The Contact Centre of 2020


We take an in-depth look at what the contact centre might look like in 2020.

Contact centres will become increasingly strategic

It is an undeniable truth that customers are changing and that this is forcing us, as an industry, to think very differently.

As we move towards 2020, I think contact centres will react to this new generation of customers by becoming increasingly strategic in the way that they do business.

This is likely to be supported by an increased focus on Big Data analytics – as the tools to do so are becoming more and more advanced – and intelligence-based routing.

The core of the industry will be complex problem solving

In a recent BT survey, 54% of contact centre professionals voted that the contact centre of 2020 would be largely focused on complex problem solving – dealing with the issues that cannot be resolved through self-service options.

In line with this vision, the role of a contact centre agent may disappear as a low-pay job and give way to “super agents”.

The most-desired skills of these next-generation “super agents” will likely be problem solving, communication skills and product/service experience.

Webchat will give the phone a run for its money

webchat-185The mix of channels in the contact centres is also likely to shift in the next few years, with webchat expected to be the dominant channel by 2020.

This is because it is an easy experience for the customer and the agents enjoy using it. Also, the economics of webchat work well, as multiple chats can be handled simultaneously.

As for other channels, video is likely to grow, social media will likely remain part of the picture but as a secondary rather than primary channel, and email will continue to die a slow death.

There will be an increasing focus on customer ease and satisfaction

The contact centre of 2020 will focus primarily on customer-centred metrics including Customer Satisfaction, Right the First Time and Easy/Effort.

By comparison, metrics such as Call Handling Time and the NetPromoter Score are likely to decline in popularity.

Culture will prevent homeworking from really taking off

Recent survey findings have revealed that 47% of people think (and hope) that the contact centre of 2020 will still exist within the confines of a dedicated centre. By contrast, only 14% think that the contact centre of 2020 will be home-based.

Nicola Millard

The most likely reason for this is that contact centre professionals consider a physical contact centre space to be the easiest environment to manage.

While the technology is in place for homeworking to be a realistic alternative to agents working a dedicated centre, the cultural mentality of the industry is likely to prevent homeworking from reaching its potential any time soon.

With thanks to Dr. Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist at BT

Customers will be matched to the most appropriate agent

The contact centre of 2020 will witness new and innovative ways of matching customers with agents – many of which are already making their début in the industry.

select-agent-185Advanced technology will enable customers to be matched with the most suitable agent for their particular problem, rather than being filtered via linear routing to the next available agent.

This will be enhanced by Social Customer Service, which will allow customers to see the wait times, specialisms and customer-rating scores attached to the individual available agents.

Overall, this will help to personalise the customer experience and contribute to the value of the business.

There will be better collaboration and communication

One of the main difficulties agents currently experience is in communicating with their colleagues during a shift and finding the information needed to help the customer. This lack of unity is subsequently projected to the customer, who sees the business as disconnected.

However, forthcoming technology will see agents benefiting from Deep User Profile Content – an enterprise-wide directory for achieving improved collaboration.

This will act like a customisable Facebook page, where agents will be able to see who is available to give the best answer and then carry on with their work having obtained the information they need.

This technology will also transfer onto mobile devices, marking an important step in presenting a more lined-up and professional image to the customer as we head towards 2020.

Distributed cloud architecture will keep everything up to date

Mike Murphy

The contact centre of 2020 will benefit from Distributed Cloud Architecture, which will enable rapid and continuous deployment of the latest upgrades – as frequently as every other week!

Further benefits will include unlimited scalability, maximum reliability and a highly secure environment, a sharp contrast to Legacy Multi-Tenant Offerings, which entail a lack of customisation options, reliance on one vendor and the expense of costly hardware.

With thanks to Mike Murphy at Interactive Intelligence

Your Predictions…

Agents will need to be able to switch between channels

switches-185The contact centre of 2020 will be more multi-skilled and multi-functional.

Agents will need to be able to switch between chat, phone and social interactions.

With thanks to Kim

Customers will choose automated services until an agent is the last option

In the contact centre of 2020, we will find that customers will choose automated services until an agent is the last option.

With thanks to Roy

The primary function will be customer care

I think the primary function of the 2020 contact centre will be customer care.

With thanks to Fons

Job functions will require a higher skill level

talent-select-185I think job functions will require a higher skill level, with an emphasis on problem solving and autonomy.

With thanks to Robin

Augmented reality will provide context-specific contact

We will see contact centres using augmented reality to provide context-specific contact.

With thanks to Wayne

Agents will have advanced skills and the flexibility to work anywhere

The contact centre of 2020 will be made up of more senior agents with advanced skills – with the flexibility to work anywhere that suits them.

With thanks to Kim

There will be a shift towards social media

I think we will see a shift in transactions towards social media.

With thanks to Rebecca

More customers will shift toward non-agent contact

As customers become more comfortable with technology, more will shift towards non-agent contact (non-voice).

With thanks to Roy

There will be more focus on proactive mobile moments

mobile-phone-185In 2020 there will be more focus on proactive mobile moments – to be there for the customer any time any place.

With thanks to Fons

The technophobic generation will give way to the tech savvy

By 2020, those people refusing to jump on the new technology bandwagon may have taken the decision to retire.

This will leave behind those who feel more comfortable with advancing technologies – the ones who’ll be able to support it properly.

With thanks to Mandy

Customers will be able to seamlessly switch between channels

The contact centre of 2020 will have the ability to allow customers to seamlessly switch channels – without losing context and their journey to date.

With thanks to Kim

An integration of location-based (mobile) services and app services

We should see an integration of location-based (mobile) services and app services in the contact centre.

With thanks to Fons

Cloud-based contact centres will become the norm

cloud-service-185Subscription, cloud-based contact centres will become the norm.

With thanks to Tony

Contact centres will focus more on staff health

Sitting down so many hours each day is, according to many scientists, just as dangerous as smoking.

Therefore I think that the physical workplace will have to change.

In 2020 we will see more creative contact centres who focus on the health of their staff.

With thanks to Ivar

Only complex problems will be resolved by an agent

By 2020, customers will use self-service to find a quick or easy solution – leaving only the complex problems to be resolved by an agent at the end of the phone.

With thanks to Amanda

There will be an extension of customer service into the wider enterprise

We will see an extension of customer service into the wider enterprise.

For example, everyone in the organisation will deal with customer service based on their individual skills and knowledge.

With thanks to Pete

We will see an increase in customers helping customers

I think that as we move towards 2020 we will see an increase in customers helping customers, like the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) approach.

With thanks to Kim

We will see more integration within organisations

As everyone across the business holds knowledge which could provide answers to customers via agents, I think we will see more integration (via unified communications) within organisations.

With thanks to Tony

Mobile applications will become more joined up

apps-on-phone-185Mobile applications will become more joined up with contact centres, allowing calls to be made through an app – with context passed across at the same time.

With thanks to Pete

There will be an increase in self-service

By 2020 we will have seen an increase in self-service.

With thanks to Paul

What do you think the contact centre will look like in 2020?

Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Published On: 9th Jul 2014 - Last modified: 22nd Mar 2017
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