why one of the most important call center technology trends is analytics and reporting software.
No longer can your contact center just rely on supervisor skills to keep track of how your agents are performing and the customer experience. While manual observation and monitoring have their place, there is far more information that your contact center needs to improve how your call center runs. You need advanced analytics, offered in real-time, so you can quickly and easily make adjustments as needed
Keep reading as we talk more specifically about analytics with trends: 9, 10, and 11.
5. Cloud and Remote-Based Centers
According to the 2020 Global Contact Center Survey, 62% of contact centers plan to implement cloud technology in the next 18 months. And with the coronavirus pandemic, cloud and remote-based contact centers have become the norm.
For businesses, cloud and remote-based call centers are not only more affordable—they cut down on admin costs—but they also offer increased flexibility. Agents can enjoy a better work/life balance with more flexible working hours, and your call center is not limited to a single location. With the cloud, your business can expand across geographical borders and time zones for a larger talent pool without sacrificing customer service.
Mobile functionality is also a key element of this. Agents may not always be at their computers. That’s why it’s just as important to have a mobile app and VoIP that allows your agents to handle calls and other customer communication on their cell phones. Even if you only ever use this as a back-up option, it’s an important feature.
6. AI Integrated Into Daily Tasks
While it’s impossible to replace humans in the contact center, AI and robotic automation are valuable tools to accomplish daily tasks. That’s why over 80% of contact centers consider bots and AI to be important for function.
Artificial intelligence is call center technology that helps you understand the “why and what” of your customers. Why are they contacting you? What do your customers really want? From there, AI handles the easy and straightforward requests without your input. It automates the sharing of pre-recorded messages, call recording, and responding, so your agents can focus on the tasks that matter most.
The key is to use AI to complement your human agents, not replace them. It should be implemented to simplify daily tasks that take up time and energy but don’t require a personal touch. For example, conversational AI chatbots can help you identify customers and their needs for better routing and processing.
7. Security and Data Privacy
For contact centers, few things are more important than security and data privacy. Unfortunately, 70% of call centers view security policy management/enforcement and customer data privacy as two of their top challenges.
The reality is that new vulnerabilities are found in the call center on an almost daily basis. Cloud-based services can be open to hacking, agents can fail on compliance without realizing it, and data breaches can put your center at risk of losing millions of dollars. That’s why customer privacy, data safety, and regulatory compliance are crucial to your organization and they concern everyone.
You need to implement various call center technologies to ensure compliance, security, and data privacy. Tools such as call recording software, QA scorecards, and CRM software can help you dramatically reduce your risk of a breach. It’s all about providing your call center with an audit trail for regulators and your IT department to keep yourself safe.
8. Customer Routing
The right agents need to talk to the right customers at the right time. That’s why customer routing is so essential. Call center technology, such as an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), helps you route incoming calls to agents automatically. You can direct calls based on different policies—round-robin or skills-based. You set the rules and logic behind ACD, and it does the work.
And the same goes for Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which helps your callers direct their calls to the right department. In this case, when a customer contacts you, they hear a pre-recorded message that allows them to press a number for the best option for them, “Press 1 to open an account or Press 2 to speak to customer service.” IVR is a great tool for streamlining the entire customer experience.
When you have software in place to help you automatically route customers to the best individuals to help them, you can respond faster, avoid queuing, minimize wait times, decrease call transfers, and increase first call resolution.
9. Speech Analytics
Speech analytics is a powerful call center tool that combines speech recognition software with pattern spotting and text analysis to better understand customer interactions. It is call center technology that uses a custom set of rules to review and record every customer conversation automatically and translate it into machine-readable text. From there, speech analytics interprets the text to highlight performance issues and the accuracy of every customer interaction.
This call center technology is particularly effective for conducting in-depth searches of conversations to detect trends such as hold times, silent patches, agents talking over customers, and basic emotions. It’s a cost-saving way to map and analyze every customer interaction to help you evaluate, train, coach, and apply root cause analysis.
10. Text Analytics
Over the last few years, text has become an increasingly popular way for customers to contact businesses. Whether it is through social media, live chat, or email, customers want to be able to communicate with your business using the written word. That’s why rendered text analytics are more important than ever.
Text analytics helps you review and monitor all written communication, no matter where it occurs. Not only can you monitor messages sent to customers, but you can also analyze the texts your company receives. This call center technology allows you to turn every written interaction into actionable information for better customer understanding and contact center management.
With text analytics, you can perform real-time analysis of each written interaction to detect issues and provide real-time conversation guidance. You also gain access to a repository of detailed analysis of all text conversations to assess quality and build a program for success.
11. Predictive Analytics
Predictive voice analytics goes beyond words to look at the pitch and tone of your agents during calls. Using this software, you can compare every agent within your call center to the group and develop predictive models to see what makes a successful and unsuccessful customer interaction.
Your call center can leverage predictive analytics technology to complete an in-depth review of past performance to come up with accurate solutions to upcoming problems. For example, you can look at call volume, service level, handle time, and customer satisfaction for last Christmas to better predict how many agents you’ll need on hand this Christmas. The idea is to analyze past results to better plan and strategize for the future.
12. Self-Service Customer Service
Almost 75% of customers think they should have the ability to solve their own product or service issues. And 65% of consumers feel good about themselves when they successfully use self-service customer support. It is essential that your contact center empowers your customers to find the answers and solutions they need without ever having to communicate with your contact center.
You need to create an online knowledge database that includes your most frequently asked questions (FAQs) and basic information for success. It should be accessible at any time and from anywhere so that it can always be a resource and step-by-step guide. Not only will your customers appreciate the ability to find information, but your agents can also use it as a resource during calls, emails, and chat.
13. Advanced Learning & Development with LMS
Call center training software should provide you with the tools you need to effectively manage, track, and achieve your learning goals. You need advanced learning and development technology that offers the ability to develop and manage courses, assign users, and streamline class attendance and deliver so that you can scale your training to meet your needs. That’s why a learning management system (LMS) is so valuable.
A call center LMS is an all-in-one training solution that automates much of the agent training process. You can quickly create and manage courses (using SCORM 1.2 and xAPI files), add LIVE courses, track attendance, assess knowledge (through exams), reward learners, and seamlessly integrate training into your other software systems with the click of a button. The key is to choose the right LMS that:
- Delivers training anywhere and at any time.
- Identifies gaps in training.
- Helps you create, manage, and deliver a call center training program.
- Automates and scales training to meet needs.
- Tracks, documents, and reports on effective call center training.
Scorebuddy’s new LMS offers a centralized, automated training solution. It helps you go far above and beyond traditional call center training to create a more well-rounded learning and development program. You can identify gaps in agent knowledge and then use Scorebuddy’s rich library of curated call center content to educate and certify your team.
The Future of Call Center Technology
The future of call center technology is designed to improve the customer experience, improve productivity, and increase profitability. It’s designed to help your personnel spend less time on mundane administrative tasks and more time doing those things that are most important to success.
From omnichannel support to QA technology, digital scorecards, data analytics and reporting, cloud software, AI, and learning management systems, there are over a dozen ways to improve how your call center runs. The key is to implement the right innovative call center technology for your needs and to always keep your eye on the latest trends.