It’s almost the end of the year, which means that the new year is coming down on us pretty soon.
While it is difficult to predict anything for the future accurately, especially in the market that fluctuates so much and is dependent on latest trends, there are some signs that have piqued the interest of the experts.
With this interest in mind they have decoded a series of trends that is going to rise in the coming year where call centers or contact centers are concerned.
This is something to pay attention too, as call centers are proving to be a powerful instrument for the transformation of a brand’s image, whether it be for the good or the bad.
Customers expect support shown towards them whenever they need it, in a way that is most comfortable to them.
Therefore, it is imperative that the call center businesses keep improving year by year.
Technology changes in a quick way.
It keeps evolving and changing into different forms, and companies using these technologies should also be striving to change constantly.
Customers too, are changing day by day in their habits of using the newer forms of technologies.
Instead of traditional phone calls, users are more inclined to contact the company using emails, or to go more public, social media.
At the end, the call centers are here to establish a channel of communication between the company and the customers.
They are here to solve the problems and answer the queries, and provide assistance.
Low level customer representatives are now high level innovative agents who determine each day how to approach the customers and turn them into loyalists of the company.
With so much pressure on the call centers, it is important to keep track of the progress that all the companies are making in order to develop accordingly and keep improving as time passes.
Keeping track of these changes are by no means easy as there are many changes to be noticed, but knowing about the most interesting and by default the most important trends to follow this year.
The trends that must be kept in mind for the upcoming year are:
1. Omni-channel communications are here to reign
Undoubtedly, one of the most important features that all companies should be able to keep up with is the omni channel feature, which saw a rise this year with multiple companies giving their customers the option of multiple channels and even cross channels for interacting with the companies.
This rise will turn into a trend come 2018, with nearly seventy percent of the call center companies adopting this trend. This is a massive jump from just thirty-six percent this year.
This is a result of customer expectations rising to a high level this year.
Research has shown that customers who have the omni channel option have a ninety percent chance of staying loyal to a company.
Omni channels will enable seamless communication, one that is all round the call, regardless of the day of the year, which is something that customers desire.
2. The rise of the artificial intelligence
For years, we have seen many discussions revolving around the term AI, which stands for artificial intelligence.
The thought that some coded entity can take over difficult tasks thus negating the usefulness of humans is a controversial one, but with the advent in the field there is no denying that artificial intelligence will be a prominent choice in the call center business when it comes to handling communications and providing instant solution to agents who need certain information.
The standard request time for customer with simpler questions can be drastically reduced in a small time span by the artificial intelligence, therefore eliminating the need for agents to dedicate their capabilities in handling such questions.
They can then concentrate on handling tougher questions that cannot be solved by the AI.
3. Chatbots are big game changers this coming year
Chatbots have become some sort of legend in this field.
They are now a daily occurrence, even in the lives of common customers.
It is impossible to disregard their presence in the field of call center business.
Chat bots, not unlike AIs, will become faster, better, with curated responses, emotional capabilities.
They can assist in customer journey and seamlessly track customer orders.
Implementing chatbots is definitely a smarter move, as it cuts down time and resources drastically.
Upkeep, however, might be a problem as these technologies are still relatively new.
4. SMS is going to make a comeback, but in a different form
Customers will be responsive to private texts sent to their phones which is becoming the most successful communication device till date.
Messages are a quick and easy way to relay information and doesn’t require tons of bandwidth.
These will generally be used whenever there is a requirement for highly urgent texts, but not used when the complexity of the problem is greater.
5. Application for mobiles will be the number one way to shop
Applications, or apps as we call them, are processes directly inside a phone that a customer can use to shop or browse through items.
This is mainly because the number of smartphones has risen sharply.
As they come with the accessibility to information, companies must keep up with this trend and introduce stable mobile apps for their customers so that they can access information about the company whenever they want to.
In order to stay ahead in this game of marketing, companies will need to come up with suitable digital strategies to attract more and more customers.
6. There will a new growth in the field of data analytics
Data analytics have always been around.
However, in 2018, there will be a new level of analytics that must be kept in mind, and it will develop into the one of the year’s biggest trends.
Data analytics tools with advanced systems and better facilities, along with a lower cost rate will be extremely helpful for businesses to gain that special winning edge over their competitors.
Data analytics tool can do much of the heavy lifting for the companies, such as predictions based on the current want of the market, recommendations of change and providing better context and backgrounds for those context, things which are very important for the businesses.
Data analytics can provide extremely good information by researching on customer preferences, and customer service.
7. Video calling and videos in general will be a bigger trend in 2018
Platforms such as YouTube have already set ways in how videos can be used to sell a brand.
More importantly, a smaller entrepreneur can directly reach their customers with the help of a video.
Videos in general can be a powerful tool of advertisement as customers generally love visualizing what the products they are buying can do in real life.
Features such as video calling can help the customer have a direct connection with the company representative, and make them feel important within the company spectrum.
8. Cloud based call centers will continue to rise
As more and more information is available in today’s world owing to more and more customers accumulated, space is a valuable resource.
What’s better than to use a system that can store all this valuable information on ‘cloud’ or intangible element, to be used whenever the need arises?
Cloud based information storage will be ever so popular, because the number of consumers will not lessen anytime soon.
Cloud based services are also one of the safest methods available as security will be a main concern the next year.
It will provide a reliability that can immensely help in maintaining the credibility of a company.
9. Social Media marketing will be required this year
Social media is a powerful factor that few companies from this background venture into.
Social media can be a great advertising and marketing tool, as well as it provides a safe ground for all sorts of conversation where customers can participate, give feedback, praise or criticize.
Customers crave for familiarity and social media offerings.
As a trend, once can expect a huge growth of social media support teams, working all day long and being available at any hour of the day.
This will also provide a great way to extend the company overseas, as with social media globalization will reach its peak.
The Case Study
Now that we have taken a look at the top trends that are surely to see a new light in the year 2018, let us concentrate on a case study to understand how these trends will benefit the market in the coming year, because some parts of the trends have already begun to manifest itself.
The company whose case study we are about to look at is named PTS Call Center, named so to maintain its anonymous status.
Here, we will be discussing the problem scenario of the company and the challenges that the company faced due to the problem scenario in itself.
We will also be talking about the solutions that the company managed to come up with after using the best call center software and the conclusions that were derived from it.
The Problem Scenario
PTS Call Center is a high profile call center providing solutions to the customers.
However, this past year they noticed that their revenue was not what they had expected it to be.
In fact, they had not even attracted a large number of customers.
Of course, they wanted to change the situation, and therefore went to the drawing board to distinguish their core weaknesses with the help of a call center software.
The major challenges that the company decided to overcome were the following:
1. Decreased presence in social media.
The company noticed that there were very few activities of the company in the social media.
This meant that there was no proper exposure of the company with the help of one of the most powerful tools available to them.
2. Even though they were using the best call center software solutions, they were not utilizing their chat bots to help them figure out a lot of basic questions that customers may or may not have come across.
This was serious flaw and resulted in underwhelming performance.
3. They lacked a good, intuitive AI.
This had to be upgraded because it is not possible for the AI to do certain tasks to keep up with the modern scenario and keep up with the customers as well.
The solutions that the company came up with to overcome the list of concerning challenges is in accordance to the new trends that is slowly emerging.
These solutions are:
1. Upgrade their call center solutions to include the social media tools.
These tools helped them keep a track of what was being said and thought of about their companies.
It also helped the agents contact the customers directly and be more active in the well-being of their company.
2. Chat bots were also included in the upgrade.
These chat box could devise simple answers to the basic questions of the customer and track their orders and interests in order to develop better products.
3. Lastly, AI was improved vastly.
It no longer sounded like a machine, but like a thinking, feeling organization that guided the customer and helped with their needs as directed by the agents.
While the company chose to implement these new trends, they noticed a shift in their customer landscape for the better.
They attracted newer customers and were actively participating in marketing their newer products.
With minor tweaking of their systems and upgrading their dated program software, there is a new hope of better revenue and better customer retention in the coming year for the company.
The next twelve months, starting from January 2018, will be busy, action packed and full of twists and turns.
There will be minor changes that will make huge impacts and it is expected that customer service will be better and bigger than ever.