When people think of high tech solutions many different industries will leap to mind. Call centers probably aren’t at the top of most people’s lists. But a closer look at call centers will often show them to be among the first to adopt cutting edge technologies. Of course in any industry there’s going to be a select few examples which showcase the best of the best. Six call center technology trends have proven themselves to be of particular merit within the field.
6. Live Chat
In today’s smart phone based world everyone has a phone on their person. It’s fairly rare for people to find themselves totally disconnected from a phone tower. But the ubiquity of phones presents a somewhat ironic situation. Now that everyone has a phone by their side, actual call rates have dropped. Young people raised with smart phones are far more likely to prefer texting.
Call centers are staying ahead of this trend by using live chat. There’s quite a few different implementations of this idea. But one of the most powerful and innovative comes from Vocalcom. The software platform can easily hook into any website. From there users will be able to request text based communication, vocal communication or a full audio/video experience. These options can also be tailored to individual need.
This method gives call centers the ability to connect to people through their preferred method of communication. It can also make it easy for customers to actually show representatives any problems they might be having. This is especially beneficial for call centers which provide tech support.
5. Brand Monitoring
It’s hardly a secret that word of mouth can be an important marketing tool. Most business owners would love to be able to step in and defend their company or products when people have complaints. The ability to turn negative discussions around into positive experiences is the ultimate marketing strategy. It can help retain customers who might otherwise be lost. And when those customers discuss their experiences it’s likely to convince people to give the brand a try. Until recently that type of interaction on a large scale had to remain a dream.
But modern technology has created a whole new method of brand monitoring. Instead of trying to convince customers to contact customer support, the point of contact will be made for them. One of the most powerful examples of this is the LiveAgent software package. It can monitor Twitter for complaints about products or service performance. When detected, it can automatically create a support ticket for call center representatives to act upon.
The social nature of this brand monitoring also offers additional benefits. The fact that it’s so visible can show the world just how important customer satisfaction is to a company. It can quickly leverage customer satisfaction into a marketing solution.
4. Remote Employment for Higher Retention
Call centers can be a stressful environment. It requires focus, speed, conversational skills and usually some level of expertise in a particular service or product. This highly competitive atmosphere has led to exceedingly high levels of employee turnover. The average turnover rate for business as a whole is around 15%. The rate in call centers is somewhere between 30% and 45%. Services offered by a call center can’t change. But one of the most important call center technology trends places the focus on how employees relate to those services.
A recent survey of 200,000 employees shed some light on new methods to increase job satisfaction. The survey found that remote employment was able to provide a wide range of psychological benefits for employees. It’s an important finding for almost any industry. But call centers are particularly well suited to a quick transition to remote work environments.
Call centers already have a heavy focus on telecommunications. A business model based on connecting two points of communication can easily include additional points of access for remote workers. Most companies would need to heavily invest in new technologies in order to make that happen. Call centers can simply leverage their existing resources in new ways in order to do so.
3. Cloud Based Platforms
The cloud has a tendency to show up in almost any discussion of cutting edge technologies. It’s plain to see why that’s the case. The cloud provides companies with the ability to quickly scale both processing power and storage to their needs. It’s a clear benefit to almost any company that uses computers. But call centers are uniquely well suited to cloud based solutions.
Call centers tend to have dramatic spikes in activity. There can be a wide variety of reasons for these spikes. Call centers which offer worldwide support will usually experience more calls as different international time zones match with their services. Holidays also tend to create rapid and quite dramatic spikes in activity.
But whatever the reason, the simple fact of the matter is that increased activity will also place increased strain on resources. A call center’s infrastructure is usually designed around standard daily demands rather than those extreme spikes. But inability to deal with the spikes will often prevent a call center from growing to meet that demand.
The cloud can instantly scale to meet increased need and then shrink back down when things return to normal. It’s a style of performance which is especially well suited to companies which have both extensive work hours and a large geographical area of support to cover.
2. Business Intelligence and Analytics
Anyone who’s worked with online content will have a basic grasp of web analytics. Web analytics are a collection of user statistics related to a particular business or advertising campaign. It’s an easy way for companies to get quick, accurate and up to date information about the general demographics of their customers.
Call centers are taking that general idea and flipping it around. Business intelligence provides a new take on analytics which focuses on the performance of one’s own company. A particularly innovative and popular example can be found with TCN Business Intelligence. The software package collects most points of data related to overall business performance.
But data alone isn’t very useful. The reason it’s one of the most important call center technology trends involves data presentation. TCN Business Intelligence and similar programs can take all of that data and lay it out in an intuitive and easy to understand format. One can quickly narrow down performance by criteria such as individual agent, time of day, geographical area and even user defined metrics. This makes it easy to survey performance and tailor strategy to meet need.
1. Self-service Channels
Self-service channels are one of the most exciting call center technology trends for a number of different reasons. The most significant of these reasons comes from examining what the term means. Self-service channels are a way for people to benefit from services offered by a call center without actually needing to talk to a person within it.
It’s both a single entity, and a collection of related call center technology trends. The name describes a singular goal which technology is pushing toward. But the actual implementation of that goal will usually come about through multiple systems.
One of the most common self-service solutions is an FAQ. It’s a simple idea, but it continues to be one of the most successful at reducing overall call load. Modern technologies can build even further upon that idea. IVR, interactive voice response, is an automated system which can respond to simple words and phrases. Some call centers use IVR to walk through simple flowsheets that essentially turn an FAQ into detailed phone based instructions.
As new methods of automated interaction are developed the self-service channels will become ever more important to call centers. It’s easy to see that they’re on the verge of becoming an essential new tier of support that can work alongside human agents.
These call center technology trends paint an impressive picture of the future. All of the examples discussed here are currently in use among some of the most high performing call centers in the world. But it’s important to remember that they’re not just important call center technology trends because of what they deliver today. All of the examples are continually growing and expanding in new directions. It’s clear that the success of a call center is heavily linked to technological innovations.