What will the Contact Centre of the Future look like? In a five-part series, Ashley Burton, Head of Product at Eckoh, explores the radical changes ahead – starting with a new breed of customer that's emerging.
To consider the Contact Centre of the Future we must first consider the Customer of the Future ... what their lives will be like and what their needs and expectations might be in the changing world they inhabit.
In many ways, the Customer of the Future exists today but as a smaller (but increasing) demographic. They’re out there right now, living the ‘digital first’ lifestyle, banking with digital-only operations such as Starling and Monzo, ordering food via apps from Deliveroo, travelling with Uber, renting cars by the day from ZipCar and staying in AirBnb.
These consumers take a goal-driven approach to managing their lives – and they travel light.
They conduct their personal, professional and customer service interactions by moving seamlessly between devices, channels and modes of interaction, based on whatever is most convenient or appropriate at the time. However, they expect the services they’re using to be available wherever and whenever they need them, never dropping the ball and always keeping track of their context and personal history.
To these consumers, a broken journey spells ‘game over’ for customer satisfaction. Competitors are only a click, a tap or even a voice command away.
The Customer of the Future will be ‘always on’, with 5G connectivity providing them with instant access to rich content and services on the move – and there will be no excuse for providing tired old services that don’t move with the times. If customers don’t think you’re putting in the effort or your systems are making their lives difficult, they’ll move to another service where they’ll get what they want.
Customers will live in smart homes, surrounded by the Internet of Things. These connected devices and services will create their own customer service needs and will also help to satisfy them. The increasing levels of technology and complexity surrounding customers will mean they will turn to AI-based voice assistants to manage their lives, consume media and purchase products and services.
The world will be full of local, brand-based and global voice assistants from Telefonica’s Aura through to Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant. These assistants will not only answer general questions and provide access to content, they will act as a digital concierge for customers who will trust them to provide recommendations and make choices on their behalf.
All of this digital activity will generate a huge amount of streaming contextual data, arriving 24/7 from digital thermostats, doorbell cameras, fitness wearables, transactions, app usage, web visits, voice recordings, location breadcrumbs and more.
This data opens up huge privacy and data protection issues but also creates a great opportunity to use this information to better understand the context of customer interactions. Feeding this data into Machine Learning and Deep Learning algorithms will help us to analyse behaviour and predict demand, allowing customer service to become proactive and instantly available at the point of need.
We are now entering the era of Ambient Customer Engagement where customers will expect omnipresent technology to provide support whenever and wherever needed with minimal customer effort, proactively addressing their needs, in many cases before the customer even knows they need anything.
If you like the way we’re thinking, take a look at the Eckoh Experience Portal. It gives contact centres all the channels and payment solutions they need to transform customer engagement, protect data and achieve PCI DSS compliance. With new services and features becoming available when they’re needed, you can keep up with soaring customer expectations and maximise satisfaction – without having to rip and replace your systems endlessly. Everything you need can be added quickly, easily and cost effectively.
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