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Major contact center changes of 2013

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As the business and consumer telecommunications landscape evolves, contact center decision-makers need to adapt if their agencies are to continue meeting demand. As 2012 comes to a close, executives in the customer service industry are trying to get a grasp on what needs to be accomplished in 2013. While many adaptations to the office phone system will happen, other crucial transformations also need to take place.

A recent Call Centre Clinic report highlighted some of the major contact center changes that will take place in 2013, with some holding more weight than others. As always, reducing customer churn will be a top priority, as a company is only as strong as its client base. To minimize turnover and boost conversion rates, however, several things need to happen.

The rise of the omnichannel

Call Centre Clinic said the 'omnichannel' approach to customer communications is quickly replacing the long-standing demand to deliver multiple channels to clients. While giving individuals several options to connect with contact center agents will still be important, decision-makers need a way to easily monitor each platform without interrupting operations. This will ultimately give rise to the omnichannel approach.

By using a robust unified communications system, decision-makers can gather insight into collaboration strategies, track customers across multiple channels and observe interaction history more efficiently.

Mobility is crucial to the future

Consumerization is playing a major role in the development of the contact center and will continue to do so in 2013, Call Centre Clinic noted. The smartphone and tablet have recently become more important in consumers' lives and are continually contributing to how contact centers operate. If an agency neglects to implement a mobile strategy, it will find itself unable to meet the demand of many of today's customers.

Contact centers should also implement mobile self-service portals so consumers can resolve easier problems on their own. A recent study by SpeechCycle and Echo Research found that about half of smartphone users would prefer navigating a mobile channel before speaking with a contact center representative.

"Many consumers prefer to use self-service channels with two-thirds stating they have tried to resolve their issues themselves rather than call customer service," said Scott Kolman, senior vice president of marketing at SpeechCycle.

The cloud grows in importance

While cloud computing is gaining momentum throughout the private sector, contact centers in particular are warming up to the technology. Generally, customer service organizations use the cloud for two purposes: storage and communications.

In regard to storage, decision-makers are recognizing that the cloud's scalable qualities are increasingly beneficial, especially as agencies accumulate more information on customers through ongoing interactions. Call Centre Clinic reported that data volumes grew 48 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, enabling executives to analyze and leverage information on customers.

The hosted PBX system is also being used more frequently in contact centers because the scalable infrastructure makes it easier to support remote workers without impairing call quality. Furthermore, when a contact center uses a cloud communications system, decision-makers can implement changes and manage the solutions more easily with external support.

The contact center will continue evolving in 2013 and beyond, though next year will represent a critical time when executives need to adapt or risk falling behind. In an already highly competitive private sector, playing catch-up can have significant negative consequences and hinder a company's ability to innovate and support long-term growth, making it difficult to succeed in the coming years.