As more businesses face the technical realities of digital transformation and advance towards 4IR, the customer experience is always front-of-mind – and it is little wonder the call centre has emerged as the frontline of technology-driven, fully automated service delivery.

This is according to Ian Goss-Ross, CEO of Elingo, who has identified several trends that will define the call centre industry in 2020, including internal consolidation, social impact, AI, robotic process automation (RPA), and cloud deployment.

“One of the main trends is consolidation … the line between contact centre and other functions like admin, finance, sales and support is getting blurred. More companies will use cross-functional experience to enhance service delivery to customers,” he says.

Referring to mainstay technologies in 2019, AI, RPA and the cloud, Goss-Ross says there has always been big hype around AI and in the contact centre, the motivators are to enhance business in a way that not only assists agents, but is also used to predict business trends.

“In the past implementing AI required significant in house technology investments, but with cloud any company can benefit from AI,” Goss-Ross continues. “In terms of RPA, we have experienced how just one robot can do the repetitive work of thousands of humans in a contact centre. RPA will not replace people, but will relieve workload so that employees can focus on the high value tasks. (The technology) can take a huge amount of admin away in many areas of the business, e.g.  sales, support, finance, IT.”

Given the customer-facing nature of the contact centre and its direct link to business processes and procedures, it is no surprise to executives that social media has- and will continue to have an impact on the call centre environment.

“Companies realise the impact of social media is massive,” says Goss-Ross, adding that there is a new drive not just to service customers with other media channels, but to understand the voice of the customer.

Channels including Facebook, WhatsApp feature strongly, and in other countries Apple Business Chat is expected to make a huge impact, according to Elingo.

However, the cloud is one of the most significant trends going forward says Goss-Ross.

“Companies have been sweating IT assets but the uptake in Cloud is growing at a fast rate as we see those companies now transitioning to the cloud when IT assets are end of life,” he says. “….and new start-up companies are almost exclusively implementing cloud from day one.”

Essentially customers now realise the security of the cloud platforms is much better than what most companies can achieve in-house, Goss-Ross says.

Elingo believes that as long as companies are proactive in following the development of these trends and plan for-and manage their impact, they will definitely enhance their call centre operation and extract maximum value from the resource.