Four Investment-Worthy Contact Center Trends

By Donna Fluss

The contact center world is on fire. Never before have enterprise executives so fully appreciated the contributions and benefits of these customer-facing organizations. Innovation is robust and rapid, driven by a new generation of cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors who are not limited by the traditional six- to eighteen-month software release cycle.

Here are four contact center trends that are expected to attract substantial investments this year. All of these trends will make substantial contributions to their enterprises, customers, and employees.

1) Cloud-based Contact Center Infrastructure Solutions: The contact center infrastructure (automatic call distributor (ACD) and dialer) market has changed dramatically. Companies are no longer held captive to a small group of premise-based vendors who dictate the functionality, implementation schedule, and pricing for these solutions. Companies of all sizes – from those that need two agents to organizations that need thousands – now have access to a new generation of cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions. There are currently more than 150 of these vendors with offerings of all types, sizes, and functionality. Additionally, enterprises can easily purchase both private branch exchange (PBX) and ACD/dialer functionality from the same vendor on a worldwide basis.

2) Speech Analytics: Today customer calls are being recorded for more than just quality assurance purposes. It’s time for organizations of all sizes to use the rich content customers share with organizations in phone conversations to identify trends, operational and technical issues, and new opportunities. Post-call speech analytics solutions capture and convert unstructured phone conversations into metadata that can be analyzed and used for many purposes, but the six most common uses are: root cause analysis, trend analysis, emotion detection, talk-over analysis, script adherence, and analytics-enabled quality assurance. The chief challenge with speech analytics is implementing best practices that will allow organizations to succeed with this enterprise change agent.

3) Multi-channel Contact Centers: The time has come for companies to transition to omni-channel contact centers. (Omni-channel is another name for multi-channel; vendors are trying to change the terminology to distance themselves from the failures of the past.) Customers are no longer willing to put up with having to start over and repeat themselves each time they transition to a new communications channel. Baby boomers and Generation X-ers were willing to put up with this dysfunction, but Millennials clearly are not. Millennials want to seamlessly migrate from one channel to another in accordance with their needs.

But there is more to this story. While it’s a good idea for companies to allow their customers to interact with them in the manner and channel of choice, the fact is that in many companies it is too expensive to continue to maintain the separation between functions. Yes, it will be painful, time-consuming, and costly to eliminate the silos. However, companies that are doing the analysis and building the business case for this evolution are starting to see a clear payback – albeit one that is going to take three to five years.

4) Adaptive and Intelligent Real-Time Routing: Companies can now provide personalized service. When an interaction (call, email, chat, SMS, or tweet) arrives, the ACD’s routing engine can determine the value of the customer (and possibly even a prospect), identify the best way to achieve the objective of the interaction, and then route the transaction to the best qualified person or system to handle it. This type of one-to-one service is enabled by the deep level of integration between ACDs and other enterprise servicing applications, including customer relationship management, sales, performance management, quality assurance, and speech analytics. Using sophisticated adaptive and intelligent routing capabilities that are emerging in the market, companies can truly optimize the service experience. Then, in doing so, they can greatly improve customer and agent satisfaction thus increasing productivity while reducing operating costs.

It’s time for companies to rethink their servicing strategies and begin to build next-generation servicing organizations. This year is expected to be a great year for contact center investments. Start with a plan that takes into consideration the many ways contact centers are expected to contribute to their enterprise, and prioritize the investments that will get you there quicker.

Donna Fluss is the founder of DMG, a vendor-independent research and consulting firm that analyzes contact center and back-office technology and best practices. Contact her at with any questions you may have and to learn how to make today’s innovative and powerful technologies and best practices work for your organization.

[From Connection Magazine Mar/Apr 2015]