With the contact center industry advancing so rapidly, it’s sometimes difficult to predict how things could change in the near future. Still, a few indicators show where the sector is heading, especially from a human capital and technology standpoint.
After some insightful conversations with our clients in the contact center space, here’s how we expect things to play out between now and 2026.
Goodbye Physical Centers; Hello Remote Workforce
The Virtual Call Center is becoming an operational reality.
The widespread implementation of remote employment was a slow process until the pandemic forced the industry’s hands. Before COVID-19, contact centers experimented with relatively small work-at-home pilots, often hindered by client security concerns and incompatible technologies and processes.
Today, evidence suggests we are heading in a different direction — work-at-home agents will be the norm, not the exception, within the next five years.
Earlier this year, 58% of respondents stated in a FlexJobs survey that they would go job hunting if their current employer removed the option to work remotely. With attrition representing the industry’s biggest challenges for many years, contact centers cannot afford to lose employees, so offering remote work is essential for retaining people when work-at-home is normalized.
Aside from the HR angle, cost is another critical component. While work-at-home is generally more cost-effective than running a physical center, there are still factors like security breaches, device procurement, logistics, IT support costs, and employee downtime to consider.
Bring your own device (BYOD) is one way to eliminate many of these associated costs, particularly logistics and device procurement — the global GPU chip shortage is limiting scalability and adding delays to agent onboarding, so BYOD is a vital alternative to negate that issue. In addition, with a robust BYOD security solution in place, contact centers can prevent security breaches, reduce employee downtime, and lessen the need for expensive IT support.
So, with employees demanding remote work and BYOD making it secure and cost-effective, it’s only a matter of time before contact centers implement work-at-home permanently.
Increased Agility Through Cloud-Based Call Centers
Most contact centers will always remember 2020 and 2021 as the years that tested their operational agility. Amid global pandemic-related restrictions, providers had to move fast to migrate their on-premises technology, infrastructure, processes, and security protocols to a work-at-home environment after decades of operating almost exclusively in brick-and-mortar facilities.
For many organizations, this situation required an immediate acceleration of their digital transformation efforts, fuelling an increased adoption of cloud technologies. This momentum applies to most contact center essentials, from CRM and IVR systems, interaction recording, core telephony platforms, and analytics to quality, knowledge, and workforce management tools.
Cloud technology’s increased speed and scalability enable providers to focus on offering enhanced customer experiences in an ever-changing world. Now, and for many years to come, cloud tools are essential for contact centers to ensure business continuity, align with regulatory requirements, and compete in an agile, digital marketplace.
Advanced Robot-Human Relationships
Contrary to popular belief, robots will not be our evil overlords in the next five years (maybe ten), but they will become ever-present, ever-helpful digital companions in most contact centers.
Chatbots, robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI) can already automate many of the “easy fixes” in customer service, but we expect more contact centers to apply them as powerful sidekicks to human agents in the near future. Indeed, the range of contact center software solutions available grows each year.
With intelligent call routing, for instance, AI can analyze past customer communications to determine the services best suited to the caller’s profile and then automatically route their call to the most appropriate department. When used internally, similar solutions can empower agents to find relevant customer data quickly, provide more personalized experiences, and connect with callers on a human level.
Soon, the efficiency, accuracy, and personalization benefits drawn from automation technologies will grow to define a contact center’s success in delivering competitive, memorable customer experiences.
Eco-Friendly Contact Centers
Contact center providers are under increasing pressure to improve their sustainability practices, meaning they must control (or eliminate) their use of the planet’s resources while practicing social responsibility. In addition, customers are more proactive than ever when researching companies’ environmental credentials, so contact centers risk losing brand reputation if they fail to meet expectations.
As more and more contact centers strive for ecological sustainability, remote operations will continue to grow in importance. For example, work-at-home employees consume fewer company resources and rarely need to commute to the office, reducing their direct or indirect consumption of fossil fuels. Plus, when organizations favor BYOD over the procurement of corporate devices, they actively support the environment by limiting their use of plastics, metals, and other materials while reducing their second-hand carbon footprint.
Plus, remote hiring allows small- and mid-tier contact centers to expand their global footprint without creating a negative impact on the environment, so we expect more providers of this size to “go green” by favoring work-at-home operations.
Creating a secure Remote Working environment
If your contact center is operating or evaluating a remote working policy then it's vital that you have the necessary security framework in place. ThinScale's secure Remote Worker is a light-touch software application that protects your agents' devices and allows them to work securely from any location.