2016, a year that garnered endless negative press, brought significant economic and political upheaval, both in South Africa and internationally. And while these challenges put the local market under severe pressure, with many businesses being forced to downsize, the contact centre industry has continued to thrive.
According to Jed Hewson and Bruce von Maltitz, Co-founders and joint CEOs of 1Stream, this success has largely been achieved through harnessing the potential of technology in contact centres.
The year in review
“We’ve seen a marked shift in mindset from businesses when it comes to cloud solutions,” says Hewson, “Increasingly, the conversation revolves around when and how to implement a cloud solution rather than if it should be done.”
The benefits of cloud computing, paired with outsourced managed services are now clearly understood, while the drive for true omni-channel implementation in contact centres has continued to gain traction.
While some technology, such as Visual Interactive Voice Response (Visual IVR), WebRTC and HTML5 have struggled to get off the ground due to technical infrastructure limitations, the potential of this technology remains, and contact centre operations have been vastly enhanced through data analytics.
“There are more positive shifts ahead for those keeping an eye on contact centre trends and those willing to embrace the benefits that technology has to offer,” adds Hewson.
What to expect in 2017
Much has been made of the millennial generation and the impact it is having on the way in which businesses interact with their customers, and in the contact centre arena, this is particularly evident. It is no surprise then that omni-channel communication and automation are set to increase and improve in the coming year.
“Customers want to be able to communicate with a business in the same ways that they are used to communicating in social context,” explains von Maltitz, “and that means the effective inclusion of channels such as social media, email and chat in a contact centre environment.”
In much the same way, customer experience management will continue to have a significant impact on decisions taken within a contact centre, driving the importance of data analysis and data visualisation to ensure this information is understood easily and changes implemented as a result.
Workforce management and e-learning will naturally begin to find a more solid place in the contact centre environment, allowing businesses to manage teams more effectively while also improving the overall customer experience with a more productive and proficient team.
Tying this all together are the capabilities of a cloud environment and the possibilities this brings. With the benefits of cloud services already having been proven – cost efficiency, improved management, expert service through professionals, no need for in-house experts – the uptake of this technology has already been significant, and is poised for even greater adoption throughout the contact centre industry.
Von Maltitz adds: “Those looking ahead at strategies that combine cloud services with omni-channel communication, data visualisation and automation, while incorporating effective e-learning and workforce management will be those that stay ahead in the contact centre industry in the coming years.”