What is in store for call centers in 2015?
2014 has been a busy year for call centers. Interest in multichannel/cross-channeling and cloud have been up; more and more call centers are moving representatives out of brick-and-mortar and into the comfort of their homes; and hardware is becoming less relevant as software and cloud-based applications take over the space.
After fieldings hundreds of sales inquiries and implementing dozens of cloud integrations in 2014, Spoken has seen major shifts in the key concerns of organizations providing contact center customer service.
1. Consolidation and centralization
This year, many organizations stepped back to take a good, hard look at their contact center infrastructure with consolidation in mind. Green field opportunities were down as more and more enterprise contact centers sought operational efficiency around major upgrades. This trend will undoubtedly continue in 2015, since the cloud is no longer the shiny new toy and seems to be hitting the Slope of Enlightenment in the hype cycle. Sure, smart enterprise is open to cloud, but it must also aid their efforts to consolidate and centralize their contact centers to be more consistent, efficient and accountable. 2015 will bring more opportunities to consolidate legacy infrastructure and operations, perhaps with one foot in the cloud.
Speaking of cloud, more and more contact centers are inquiring about the cloud; industry analysts report inquiry load regarding the cloud for the contact center is up significantly over the last three years. Key drivers for organizations considering the transition to cloud involve:
- consolidation of multiple sites
- flexibility and scalability
- lower total cost of ownership
- rapid speed to market that cloud implementations offer
While multichannel was the big buzzword of 2014, our latest report shows that 77% of users still prefer the phone as their first or second channel of choice (with email being the runner up at 59%). Despite the fact that many organizations do offer a unified queue, agents are still single-tasked as either phone or email agents and will log out of one to service another. That being said, we will most likely continue to see development of a multichannel approach to customer service with the understanding that not all channels are treated equally; phone will still support the bulk of customer service demands, but the importance of consistency of experience across channels will continue to grow. We'll see more customers leaving brands that don't support their channel of choice, which will drive initiatives to support the lesser-used channels.
While contact center infrastructure decisions used to be made based on immediate need and familiar brands, there is a growing awareness that the technology is changing at a more rapid pace than before. Organizations are seeking vendors that not only can accommodate immediate needs while accommodating existing infrastructure but also provide products and services that are extensible to the future. It's no longer enough to be a trusted OEM or to have a cookie cutter offering; enterprise is seeking solutions that integrate with legacy infrastructure while offering cloud benefits in a customized or hybrid integration model. In 2015, we'll see a greater demand for hybrid cloud solutions and vendors that can accommodate complex integrations in a "cloud without change" path-to-the-future model.
All in all, these trends spell good news for cloud infrastructure providers (like Spoken) and for the call center industry in general. With the market shifting toward consolidation, cloud, multichannel with an eye to future innovation, the call center will become more flexible, scalable and profitable than ever before.