Looking Ahead: Five Contact Center Trends to Know and Use in 2019 (Part 1)

By Michelle Burrows | December 18, 2018
Five Contact Center Trends to Know and Use in 2019

Trendspotting. In the domain of customer experience, it’s a buzzy word for staying on top of emerging insights, then connecting them to initiatives that drive innovation and success. The trick is finding the time to identify and make sense of the trends that matter so you can make those connections.

To help you, we’ve collected and analyzed data from sources including hundreds of our contact center customers and published our findings in Contact Center Trends You Need to Know 2019. This e-book will help you look toward the future with an understanding of the trends that will most impact your contact center and offer tips to harness them to your benefit.

In a series of five blog posts, I’ll break down the five trends we’ve highlighted in the e-book and share thoughts on the opportunities they present for contact centers in 2019 and beyond.

Let’s start with: Making It Easier to Do Business.

We identified the first noteworthy trend as the move toward enabling easier and smoother customer interactions. The reason successful brands are so sharply focused on this is because, according to the 2017 Contact Center Satisfaction Index report, 41 percent of people share their customer experiences—the good and bad. Further compelling is the fact that, according to Zendesk research, 66 percent of B2B and 52 percent of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction.

This may be as much a perennial warning as it is a trend, but the message is clear: Organizations must make it easy for customers to do business with them—across every interaction—if they want to keep them.

Your customers are reaching out to you with problems they want resolved, and they want resolution to come quickly and painlessly. When you fall short of expectations, there are real consequences because in today’s always-on, multi-channel world, news of bad customer experiences travels fast.

The good news—and the opportunity for your contact center— is when you get it right and meet expectations through seamless interactions, the benefits have real effects, including increased revenue generated from loyal, satisfied customers.

Here’s how to start down the right path toward easier customer interactions:

You Can’t Improve without First Understanding the Pain

While customers don’t expect agents to know why they’re calling, they don’t want to provide the same information repeatedly. They expect you to gather the information they’ve provided and use it for smarter interactions.

That can start with the agent welcoming the customer back by name or—with the right technology— knowing the customer has called several times in two days, prioritizing the call and forwarding it to the agent most skilled to handle the problem.

Customers are also increasingly expressing frustration with interactive voice response (IVR).  While IVR is a critical part of contact center cost efficiency, customers don’t want to spend 10 minutes talking to it, then start from scratch once transferred to a live agent.

One creative approach to this pain point is leveraging visual IVR on customers’ smart phones.  You can empower mobile users—which likely includes most of your customers—to quickly and easily navigate through your contact center menu visually before connecting with the live agent.  In this case, you’ve met your customers on their turf, which is important.

In all cases, the quickest route to easier customer interactions is to fully understand the customer experience so you can improve it. Start by mapping all customer touchpoints and entry points.  Then, step back and determine how to alleviate each pain point until you’re exceeding expectations.

In my next post, I’ll address the trend of self-service, and what it can—and can’t—do to improve the customer experience, build loyalty and drive long-term satisfaction.

To download the complete e-book, Contact Center Trends You Need to Know 2019, click here.  Ready to Improve Your Customer Experience Now? Request a demo.

Michelle Burrows is Chief Marketing Officer at Serenova, where she leads the company’s global marketing strategy, brand development, communications and demand generation.  Prior to joining Serenova, Michelle was Vice President of Marketing and Analytics at Comcast Business, leading the customer loyalty contact center.  Prior to Comcast, she served as Vice President of Demand Marketing for inContact (NICE inContact) and held key leadership positions at Rally Software (CA Technologies), Verint Systems and Genesys Conferencing (West Corporation).