The Cloud Contact Center of Tomorrow: Largely Customer Driven
September 22, 2015
It may sound almost like sarcasm to say that the future of customer service will largely be in the hands of the customer, but a new report from Forrester (News - Alert) summed it up with just one line from the larger report: “In the age of the customer, executives don't decide how customer-centric their companies are – customers do.” That line is actually going to color the future of the cloud-based contact center and customer service itself in 2016 and beyond.
Essentially, the Forrester report backed up its assertion by pointing to three new major points that it's started to see in 2015 and will likely carry on into 2016. First, customers are likely to start following into newly-available channels as a means of reducing “friction,” making the interaction between customer and organization as painless as possible. Recently, Web-based self-service options actually proved the most widely-used channel in terms of customer service, surpassing even the long-favored voice channel. Customers appear to prefer Web chat thanks to its readily available nature, its degree of personalization, and its excellent capability to speed up contact and make agents more efficient.
That segues into the second point, as the improved agent experience will be much, much more important. Customer service agents may have to use several different applications over the course of a day, from Web chat to phone to social media and beyond, and that can be a problem. Having to rapidly switch from one interface to another all day can be tiring, and trying to train new reps on all these tools can be just as cumbersome. Streamlining this approach, meanwhile, will pay dividends in faster response time, less fatigued agents, and more rapid on-boarding policies for new reps.
Finally, customer service organizations in general will chime in, taking on a whole new approach in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) solutions. Reports suggest 15 percent of decision makers in this field have already or plan to bring in new SaaS solutions to replace current ones, and another 24 percent use SaaS solutions alongside current solutions. This offers a new level of agility, allowing for faster solutions, and can help in terms of streamlining the agent's operations as noted previously.
It's a safe bet that Forrester's got the right of it here; after all, there's nothing it's suggested so far that hasn't either already been seen or just makes too much sense to not see in some form. Giving service reps easier to use tools makes such reps faster and allows for more to be done in the same amount of time, which means fewer reps need to be hired to handle the workload and money is in turn saved. That means better tools need to be in place—usually the kind that can be provided on an as-a-service basis, though not always—to provide the kind of service that customers want, across an increasing number of channels.
Forrester's study may not come as news to many out there, but seeing it all together in one place will certainly help fuel some decision making. Given the number of cloud contact centers already making moves accordingly, though, there may not be too many left who need convincing.
Edited by Maurice Nagle
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