Technology

2022 contact centre technology trends

By Mike BanbrookJune 30, 2022

The customer experience drives buying decisions for as many as three-quarters (74%) of Australians with speed, convenience, and friendly helpful staff being the most important factors for 70% of consumers. In fact, while nearly two-thirds of customers (65%) say they find a positive customer experience to be more influential than persuasive advertising, there is a high cost to businesses for getting the customer experience wrong – one-in-three (32%) consumers say they are prepared to walk away from a brand after just one bad experience.

The research shows modern consumers are harsh critics, but with customer experience now closely linked to business growth and success, there are huge rewards for organisations that nail the customer experience. Over half (54%) of customer service and support leaders in 2022 say growing the business is their top priority this year. Needless to say, there are several contact centre trends shaping the best customer experiences in 2022.

Artificial intelligence is now the only way forward

For years, consumers have put up with the frustrations of contact centres that offer limited menu options when calling. Being greeted with a generic menu and (possibly) getting through to the wrong agent or department was just part of the norm and accepted as one of the unavoidable limitations of contact centre technology. But today, consumers are increasingly aware that there are better experiences on offer, thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into contact centre technologies. In fact, around 91% of top-performing organisations surveyed by NewVantage have ongoing investments in artificial intelligence.

Cloud-based intelligent call routing solutions like Oration by Convai use AI-powered speech recognition and language interpreter technology to direct calls to the most appropriate agent without the caller having to navigate a menu hierarchy, or re-explain their query to the agent when they get through. It works by inviting the caller to articulate their reason for calling in their own way, so the software can determine the caller's intent and automatically route the call to one of a potentially limitless number of outcomes.

Artificial intelligence is also being used for sentiment analysis in the contact centre. Sentiment analysis technology uses AI to analyse conversations between customers and agents to determine the emotions and feelings of callers while they are on the phone. For example, sentiment analysis can flag conversations in real-time as positive, negative, or neutral, enabling contact centre managers to offer agents support or address issues with customer service techniques and training.

Self-service tools are giving customers more of what they want

Allowing customers to perform tasks to gather information independently, without the need for an agent, is a huge benefit to your contact centre operationally. With more customers finding the resolution they need entirely within the IVR, contact centres are handling higher call volumes with less resources while lowering the costs of operating. But when it comes to contact centre technology trends, self-service solutions really are a win-win, especially from a customer-business relationship standpoint, with 73% of customers wanting the ability to solve product or service issues on their own.

Self-service options can include anything from checking account balances and making payments or bookings to accessing important information via pre-recorded targeted banners or links sent to email or SMS. Not only are these self-service methods giving customers the opportunity to do more tasks at any time of the day or night, without relying on contact centre operating hours, they’re also offering fast access to the support they need without waiting on hold and giving the sense of convenience, control and independence consumers crave.

Measuring customer satisfaction is critical

What better way is there to find out whether you're really hitting the mark with your customer experience than hearing what your customers have to say? With 89% of customers switching to a different business or competitor as a result of poor customer experience, it’s no wonder measuring customer satisfaction is one of the top contact centre trends driven by the rapidly increasing appetite among businesses for delivering the best and most competitive customer experiences.

Two of the most common techniques for measuring customer satisfaction include the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey. Surveys are typically presented to customers post-call or following a live chat experience and are carried out automatically over the phone using speech recognition or sent via email or SMS, so the customer can complete the survey in their own time.

Importantly, NPS and CSAT scores are not the same. An NPS survey will ask a customer to give a customer satisfaction rating on a scale of 0 - 10, where 10 means they are most likely to recommend to others and 0 is not at all likely. NPS technology will then calculate your contact centre’s overall NPS score by subtracting the percentage of detractors (which is anyone giving a rating of between 0 - 6) from the percentage of promoters (which is anyone who gives a score of 9 or 10).

CSAT survey technology on the other hand gathers more direct insights by asking customers to rate their experience on a scale of 1 - 5 where five means “very satisfied”. The overall CSAT score is worked out by calculating the percentage of customers who score their experience 4 or 5.

Measuring customer satisfaction is not only a top contact centre trend to watch out for this year, but it's also becoming increasingly recognised as an important part of a long-term strategy to keep track of performance and how it changes over time. By adding open questions to discover the reason for the rating allows a deeper analysis of issues and trends. This used to require human resources to transcribe these valuable utterances - now with AI speech recognition we can automatically transcribe the utterances making them available realtime and at a much reduced cost to the business. With these insights, contact centres are quickly responding to and addressing issues while doing more of the things that work best.

Responsive training techniques are boosting performance

Well trained agents will do two things for your contact centre; they'll help improve your average handling times by efficiently resolving queries, and they'll help to deliver a great overall customer experience which might improve your customer satisfaction ratings.

But training agents to the required standard has traditionally been challenging. While it can be hard to give select agents enough exposure to specific call types to improve their skills, there is always the risk of causing frustration for customers dealing with agents who don't have the required experience to handle the query.

Call routing solutions like Oration by Convai are helping to solve this problem by giving contact centre managers complete control over how different call types are distributed across the team. Using an intuitive call management dashboard, contact centre managers can ensure specific call types are always delivered to the select agents to help improve their skills faster.

These solutions are also providing an opportunity to build subject matter experts by ensuring they always receive specific queries, while enabling new staff members to take control of the phones faster by routing only the least complex queries or queries that they are already trained for.

Omnichannel integration is expected by customers

Contact centres are quickly catching up with the fact that, in 2022, customers are choosing to interact with brands in a variety of ways – and it usually depends on what’s most convenient at any given time. For example, aside from using the phone, they may ask questions or seek help via live chat through a company website, by using SMS, or even by engaging with a brand through social media channels.

However customers choose to engage, it's important for contact centres to always maintain a holistic view of their customer profiles to understand their needs faster and deliver a more seamless customer experience. Integrating your customer touchpoints means agents have complete visibility over all their customers past communications and transactions, irrespective of where they have taken place.

Analytics is driving better decisions

In 2022, it's all about the data. After all, it’s there for the taking. High volumes of data around multiple aspects of the contact centre operation are being gathered and used to generate valuable insights capable of improving agent performance, optimising the workforce, and driving customer retention.

With the right technology that incorporates analytics and intuitive reporting dashboards, contact centre managers are gaining a clearer picture of key metrics such as average handling times, the time taken to complete after call work, customer satisfaction levels across different customer segments, products, and services, and even the sentiment of callers while on the phone. With all this information reported to contact centres in real-time as well as historically, contact centre managers can take a more proactive approach to managing the customer experience over time.

Some of the most common types of data-driven decisions and actions might include identifying additional training needs where there are performance issues among agents, adjusting call flows and spotting new opportunities for targeted banners (deflection techniques), and helping the business to address issues with products and services that might lead to more satisfied customers.

Conclusion

With consumer confidence set to strengthen this year, there will be huge growth opportunities for organisations looking to rebound and recover after an unpredictable time. But it will also become an incredibly competitive environment where the customer experience will be a key battleground. Staying on top of the latest contact centre trends in 2022 will be critical to driving the success of organisations that must differentiate themselves in a market of increasingly discerning customers.

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