Top 5 Call Center Trend Predictions for 2012
This year has seen a lot of changes in the call center space. Within an industry that is notoriously slow to change and embrace new technology, 2012 is going to buck that trend and show some major shifts in the industry. My predictions for 2012:
- Shift from premise-based systems to the cloud. In 2010, experts were predicting a shift to the cloud. And so it has come to pass and will continue to pass in 2011. Forrester is making optimistic forecasts for analytics, cloud computing and smart computing, based on their tracking of 40 Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) vendors. Now that solid reports are available showing operating costs savings averaging 40% over five years, the only holdouts are those who have sunk too much into capital expenditures on newer infrastructure. Even so, many are dipping a toe into the cloud with hosted virtual desktops and other SaaS options.
- Heightened speed of transition from TDM to SIP. The SBC (Session Border Controller) market grew by 45% in 2010, increasing that market to $271 million. SIP trunking is the primary service provided by these SBC adopters and will continue to be through 2012. Let’s face it; IP hardware is more reliable and flexible than old-fashioned TDM ware, and with more call centers requiring data streams to support multi-channel approaches to customer service, TDM is no longer an efficient solution. SIP is rapidly becoming the standard, and it carries cost savings benefits as well.
- Technology winners will be providers of big data visualization. Analysts have estimated that 80% of business data is unstructured. Leaders in the trend towards big data will be those that can provide an analyst-in-a-box, with simplified data visualization that reduces the signal-to-noise ratio and provides curated, actionable information streams for the average user. While the specialized eye of a trained analyst can’t be boxed, key data points required to make a decision can be. The frontrunners in the call center space will be those that can break and restructure the system of data visualization so that it can be used on a daily basis.
- Increased adoption of work-from-home model. In a 2010 survey of contact center decision makers, Forrester found that 35% of companies had plans for expanding their home agent program over the next year. And those who had already adopted the remote agent model reported expanded skills recruiting, decreased attrition, higher productivity and lower infrastructure costs. The case has clearly been made for the remote agent model, and 2012 will see an expansion of at-home agents. And why not? Organizations can even make the argument that their at-home workforce is greener and more environmentally friendly than a brick and mortar center.
- Return of focus to customer service over technology. While each trend listed above is a technology solution, what we will see more of in 2012 is technology enabling a return to customer-centricity. As more organizations adopt cloud and SIP technology, send their workers home to be happier and more productive and use big data to drive decisions, the ultimate result will be counterintuitive: more time to focus on the original value of the call center, which is the opportunity to provide cutting edge customer service that keeps customers loyal.
Welcome, 2012. It’s going to be a fun ride.