Contact centre trends for 2021: Our Predictions
This time last year, we made a few predictions about contact centre trends for 2020.
Well, nobody forecast quite what a year we would have! But surprisingly, many of our predictions have turned out to be spot on.
Contact centres have become more vital than ever, with the pandemic prompting many organisations to accelerate their digitalisation plans.
And their importance looks set to rise further in 2021: 84% of companies report that when they improve customer experience, they see an increase in revenue.
So what does 2021 have in store for contact centre services?
Our 2020 predictions revisited:
1. The importance of human interaction.
This became more valid than ever. As we all retreated into our homes, many already vulnerable people were left isolated. Helplines run on behalf of charities such as Mind or local councils became lifelines.
2. AI continues to rise.
The pandemic placed contact centres under huge strain. Artificial Intelligence-driven chatbots provided answers to routine queries, while AI-driven Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems routed callers efficiently. Both systems freed up human advisors to handle trickier questions.
3. Omnichannel as the norm.
As advisors had to switch overnight to home working, it was essential that all channels were integrated behind the scenes so that customers experienced a seamless service. Some 75% of customers now expect this, and 73% are likely to switch brands if they don’t get it.
Those channels can now include messaging apps: lockdown has led to an explosion in usage, with more than two billion WhatsApp users worldwide.
4. Around the clock service.
Customers increasingly expect services to be available at all times. At Connect Assist, we provide overflow out-of-hours contact centre services for many organisations, responding to queries at nights, weekends, or times of peak demand.
Our new predictions for 2021:
1. Remote working/cloud-based contact centres/contact centres as a service.
The organisations that provided the most seamless customer service during lockdown were those that were able to switch swiftly to remote working, storing information safely in the cloud and working across teams on collaboration platforms. In 2021, there’s no going back!
One key concern is data security: this should continue to be high up every company’s agenda. By outsourcing contact centre services, organisations can be sure of the very latest, most secure software and protocols.
2. Video links and counselling.
This was the year that we all accepted video calling as a necessity: daily use of Zoom, for example, rose 20-fold in the first three months of lockdown.
While we very much hope to be less isolated in 2021, video is here to stay. Increasingly, it’s becoming a prime channel for customers to contact service providers and brands, improving accessibility for those who prefer some form of face-to-face contact.
In 2020, video counselling and befriending services really took off too, and could well become widespread in the coming years.
Many customers are keen to get information and answers with minimal hassle – and organisations are equally keen to deflect the volume of calls their advisors must handle.User-friendly customer portals that connect to detailed knowledge bases are becoming essential. They use analytics and machine learning to tailor answers to what customers are actually searching for. If customers need further guidance, they can chat with an Oracle Digital Assistant – again, driven by AI to answer queries in natural language.
4. Multimedia sharing.
Sometimes, a picture tells a thousand words. Where customers struggle to explain an issue, it could become standard to send a picture such as a screenshot. However, employers will need to safeguard their advisors in case of misuse.
The years ahead will be exciting ones for contact centres. People are placing an increasingly high value on customer experience, with 96% now saying that it’s important for their brand loyalty.
Do you agree with our predictions for contact centre trends for 2021?
Contact centre innovation is a key concern, but it’s hard for organisations to stay ahead of the game. For Connect Assist, however, customer service is our core purpose. So, get in contact today to discuss outsourcing your call centre services to us, and have a relaxed and fulfilling 2021!