The Future of the Call Center Industry

By Tom Goodmanson

When looking at the future of the call center, you might expect those of us in the industry to make far-reaching predictions that anticipate the demise of the call center, overtaken by social media and computerized service agents that know what the customer needs before they even know they need it. While these progressions may one day become a reality, current predictions for call centers of the future actually indicate a shift toward more personalized service, fueled by better data within the contact center and promising significant achievable results.

Of course, we can’t look to the future without considering where we’re at right now. Today, analytics and big data are key themes in many industries – the former being useful for sorting through business transactions, warehoused data, and, more recently, social media. In the call center, speech analytic technology is being used to realize the dramatic impact unstructured voice data can have on a business. Other industries claim social media analytics holds the key to unlocking business success. Neither of these independent strategies alone will work, but an integrated strategy is very powerful.

The contact centers of the future will master integrated analytic processes and become hubs of customer interaction. This will correlate and flood information through the enterprise, allowing businesses to become more intelligent about products, services, and customers.

In order to achieve this milestone, contact center personnel will have software on the desktop that clearly and specifically presents suggested actions by analyzing data in a relevant time frame and displays it in a way that is meaningful for the current business objectives.

Analytic processes adopted by future contact centers will meld physical and digital actions together, analyzing all forms of transactions from keystrokes and spoken voice to emails, online chats, tweets, and Facebook postings. Contact centers will be able to correlate this data into intelligent reporting that alerts the business of who, what, where, why, and how a problem or opportunity started, with suggestions on how to solve or take advantage of it.

For example, when a call center is alerted of a complaint, managers will be able to instantly sort through trillions of bytes of data to learn who is talking about the issue and how they are discussing it. This allows them to proactively take action before the problem escalates into a trend. Regardless of whether the complaint stems from service or product issues, corporate policies, or an outside influence, the contact center becomes an essential component in data analysis that drives customer service, product marketing, and operational improvements.

A final prediction is the ease with which contact centers will have access to these integrated solutions. In the future, call center agents, managers, and others will be able to harness these powerful, comprehensive analytic solutions without cost, utilization, and operational hurdles. The call center will be enabled to share powerful insights with their company’s decision-makers and demonstrate heightened strategic value to the entire enterprise.

Tom Goodmanson is president and CEO of Calabrio.

[From Connection Magazine December 2012]