Contact Center of the Future Part 5 - Voice


3 Mar 2020

Voice channels will have a bigger say in how customers interact with the Contact Center of the Future. So says Ashley Burton, Head of Product at Eckoh, in this final instalment of his five-part series.

Through a set of blogs, we've been examining the Contact Center of the Future and the customers we can expect, the agents we'll have to hire, the managers who'll oversee operations and the payment services we'll need to provide.

Now our series ends on a high note - with the future of voice.

Until fairly recently, voice was perceived to be in sharp decline. Dropping call volumes and increasing channel shift to the web and self-service apps meant that the channel was losing popularity.

But the future of voice is exciting again - with the rise of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home and the inclusion of voice assistants on devices with Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby and Cortana.

In all likelihood, the concept of a traditional IVR will fall away, replaced by bot-driven conversations that customers use to answer queries and perform self-service tasks. While the percentage of people accessing these IVR-like experiences via telephony channels will decrease, the percentage accessing them via other channels such as apps, websites and smart speakers will increase dramatically.

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Voice is a key technology behind the Ambient Customer Engagement concept that sees consumers being able to ask for help anywhere at any time through any channel. But these omnichannel journeys will no longer be completed in silos. Instead, they will need to be created, configured and all managed through a single interface to help brands realize the benefits of the technology but without generating excessive cost or operational complexity.

Voice services of the future will also no longer be conducted via voice alone. Instead, multimodal interfaces will allow automated solutions and agents to be able to present rich content and touch-screen options to customers via apps or screen-based smart speakers such as the Echo Show or Nest Hub.

Voice Assistants will increasingly be involved in purchasing decisions and initiate payments creating a Voice Commerce ecosystem that will largely be dominated by Amazon and Google, both of whom are working towards a world that will see these twin giants as the front door to a wide range of products and services.

This may prove unpopular in certain sectors as it impacts a brand's 1:1 relationship with its customers although the appeal in areas such as fast fashion and impulse purchasing may prove overwhelming.

But humans will still have a voice.

Talking to real people
However good that voice bot technology happens to be, they'll always be a few stumbles over pronunciation, miscommunications and awkward silences. That's where the Agent of the Future needs to step in and handle the more complex or sensitive queries.

Conversations with agents will no longer come from traditional 'phone 03303' type telephony routes but will be initiated increasingly from within apps, on websites, within social messaging channels such as WhatsApp or from users talking to smart speakers. Accordingly, agents will need tools that help them answer and manage these contacts.

Agents will be working in diverse locations on an array of devices which will mean that voice calls will need to be delivered both to traditional telephony destinations as well as directly to apps and web browsers.

In the Contact Center of the Future, customers will make their voices heard, loud and clear - on whichever channels they choose at any moment. The question is, how many companies will be listening?

Learn more by reaching out to our customer engagement specialists.