If a fortune-teller gave you their crystal ball, what’s the first future event you would look at? The winning lottery numbers, the next President of the United States, the identity of your future spouse? Boooooring. True visionaries would use it to answer life’s most important question: How will call centers evolve in 2022?
Like all areas of business, the call center has undergone rapid changes in the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With call volumes increasing in many industries, contact center managers are looking for new tools and processes to increase efficiency and close rates.
This blog shares our top predictions for how the contact center will evolve in 2022, and tips for how you can prepare your strategy today.
What Is a Call Center?
A call center, or contact center, is a team of on-premise or remote agents who handle inbound and outbound phone calls. These calls can be from both new and existing customers.
The purpose of the call center is often one or more of the following: handling inbound sales inquiries, offering customer support, carrying out telemarketing and outbound sales, and conducting market research.
How Have Call Centers Evolved Over the Years?
Traditionally, call centers were limited to handling phone calls. But as technology and consumer communication preferences have evolved, this has changed. There are more ways than ever to contact businesses and, as a result, many call centers handle a broad range of customer interactions. These include email, social media, webchat, and more. These call centers are known as “contact centers.”
In the future, contact centers will need to further evolve to overcome challenges like increased call volumes, a shift to remote work, a lack of actionable analytics, and employee burnout. Check out our top 6 predictions for the future of the call center below.
1. Expectations for the Call Center Experience Will Be Higher Than Ever
Companies are collecting more data from consumers than ever before and, in return, people expect great experiences. When you fail to deliver a seamless customer journey, people are far less likely to do business with you. In fact, a recent study found that 74% of consumers are likely to buy based on experiences alone.
Expectations are especially high for the phone call experience — according to our recent study, 59% of consumers will hang up within 10 minutes of being placed on hold. The stakes are high: if you don’t route your customers to a live agent within this short timeframe, they’ll turn to one of your competitors instead.
2. More Call Centers Will Invest in Seamless Digital-to-Call Experiences
Today, businesses are capturing more data from their consumers than ever before. Most people have accepted this because, in return, they expect to receive personalized experiences. In fact, according to our recent study, 71% of consumers believe businesses already know why they’re calling. You may be wondering, how is that possible? Do they want me to staff my contact center with clairvoyants? Have no fear — there are contact center tools that can help you predict caller and cater to caller intent.
Call tracking solutions automatically capture each consumer’s digital journey before they place a phone call to your business. You can see which paid search keyword, banner ad, social media ad, or other marketing channel drove them to your website. You can also see the path they took through your website before they picked up the phone. Solutions like Invoca automatically send this information to the agent answering the call via a screen pop so they can tailor the conversation accordingly.
For instance, if you’re a travel agent and someone called you from your “Limited Deals on a Trip to Fiji” ad, you could pull up the information on that promotion and be ready to answer questions about it. If you’re a telecom customer service agent and someone called from your billing page, you could proactively pull up their billing information.
3. Call Centers Will Harness Automated QA to Increase Efficiency
Automation has helped businesses improve the efficiency of nearly every aspect of their operations. Call centers have been slower to adopt automation than other business functions because it was often viewed as a cost center with carefully controlled and often reduced budgets. This approach resulted in call centers relying on outdated on-premises technology that hasn’t kept up with today’s data and automation demands. In fact, 50% of call center managers say that they don’t have enough automation in their contact center tools. Taking advantage of automation in 2022 could be the difference-maker that puts you ahead of the competition.
One of the most difficult and time-consuming processes in the modern contact center is quality assurance. Your QA team (or team of one) must manually listen to phone calls to judge their quality. This process is not only time-consuming but fraught with human error. Not to mention, the average QA team can only review a small portion of calls, leading to inaccuracies — they may be catching your best agents on their worst days or vice versa.
To automate and scale QA, companies are using conversation intelligence platforms like Invoca. With this solution, contact centers can use AI to automatically score each sales call. You can set your own criteria for call scoring, such as if the agent used an appropriate greeting, mentioned a current promotion, asked for the sale, and mentioned a recommended upsell. This ensures you’re making accurate judgments based on all your calls, not a small sampling.
In addition, agents get access to their scores in real time, so they can track their own performance. They’ll see which areas they’re nailing and which need a little extra work. This gives them transparency into their performance and the autonomy to take the right steps to improve it.
4. Call Centers Will Boost Agent Performance with Call Transcriptions and Virtual Coaching
Coaching plays a critical role in the development of your contact center agents. With the steady hand of a seasoned manager, you can help agents identify areas of improvement that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. You can also give them tactics to practice and monitor their future calls to ensure they’re continuing to progress.
But the traditional method of one-on-one agent coaching is difficult to scale as contact centers grow. It’s also hard to give consistent and timely feedback as contact centers are increasingly relying on remote agents distributed across time zones.
In 2022, contact center managers will increasingly turn to virtual coaching methods. Invoca supports virtual coaching by giving managers access to each agent’s call recordings and transcriptions. They can then comment on specific moments from each call within the Invoca platform and tag the agent. The agent receives the feedback in real time, without having to wait for their next one-on-one — they can then adjust their approach on the fly.
5. Intent-Based Call Routing Will Increase Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction
Customers have higher experience expectations than ever, and many call centers are dropping the ball before the caller even gets a chance to speak to an agent. According to our recent study, 79% of people are rerouted at least once when they call a company. In addition, 53% say they need to repeat their reason for calling multiple agents. If you’re not sending callers to the right agent on the first try, you’re already setting them up for a bad experience. This will make it harder for you to earn their business and their long-term loyalty.
To exceed customer expectations in 2022, cutting-edge call centers are intelligently routing each phone call to the best agent to handle it. Tools like Invoca can track the webpage, ad, and other interactions that drive each call and automatically send it to the most relevant agent to handle the inquiry. For example, calls from a billing page get routed to customer service, and calls from a search ad touting a new promotion get routed to sales. Calls from a cancellation page can even be routed to retention specialists to reduce churn. We expect to see more call centers use intelligent call routing in 2022 to reduce hold times and transfers and increase customer satisfaction.
6. Cloud-Based and Remote Contact Centers Will Become the Norm
In a recent survey, 65% of respondents said they wanted to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic, and 31% said they wanted a hybrid remote work environment. That’s 96% who desire some form of remote work! If you don’t cater to employees who want a more flexible working environment, you’ll likely face high turnover rates and recruiting difficulties in 2022.
Building a remote call center takes planning, preparation, and — most importantly — the right cloud-based tools. You’ll need to ensure you have a cloud-based system in place to route calls, software to help you score calls remotely, tools to help agents track their performance in real-time, and the right process for agent coaching.
Once your cloud-based infrastructure is in place, your employees will have everything they need to do their jobs and you’ll have the right insights to help them grow. And, from there, the benefits will compound. You’ll have more satisfied employees, lower turnover costs, and better talent since you can recruit across time zones.