Top 10 Customer Service Technology Trends

Sabio’s ‘Top 10 key technology trends’ is based on in-depth engagements with some of the world’s leading customer service organizations.

Mobile technologySabio, the specialist contact center and unified communications systems integrator, has highlighted what it believes will be the Top 10 key technology trends that are set to shape the customer service landscape.

Sabio has identified placing contact centers at the heart of an organization’s social networking strategy; optimising websites for smartphone access; and supporting multi-channel customer engagement through consistent interactions as three of the most important issues currently facing customer service directors.

According to Stuart Dorman, Head of Sabio’s Consulting Practice:

“Heightened financial and competitive pressures have meant that this year has again proved to be a challenging year for customer service organizations – and at the moment next year looks as though it will be similar. Because of this it is imperative that customer service directors maintain a dual focus: actively addressing exciting challenges such as increased volumes of social networking interactions and enormous growth in website access via smartphones, while still continuing to focus on optimising their operational contact center performance to deliver better service with constrained budgets.

“Organizations also need to think more in terms of a phased approach to their contact center technology deployments, staging their projects and investments so that the benefits from initial projects such as Workforce Management, technology platform refreshes or Unified Communications roll-outs can be realised,” continued Stuart. “This way, organizations can adopt a ‘self-funding’ discipline to subsequent projects, unlocking new budget from previous operational project savings, and creating a compelling business case for further initiatives such as Voice of the Customer, Video and Virtual Assistant initiatives.”

Sabio’s ‘Top 10 Key Technology Trends’:

1. Place your contact center at the heart of your corporate social networking

The time for ‘dipping your toe’ in social media has now passed: instead you should be monitoring relevant social media channels, leveraging them as powerful self-service knowledge bases, and moving towards being able to engage customers in real time on key networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Inevitably this will demand equipping agents with the tools and skills necessary to take their customer service skills into the social networking space.

2. Your website needs to be optimised for mobile/smartphone access

Increased smartphone popularity is making the mobile the key customer service channel for many customers – 46 percent of UK smartphone customers used their device to access the Internet over the last three months. Organizations need to make sure that their web presence is fully optimised for mobile access.

3. Consistent customer interactions across multiple channels

Customers are increasingly driving the shift towards channels such as social and mobile, are happy to use smart self-service solutions, and are actively engaging in activities such as streaming video to their mobiles. Against this background, it’s even more imperative for organizations to re-invent their traditional voice contact centers as fully optimised multi-channel environments. Consumers will expect their interactions to be handled consistently regardless of the channel they’re using, whether it’s mobile, a social interaction, traditional voice, webchat, e-mail or other emerging channels.

4. Have you got an App?

Customers are now familiar with using apps as a service channel, with major brands particularly deploying ‘brand-in-the-hand’ apps that encourage customer stickiness and give their customers a pre-configured channel for their mobile interactions and account management. These dedicated apps are increasingly giving customers a fast-track route into customer service centers, bypassing lengthy IVR processes and offering rapid escalation to webchat and voice interactions.

5. Tracking key service metrics through customer feedback

Sabio Consultants believe it’s the organizations that are really listening to what their customers are saying that are driving today’s customer service agenda. This year looks set to be the year when major organizations really start to embrace the link between offering a high quality customer experience, loyalty and longer-term financial success. By gathering customer insight using the latest real time customer feedback applications, organizations can instantly measure metrics such as Net Promoter Scores, agent performance and Customer Effort Scores to measure how easy they are to do business with. Tying this into your quality and performance management process gives you the opportunity to react to feedback, train staff to replicate the behaviours that customers like the most, and fix those processes that are causing frustration.

6. Capturing the true Voice of the Customer

Only true speech analytics technologies that really let you capture the content of every single call and interaction that’s coming into your contact center. We believe that speech analytics technology has now reached a level of maturity and affordability where you can quickly determine exactly why customers are calling, examine you’re getting sudden spikes in call volumes, and also highlight those calls that really shouldn’t be happening in the first place. Now is the time to find out what your customers are actually calling you about!

7. Helping your agents to make more of a difference

Sabio expects more contact centers to benefit from the latest generation of intelligent agent desktop solutions. Too many agents are still being burdened with unintuitive workspaces and over complex processes – often requiring the use of multiple systems and applications. Deploying multi-channel agent desktops empowers agents, helps to deliver a noticeably better quality of service to customers, and – done correctly – can also unlock significant operational savings that can be translated into further ‘self-funding’ projects.

8. Video to become a mainstream customer service channel

Sabio expects more organizations to be putting video to work for customer service support in the future. The massive popularity of online video sites such as YouTube, is driving the use of video content to support customer service operations – either through dedicated ‘how to’ videos that extend the power of self-service channels, the integration of QR codes into websites, or through direct agent-to-customer video interactions to help streamline problem resolution.

9. Applying Cloud technology where it can deliver the best value

Cloud computing can play a key role in helping contact centers to operate more efficiently, and can help organizations in striking the right balance between traditional on premise resilience and the flexibility offered by the latest virtualisation and cloud-enabled technologies. This year will see an increased emphasis on organizations identifying which customer service solutions can benefit most from being implemented as cloud services, and which still require the resilience and security of on premise deployment.

10. Delivering real added value through Virtual Assistants

Next year Sabio’s Consultants also expect to see the gap between the web and the contact center get closer through the use of innovative technologies such as Virtual Assistants. These avatar-style animated digital characters support customer service operations by interacting with web visitors, helping customers to navigate their way through interactions, and share relevant information. The latest Virtual Assistant technologies have evolved considerably, benefitting from advanced text recognition and speech generation technologies.

About the Author

Sabio is a specialist contact center and unified communications systems integrator focused on delivering exceptional customer contact strategies and solutions based on best-of-breed technologies from leading organizations. Sabio offers business consulting, systems integration and managed services and has worked with many major origanizations across the UK.

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