Current Contact Center Trends and the Future of Customer Engagement

November 9, 2021
Discover current contact center trends from industry leaders.

An Interview with NICE CXone CEO Paul Jarman

Keeping up with current contact center trends is a crucial part of being a world-leading customer service provider.

You need to discover the latest technology, innovation, and process improvements to improve your call center and provide your customers with the best possible experience.

And no one knows this better than NICE Cxone CEO, Paul Jarman. After starting his telecommunications business in 1997, he soon realized that innovation is the only way to move forward in this industry.

After decades of experience leading with cloud solutions, analytical software, and workforce engagement solutions, he gave a thought-provoking interview on our podcast, Advice from the Call Center Geek

You can watch the full interview with NICE CXone CEO, Paul Jarman and Expivia CEO, Tom Laird here:

AI in the Contact Center

Artificial intelligence (AI) is more than just a dystopian fever dream. It’s a real-life tool contact centers use every day.

There are a lot of uses of AI in the contact center. Chatbots, self-service, and agent assistance are just the tip of the iceberg.

The latest contact center trend utilizing AI is in forecasting and scheduling. In short, AI can now monitor sentiment and provide real-time insights into customer engagement.

“(…) AI is changing how we think of forecasting and scheduling, and how you do that in a digital world.” – Paul Jarman, CEO of NICE CX

With the help of AI, we can see how customers use a website. Plus, we can analyze the points where we interact with customers. 

“I think AI is having and will have, in its broadest sense, a really massive effect on where the contact centers go. And we’re already seeing it today.”

Real-Time Analytics

Analytics was always a major component in running a contact center. After all, you need to see the number of calls and sales. Additionally, you need to know how long your agents spent converting those leads into customers.

With the help of this data, we’ve created models to help us visualize it and forecast trends. Predicted behaviors equal predicted results. 

However, this data analysis didn’t happen in real-time previously. That has changed with AI: 

“Now, with AI models, we can give them to you now where you can really change your quality monitoring and quality assurance processes. You can really change your coaching process. You can really change your agent assistance processes.”

The best use case is for contact center calls.

AI and real-time analytics can suggest what your agents should say to achieve the best results. As a result, CSAT and NPS can directly improve.

Is call still the most important form of communication in a call center?

Is the Phone Call Still King? (The Rise of the Omnichannel Contact Center)

While talking over the phone is still popular, there’s a definite upward trend towards other means of communication. Texts, online chats, emails, and social media are all on the rise.

Multichannel solutions are the minimum for every contact center. If you want to stay competitive, you need to leverage every communication channel to connect with your customers.

However, the best support is omnichannel. 

Using all aspects of communication at the same time to serve the customer’s best interest. Omnichannel support is a new contact center trend that’s establishing itself as the base level of service.

So, where’s the future of customer engagement in a contact center?

Perhaps it starts even before you talk to a customer.

“We’re seeing more interactions that never even get to the contact center. They can start and stop on a website, or on a mobile device, or on social media. And so there’s a ton of new interactions that almost aren’t given to a traditional channel to an agent.

And so as you look at where we see the future, (…) we make sure that we cover every interaction, regardless of channel, and that we cover that interaction right from the moment of need. Right from the Google search or the website, or the something on your mobile app, or phone. And a lot of interactions can be solved right there.”

Which Social Media Channel Should a Contact Center Focus On?

New social networks are popping up all the time. From Facebook to Tiktok, every country and generation has a different, preferred social media channel. The channel that’s most relevant for your audience is the one you’ll want to focus on.

How can a contact center stay on top of these trends? What tools are best? Does it even matter?

The solution is to create a solid digital framework that integrates into every platform seamlessly. Afterward, you can add new platforms is easy.

Software Innovation Enhances Customer Engagement

It’s no secret that technological advancements make your contact center more efficient and successful. Using the latest software and tools empowers you with more effective customer communication, improves your workflows, and provides the best ROI.

That’s exactly why NICE CXone focuses on innovation that fills the gaps in the contact center industry.

New software lets you predict customer interactions (even in Google search results). Other platforms predict what the customer is looking for on your website while suggesting better ways to engage them.

“What people have done in the past is they put a chatbot on their website, but literally only two or 3% ever touch the chatbot and say, “I want to chat.”

“And because so few people move from a website to a chat, we felt like there was a lot of technology that would help the consumer more on the website with just the right knowledge at the right time to manage that experience. And if they still need more, they can move to a chat.”

“We’re seeing really amazing returns from companies that are getting a wonderful ROI just from making the website so much more personable and smarter through knowledge.”

You can reach customers in various parts of their journey.

Call Center, Contact Center, or Interaction Group?

As these contact center trends evolve, the name “call center” starts to lose its meaning.

While call center implies communication through phone calls, omnichannel support raises the bar on communication. However, if we reach the customer even before they contact us, can we really call ourselves a “contact center”?

In the future, contact centers will become interaction groups.

That means the contact center has the capabilities and power to reach customers and suggest sales without a need for actual interaction. This type of proactive self-service will drive sales and increase ROI.

“We have to recognize that more and more of the interactions are not going to be at the contact center, they’re going to be in a lot of different places. And so, as companies, we have to get really good at interactions in general, and we need to be able to meet the consumer where it starts in a very personalized and smart way. And then we need to take them on that journey, which could be simple, quick information, all the way to complex contact center with agent conversations.”

The Future of Contact Centers

“I think back in the last 10 years, we wouldn’t have thought 20 years ago, you could use your phone and have somebody pull up to pick you up in an Uber in 30 seconds.”

Predicting technological advancements and trends is almost impossible. Yet, when it comes to contact centers, the shift towards a futuristic world is already underway. And the secret to success can be found in managing and perfecting interactions with customers:

“A new interaction could be that your fridge sends you a text when the coolant’s close to being out, and it starts a proactive conversation with you about your fridge. So this is where I think you’ll see that there’s going to be a lot of different types of channels and interactions, and a lot of them will be beyond the traditional contact center.”

To listen to the full interview on Spotify, click here.

To watch the full interview on YouTube, click here.

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Want more call center operations content? Head over to our weekly call center operations podcast "Advice from a Call Center Geek!"

Advice from a Call Center Geek is a weekly podcast with a focus on all things call center and contact center. We discuss topics such as call center operations, hiring, culture, technology, and training and have fun doing it! #callcenter #contactcenter #CX #custserv #callcentergeek

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