The mix of technology and customer self-help services has meant that contact centres are evolving into an important strategic resource for many companies.

In 2014 Dr Nicola J. Millard & Dr Tanya Alcock released a whitepaper titled: SuperAgent 2020 – the evolution of the contact centrein which industry leaders answered questions about how they predicted call centres would develop over the next five years.

The answers pointed strongly to contact centres becoming a “relationship hub” where companies can learn about customer demand and control customer experience.

1. Problem solving: As web, social and mobile self-help takes over the simple stuff, the primary function of the contact centre will be to deal with the more complex problems as well as provide the usual reassurances and deal with complaints. Analytics and big data tools mean companies are likely to use contact centres more proactively.

2. Skillsets: As the problems get tougher, so the role of the advisor moves away from FAQs to having more problem-solving skills and more expertise in specific product or service areas. The ability to communicate well will become far more important.

3. How we’re judged: The 2020 contact centre will still be driven primarily by customer satisfaction and getting things right first time but, as technology becomes more important, so does the importance of limiting the amount of effort a customer has to go use to get to their goal.

4. Linking the channels: Although the phone will remain popular, a contact centre is best placed to pull together different channels such as webchat, social media and video. It’s highly likely that customers will learn to switch between these channels depending on where they are, so companies need to be nimble enough to respond.

5. Flexible locations: More and more expert resources are likely to find themselves in “virtualised office hubs” which enables management control but also access to different skills. There will also be a growth in home and mobile advisors although contact centres wills still have to create a mix of fixed, mobile, home and virtual hub centres.

6. New tech: Cloud and big data analytics will of course play a huge role in how your business operates and relates to its contact centre – especially in terms of becoming more proactive. But the key technologies which will drive the contact centre in 2020 are those which enable more intelligent routing of customers to the advisor with the correct skills, and the ability to optimise the many channels customers want to use.

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