2016: The Year of The Customer


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Customer experience is the word on everyone’s lips and the contact centre is about to undergo a dramatic transformation. The Customer is now number one, and the success of a contact centre will be soon defined by its ability to listen to its customers. As the pressure begins to mount on brands to offer customer service that excels, agents need to be on top of their game. For this, they need the most sophisticated technology as well as flexibility – perhaps an entirely new work culture.

Here are our ten predictions for the (not so distant) future of the contact centre:

1. Don’t get left behind – “Channel pivot” is the way forward

No more discussing which channels are the most beneficial. 2016 will be the year that companies finally understand the necessity of combining their contact channels for customers. The leading contact centres will give every channel equal mindshare with the emphasis on customer choice and ultimately satisfaction. Companies who don’t undertake this approach will be left behind. As well as this, every contact centre agent will have a full view of the recent interactions and queries with customers to allow them to suggest a solution using all the mediums available.

2. Heads in the Cloud as standard

Cloud will become the default across contact centres in 2016, no matter what size. Advances in technology and infrastructure will supercharge the recent ‘charge to the cloud’, allowing companies to rent bundles of equipment and software. This will help them to stay competitive at a fraction of the cost. Larger contact centres wouldn’t have trusted or even entertained cloud solutions until recently, but this thankfully is no longer the case. Contact centres are now shifting quickly as those 500+ agent contact centres embrace the ‘contact centre as a service’ model and finally make the switch.

Next year, a rapidly increasing number of contact centres will be discussing or revisiting the benefits of remote agents.. The stereotypical image of a rows and rows of phones in a contact centre is quickly becoming a thing of the past. We are now seeing a new interest and adoption of the more flexible, homeworking model across contact centres of different sizes. More companies will allow agents to work from anywhere and at anytime, giving contact centres the opportunity to flex up or down depending on. Seasonal peaks.

4. The latest technology to stay ahead of the game

Intelligent call routing has been available for a while, but having the latest technology will ensure that customers are connected directly with a technical specialist, able to help them straight away, with no need for further transfers. As CRM and workflow management systems develop, a complex but sophisticated matchmaking process will occur each time a customer calls, to ensure an agent with the right skills is on hand to solve each query. The contact centres that don’t do this are in danger of being left behind and there is a potential lose customers as a result.

5. No more robotics

No one wants to speak to a robot! Luckily, it no longer has to be the case that agents are unable to deviate from a script. In 2016 Contact centres will abandon the old rigid, robotic script and replace it with sophisticated, dynamic scripts. This will result in an interaction that could be mistaken for a relaxed conversation, with smaller prompts, rather than fixed scripts presented to the agent.

6. No more long queues for customers

Innovative software platforms now completely transform the queuing experience for customers, meaning that calling a contact centres should no longer be a frustration. Contact centres can now take advantage of advanced call flows that meet business priorities while providing a more streamlined customer experience. Customers are now able to hold their place in the queue without waiting on the line, thanks to advances in call queue technology. In addition, customers can actually choose a time they’d like to be called back and can also be given ‘VIP status’ priority so they don’t have to wait in a queue at all. This typically results in call queues that are up to 65% shorter.

7. IVR to enable, not frustrate your customers

IVR, or interactive voice response, used to be one of the common annoyances of calling a contact centre. In 2016 however, self-service will begin to come into its own, helping customers find the information they want when they ask for it. This can be shown across functions such as being able to handle simple transactions, taking payments and dealing with simple interactions without ever having to talk to a live agent.

8. The rise and rise of the super agent

In 2016 we will see the rise of the ‘super’ customer service agent, able to converse over several channels. These multichannel communicators will be experts in their field, with the skills, flexibility and ability to deal with the most complex of customer issues. Making sure your agents have these skills will ensure that you can stay on top of your customer satisfaction ratings and avoid losing any customers in 2016.

David Ford
I am an experienced engineer, director and corporate adviser with focus on technology sector. I now work as the Managing Director of Magnetic North. Magnetic North is leading the contact centre in the cloud revolution by providing organisations of every size with a high-availability, secure, enterprise-class solution at a fraction of the cost of the cost of traditional systems, together with transparent pricing, out-of-the-box integration and continuous product innovation.


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