David du Toit gives us his top five predictions for call centre communication technologies to watch out for this year.
1. Collaborative Customer Service
Enhancing the customer experience will be a core focus for call centres this year, but in doing so they will need to embrace forms of media collaboratively. One such technology and concept that is currently greatly under-used is the Universal Queue – whereby multiple communication channels are integrated into a single ‘queue’ to standardise processing and handling. This allows agents to collaborate centrally to resolve customer queries more effectively.
We expect to see companies making more use of this technology in 2010 as the divide between the call centre and online interaction narrows. Longer term, we expect to see companies using the concept of the Universal Queue in a proactive way to improve the service expectation of their customers.
2. Data Analytics
Data Analytics or ‘performance information’ increasingly provides opportunities for improved business decisions.
Enhancements to speech recognition technologies are now allowing companies to add further information such as emotional content and triggers into their analysis. We expect Data Analytics to grow over the next 18 months as companies strive to improve customer satisfaction. Vendors to watch out for in the call recording space are the likes of NICE and Verint.
3. Unified Communication (UC)
We expect call centres will further adopt UC this year. Allowing users to personalise, control and manage calls, messages, directories and information from any location is a valuable tool for any organisation. However, we believe that, increasingly, call centres will put ‘presence’ at the heart of UC. We don’t just mean automating the contacts book through the desk top to the call centre, but seeing what agents, devices and objects are linked to the network, i.e. what documents are open and by whom.
4. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
SIP saw further progression in 2009. In 2010 we expect to see new services and options increasing, with rapid growth towards the end of the year. In particular, we anticipate that SIP trunking will be the biggest area of growth. Call centres will use it to reduce the cost of connectivity to service providers, thereby enabling better use of telephony resources.
5. Voice Biometrics
Voice biometrics is one of the hottest topics in the market. It is poised for rapid growth this year, with the financial services sector being an early adopter.
Previous phone banking authentication systems have been cumbersome but voice biometrics look set to change that in 2010. Voice is being used to authenticate and identify customers. It provides a better and speedier customer experience but also will help to reduce operational costs and fraud.
Airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick are already using forms of biometrics with retina scans and facial recognition, respectively. Voice biometric authentication has a number of advantages over these other biometric technologies. This is not least because it is cheaper to deploy than fingerprint/facial recognition which requires specialised hardware. As voice biometric technology is easy to use remotely over the phone, we foresee that it will grow in popularity in 2010.
However, we don’t foresee that second-tier identification (information such as place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.) will ever go away. Companies will retain such authentication while they become confident in using biometric technology. Also, there still needs to be a fail-over in place for customers who do not authenticate through voice and therefore need to be passed straight to a customer service agent.
All in all, 2010 will be an exciting year for call centre communication systems and applications.
David du Toit is CTO at Datapoint