Have the 2015 Contact Center Predictions Come True?
At the end of each year, a variety of writers and analysts make their predictions about how the upcoming new year will shake out for the industry. Predicting business trends is a little like predicting the weather: while you have clues how things will turn out, it’s not an exact science, and the wind frequently blows in a different direction.
In a recent blog post, Monet Software CEO Chuck Ciarlo revisited some year-end prediction blogs to see how those predictions were holding up. As could be expected, some forecasts were accurate, while others were less so. In the latter category, the common prediction of hybrid cloud solutions has turned out to be largely unfounded, he says.
“It was anticipated that 2015 would see more contact centers with a hybrid environment, where some solutions were accessed from the cloud and others were installed on-site,” wrote Ciarlo. “While such businesses exist, the more prominent trend has been turning everything over to the cloud, because of the flexibility and cost-savings possible.”
While many experts believed that contact centers would want to “get their feet wet” by moving to the cloud in a step-by-step way, some probably failed to take into account how much the costs savings of a pure cloud solution would induce businesses to take a giant leap.
Another area that has been consistently missed is the prediction of a wide deployment of virtual agents, or artificial-intelligence driven text or voice-driven customer guides (think Siri) for contact center self-help.
“Would 2015 be the year of the virtual agent? Final stats aren’t in but thus far we are not seeing any indication of a significant increase in telecommuting, though this is a movement that has seen steady growth over the past decade,’ wrote Ciarlo. “Cloud-based workforce management that allows agents to access the technology they need from any location will, if anything, expedite this trend.”
So where did analysts get it right in their predictions? Mostly where it came to the use of big data analytics to drive efficiencies and improve processes, as well as in the switch from multichannel environments to complete “omnichannel” customer support.
“Companies can no longer be content with traditional call center functionality,” wrote Ciarlo. “Customers now expect to reach out via other channels and receive the same quality response. For contact centers this means not just having qualified personnel in the right positions, but the ability to capture data across the channel spectrum that will help deliver better service in the future.”
So perhaps next year will be the year for more virtual assistants? Perhaps. Companies are finding, as they become more responsive to customer needs, that customers want to be able to find answers for themselves. By deploying better, smarter and more mobile assistance – perhaps in the form of virtual assistants – customers may just get what they wish for.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi