changes-coming“Change is the only constant in life,”  according to Greek philosopher

This seems especially true in the fast-paced world of managing the customer experience. There are many variables that influence the customer experience, and contact centers are more and more challenged by the growing number of complexities to be managed.

The biggest challenge is providing consistent customer experiences across all of the communication channels consumers use today. While many contact centers have just figured out how to deal with email and chat conversations, newer channels such as social media, Skype, Whatsapp and transactions through mobile applications are knocking on the door of the contact center.

But there are many other changes happening within the contact center domain, so to deliver on the growing demands of your customers within the next two years, you need to take action today.

When defining your two-year customer experience transformation strategy, keep the following six contact center changes in mind:

#1 Contact centers will become customer hubs that manage the customer journey spanning marketing, sales and service

The time where simply managing the SLA and average handle time (AHT) for each channel in isolation is long gone. Today’s customers want you to manage their customer journey and provide contextual and personalized experience. Contact centers will transform into customer hubs that not only make contextual, intelligent decisions in real time to better serve the customer, but also help you deliver on your own business objectives, such as reducing operating cost and increasing revenue.

#2 Traditional metrics will no longer be used extensively – Net Promoter Score (NPS) becomes king 

Forget about SLAs, average speed of answer (ASA), AHT and all the other contact center acronyms of the 90’s. All you should care about is NPS. Are you increasing the number of promoters that will sell your brand to their family and friends? Obviously you have to operate on a specific budget, but as long as you can justify that within that budget, you are tapping in to the customer lifetime value and helping your organization grow and become more profitable. All other metrics should serve that single purpose, and if they don’t, they become obsolete. In the near future, organizations will be able to accurately calculate and correlate budget spend to NPS growth. Traditional contact center metrics will be replaced by CX metrics.

#3 The contact center infrastructure will be an integral part of the enterprise architecture

The time where the contact center application lived in a big grey box that occupied a vast amount of space in your server room or data center is way behind us. Today’s modern contact center applications are open, run on industry-standard hardware, and integrated seamlessly with your overall IT strategy and enterprise architecture. This means that contact center functions such as routing and reporting are normalized building blocks based on the service oriented architecture principle, and work closely together with your other logical building blocks.

Such an approach enables you to create a symbiotic relationship between your “system of record” and your “system of engagement,” and enables real-time, intelligent communication with your customers through all communication channels. If you are a CIO or IT Executive, download our whitepaper on this topic now.

#4 Driving quality and managing employees across the enterprise will be done through a single CX platform

Great customer experiences are delivered by great people. The level of engagement of your employees is a critical success factor, and there is a clear correlation between NPS and Employee Promoter Score. But, there are many moving parts to this equation. To measure and manage employee engagement, choosing a CX platform that also can help you monitor, coach, analyze and plan your workforce, without having to manually gather data or integrate systems is a key requirement for a modern contact center operation.

#5 Contact centers will use cognitive systems

A critical requirement for consistent, great customer experiences is to find the best customer – employee match every time. To facilitate this requirement, analytics and big data applications will be integrated into the contact center to make automated recommendations and business rules in real time and feed into the routing engine. This technology will also enable the implementation of very intelligent and intuitive virtual assistance. In the future, virtual assistance will be your best performing agents.

#6 Facial recognition biometrics will be widely adopted and used in the contact center

As the vast majority of customer communication will happen over smart devices, contact centers will make better use of these devices’ capabilities. From GPS tracking to communicating through multiple channels at the same time (multimodality), using the smartphone’s camera for authentication will be the norm. Through biometrics, organizations can ask the customer to identify themselves in an IVR or when talking to an agent by simply activating their built-in camera. This is a less intrusive method than voice-biometrics and less sensitive to fraud. Facial expressions also reveal the customer’s emotion such as frustration, and help agents sense that the customer might not be convinced when trying to close a sale.

Some of these contact center changes may sound like Star Wars to you right now, but did you imagine talking to your car or posting your entire personal life on a cloud-based social network 10 years ago?

One of the laws of innovation is that its speed is an exponential curve, and the contact center domain is no exception to this rule. To learn more about the future of customer experience, read the CX Report today or download the Forrester Report Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service right now.

Stefan Captijn

Stefan Captijn

Stefan is Senior Director Strategic Marketing at Genesys. Stefan joined Genesys in April 2000, lives in the Amsterdam area with his wife and two children. In his free time, Stefan enjoys building loudspeakers, cycling and running.