With every full turn of the earth around the sun we ask each other what the next 365 days will bring. It’s a tradition, right? And the contact centre industry is no different. When we look at contact centre trends, research shows own local APAC contact centres don’t differ much from our counterparts around the world. We’re a little faster on uptake for some things — a little slower on others — but the same technology is in our sights and the same strategies are being reviewed.
In this blog our Enghouse experts have weighed in on the top contact centre technology trends predicted for 2022:
1. Front line service becomes more flexible with more options
We saw a jump in customer service expectations after the pandemic started, with businesses needing to up their game when it came to matching their competitors for online service.
Phone calls were longer (as some consumers had more time on their hands) and queues and wait times grew in response. But there will always be customers who need fast (preferably instant) service. This dichotomy has proven best served with a mix of skilled personal service – and bots. Again, the pandemic has ushered in another sea change as our customers become more familiar with, more tolerant of, and ultimately more demanding of bot assistance. One thing, however, is critical: do not subject your customers to bot-jail. Every bot interaction must have a get out of jail option to a live person if conversations become more complex than the bot is trained to handle. Of course, each one of those conversations can lead to upskilling the bot so it becomes increasingly capable and useful.
Another pandemic legacy is video; we have all grown more comfortable with using our camera during the pandemic. While this growth is still slow in APAC we do expect growth in this channel as organisations start to appreciate the benefits of a more personalised consultation in both sales and service.
Lastly, augmented reality (AR) is surely on its way. Not just for supervisors, but for retail agents or certain helpdesk scenarios. As with the other technology adoptions above, competition and consumer familiarity may lead the way, especially with the prospect of Apple investing more this space.
2. No more allowances for the Pandemic
Back in 2020 we saw a remarkable degree of empathy between customers and workers. Our customers appreciated the significant shift in work environment necessary to deliver continuity of service, and the huge effort that went into that. Meanwhile our agents found themselves giving sympathy to lonely and bewildered consumers forced online. We saw patience and tolerance on both sides.
However, in 2022 businesses cannot expect to use that excuse, either for poor customer service or for inadequate agent nurture.
- Customers: Despite the challenges – as noted above, largely because organisations accelerated their digital transformation in response to the ramped up competitive environment – customer service experience generally went up another notch, so while the bar is definitely raised for 2022, tolerance is back to pre-pandemic levels (or worse, given the heightened aggression far too commonly evident in many conversations).
- Agents: The “Great Resignation” is real, right across the world, and we are certainly still experiencing it in APAC in 2022. Agents can hope to move for higher pay, so look after the great ones you have, or you’ll find yourself paying more for a new candidate with fewer skills.
As one of our own experts puts it, “both of these factors mean that businesses need to redouble their efforts to improve the customer and agent experience if they are to retain revenues and skills going forward”.
3. Be prepared for a hybrid contact centre for service delivery
“Hybrid” is a word we’re seeing a lot of right now and we can expect to see it more in 2022. Hybrid simply means recognising a single delivery model isn’t necessarily right for your organisation and finding the right balance. We predict three areas where you might want to consider hybrid…
Hybrid software applications deployment
This applies to any solutions you’re using, or plan to use. The most important advice here is don’t lock yourself into any deployment model at the outset of any decision making. If you have a strong preference for a particular deployment, make it your top preference factor – but just don’t make it a filter or you could be backing up the truck later. Go into your review with an open mind and find the right solutions to meet your business needs. In fact, most organisations do use a mix of cloud, private cloud and on-premises deployments, depending on their preferences which can vary from flexibility, easy scalability and reducing infrastructure overheads, to control, data sovereignty and feature availability.
Offering a hybrid customer experience
As we discussed above, we expect 2022 to continue the trend for 24×7 self-service. They don’t want to wait 20 minutes in a queue to ask a simple 2-minute question! By the same token, when they do talk to a human about something a bit more complex, they don’t want to be rushed. Your business will also want to make it easier for high value interactions to receive the best possible engagement for upsell or loyalty purposes. Deploying a hybrid customer experience ensures you’re delivering the best mix of options to suit your customers’ needs.
After 2020 we learned that staff really can work from anywhere, it’s absolutely proven. For some organisations and contact centre groups that was an excellent step forward. For others it creates an expectation with staff that employers aren’t willing to provide for in the longer term. So now, in 2022, organisations need to review their policies and provisioning and decide what location conditions to offer (or insist upon). For many, it turns out that Hybrid is the best policy. Two or three days in the office, for example; the other days remote. IT groups also need to ensure they can provide the infrastructure to support this ongoing for 2022 and beyond.
4. Streamlining back-office processes with AI
We’ve seen AI adoption increase dramatically in the digital transformation of the last two years. In this region our research of local contact centres shows that 51% of NZ and 62% of Australian contact centres are planning to use at least a basic chatbot by 2022:
There are a number of applications for AI that we expect to see getting more attention in 2022, such as those below.
Solutions for Customers
AI chatbots are often the first step for organisations. However, we predict that improvements in Conversational AI and speech recognition and transcription will deliver an increasingly valuable outcome for both customer services and retail operations that will drive increased adoption.
Solutions for Agent engagement and quality
Relevant applications for this space include Agent coaching (facilitating real-time script adherence) and quality assessment (both real-time and historical). Bringing in AI for these functions to do the listening not only saves supervisors many hours of fairly tedious work but also allows you to expand coverage of call monitoring from the typical 20% to anything up to 100%.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has long been around, but with the improvements in AI capability, RPA’s potential applications have increased enormously. Smart listening allows you to identify key words and phrases to report on, giving you an overview of where each customer is in terms of their loyalty, helping you spot upsell/cross-sell opportunities, and find weaknesses in product processes or agent knowledge.
Think ahead to the global trends and relevant options for your 2022 contact centre, and if you’d like to, please let us know how we can help.
- We recommend this report and webinar: The Shape of the Australia & New Zealand Contact Centre Industry in 2021
- Check out our Customer Insights web page for more information
Contact us to find out more about enabling your contact centre on Teams at helloAPAC@enghouse.comMORE QUESTIONS?