Key trends for contact centers in 2015

Achieve better customer interactions with these 2015 trends in contact center technology.

The modern-day contact center has one main purpose: to provide the best customer service to those who call seeking answers and assistance. Technology continues to evolve that allow companies to strive toward that goal. Here are some key trends in contact center technology in 2015 that businesses should be aware of:

"The question now becomes about how cloud solutions should be deployed."

1. Cloud telephony
A big player in the communications industry is cloud technology. By using the cloud to connect phone systems rather than the traditional landline, companies can eliminate high monthly bills and enhance productivity all with one investment.

Because the benefits of implementing cloud telephony in the contact center are becoming more widely known, the question is no longer one of whether or not companies should invest. The question now becomes about how cloud solutions should be deployed. According to frequent No Jitter contributor Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at communications consulting firm McGee-Smith Analytics, hybrid cloud deployments can work in contact centers.

"Today I think the growing notion of hybrid means I can have a mixed environment within an application," she said. "I can have a contact center application where 80 percent of that is premises-based, but there are elements that I choose to deploy in the cloud."

Those elements can include voice-over-Internet-protocol solutions.

2. Unified communications
Along with cloud telephony comes unified communications and an omnichannel presence. With UC solutions, contact centers can take their cloud telephony systems and integrate them into the rest of their communications portfolios. Messaging, phone calls and emails can all exist on one platform, eliminating the need for separate systems and giving call center employees the right tools to complete sales and service calls more quickly and accurately.

Businesses have shown that they're ready to invest in UC solutions. The global market is forecasted to grow at a compound annual rate of 14.08 percent from 2014 to 2019. Furthermore, TMCNet contributor Tracey Schelmetic wrote that UC can boost contact center presence and strengthen first-call resolution.

3. All-digital strategy
Gone is the time when center employees used landlines and paper records to conduct service calls. According to Customer Experience Report contributor Paul Sweeney, customer interactions should be based on a digital strategy that focuses on the concept of the customer's journey into and through the contact center. Part of that digital strategy hinges on the ability of employees to provide a cohesive customer service experience.

"Being able to see the historical interactions with customers, and being able to make intelligent predictive recommendations will again distinguish the high performing organizations from the also-rans," he said.

The ability to view past interactions and tailor conversations based on those previous chats requires multi-channel abilities. If a customer had opened a chat window on their Web browser the first time they contacted the center, and then decided to follow up with a phone call, contact center employees need to be able to bring up all forms of prior communication on one interface. In this way, they can best serve callers and get them the solutions they need.

By implementing an all-digital strategy, call centers can strengthen customer service interactions.By implementing an all-digital strategy, call centers can strengthen customer service interactions.

It's obvious that these three key trends are linked by a need for contact centers to invest in phone and messaging technologies that are multi-channel and provide the right information for employees to do their jobs. When asked what 2015 would hold for the contact center, Omer Minkara, a research director at Aberdeen Group, told Smart Customer Service that companies would be clamoring to learn exactly how to implement these types of omnichannel strategies. So far this year, the prediction is holding strong – as these trends show.