Six customer engagement topics that will be hot in 2016

BLOG: Cloud technology, social customer service, Customer Effort, omni-channel communications, speech analytics and Big Data have been amongst the most debated contact centre subjects of 2015.  But what does the future hold?  Martin Taylor, Director of Content Guru, predicts six topics we’ll all be debating in 2016:

1.    Digital Customer Engagement Hubs: With customers demanding anytime, any-where, anyhow service, the key challenge for contact centre operators is no longer how to optimise call handling and email operations.  It’s how to effectively manage customer relationships, proactively and reactively, across multiple live agent and self-service channels (web chat, email, social media, phone, video and more) and throughout the entire customer lifecycle.  It will call for extensive cross-departmental co-operation and a new mindset that is going to challenge every as-pect of traditional contact centre thinking.

2.    Intelligent Contact Routing: Each time we go online, we leave a trail of infor-mation.  Not just about who we are and what we own but about our likes and dis-likes, interests and preferences.  Increasingly, organisations will use this information to improve customer experiences BEFORE customers are connected to agents!  They may, for example,  interpret online questions and identify customers so that they can be routed to the right contact (i.e. a skilled agent or a self-service re-source) or even publish agents’ availability online so that customers can identify the best agents and contact them directly.  Can your organisation route customer con-tacts more intelligently?

3.    Natural Language Speech Recognition (NLSR): By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their business relationships without human interaction according to Gartner – and NLSR will play a massive role in this self-service revolution.  On the web or us-ing IVR, it’s the most natural way for customers to ask the questions they want, in the way that they want, rather than be restricted to finding answers on static Q&A pages or forced into using touch tone IVR systems that require touch tone or single word spoken responses.  Used intelligently, NLSR can also enable intelligent routing and enhance speech verification and speech analytics capabilities.

4.    Machine-to-machine (M2M): The M2M sector will generate service revenues of $42 billion globally by 2019 according to Juniper Research, double the size of today’s market. That essentially means that web-connected devices will be taking control of many service interactions with PCs talking directly to other PCs, cars speaking to computers, medical devices communicating their status to health organisations, and domestic appliances sending service information direct to manufacturers.  It’s a consumer’s dream – proactive customer service that prevents issues becoming faults and takes the hassle out of dealing with time-consuming petty updates and problems.  The issue for organisations is when and how to use M2M technologies. What does a satisfactory M2M service levels look like?  How do you define a suc-cessful outcome?  And how do you ensure you don’t lose personal contact with your customers?

5.    Customer analytics: Over the last few years, there’s been a revolution in man-agement information and analytics – with smart organisations coming to realise that the ‘value’ in analytics lies not in the technology per se, but in how data can be used to generate customer insight, and how that insight can then be used to personal-ise/improve customer experiences, cut costs and reduce Customer Effort.  Speech analytics, data analytics, quality and performance management, CRM data, web analytics, web site visitor behaviour … they are all an important part of this picture.  Moving forward, other technologies will emerge, such as WebRTC, the open source project that effectively turns the Web into an open communication platform. Using WebRTC, customer information (such as account profile, buyer history and browsing data) can be passed automatically to service agents as calls generated from web browsers are connected, empowering agents and speeding up problem resolution.  The question every organisation should now be asking is “how can we use analytics to deliver more personal customer experiences?”

6.    In-app customer service: Around 40% of customer contacts are now made from smart devices according to one leading UK technology solutions provider, a clear in-dication of the huge growth in digital customer engagement.  Technologies such as WebRTC will accelerate this trend, facilitating web chat, callback, click-to-call and click-to-video capabilities within apps running on PCs, smartphone and tablets.   The Mayday function that enables remote support and live product demo capabilities on Amazon Kindle devices is  great example.  With online service available within apps using a single click – and apps automatically linked to online super knowledge bases and Intelligent Virtual Assistants – online service will be increasingly effective, quick and seamless.  So is it something that can give your business a competitive ad-vantage?