In this third of three articles, Simon Dillsworth from Teleperformance outlines his own views on how contact centres might look in future…
In the previous two articles about the future of the contact centre I have explored how multichannel customer support is creating many new career opportunities for people working in customer service. The market is changing and we will start seeing a need for people with product and channels skills – so agents will be better skilled and more valuable to the brands they work with.
But how will customer contact start changing a few years into the future? We can already see how social media is changing the interaction with customers and though many brands are struggling to achieve the perfect omnichannel, where every contact channel is seamlessly integrated, at least we know this is the objective.
I believe that the next few years will see an important improvement in the way all these new channels are supported, particularly in connecting them together so that a customer who has emailed earlier will find that an agent knows about the email when they call.
But I also believe that there are going to be some shifts in how customers are supported, particularly in industries such as retail where customers have a need for information before purchase.
Two technologies that I think are worth watching are augmented reality (AR) and wearable technology. They might sound new and unusual, but many people are already engaging with these types of technologies already.
If you have used the Google SkyMap on your phone to find where Mars can be found in the night sky then you have already experienced augmented reality. It’s when additional information is overlaid on live video images, such as indicating planet names and locations.
If you take a run and record the distance using a device clipped to your clothes or shoes then you are already engaging with wearable technologies. However, this market will increase dramatically this year now that Google Glass is available to the general public.
Just imagine a scenario where a brand combines these technologies. As you enter an unfamiliar supermarket, you can ask Glass (or a rival system) where the eggs are located and inside your glasses will be visual guides pointing you the right way.
This might be applied in a clothes store, where you can immediately see how you might look in an outfit without even needing to get changed.
These technologies are going to dramatically increase the number of enquiries made on brands because they will no longer require the use of a phone or website – the customer will be seamlessly connected all the time. However, many of the responses to these queries will be automated and the contact centre of the future will need to be redesigned with this automated information buffer preceding any actual contact with a person.
The grit that might prevent this future vision becoming a reality will be ensuring that privacy can be protected. Customers asking for help using a wearable device will need to be comfortable sharing their exact location with a brand. Sharing this kind of data in real time may lead to the obvious desire to advertise to individuals – such as pushing time-limited offers to customers walking past a shop because they have indicated that they like the brand.
Will brands balance the need for a new type of customer service with the development of new ways for customers to ask for service? Only time can tell, but at least we can foresee some of these issues in advance.
How do you think the contact centre of the future will look? Leave a comment here or tweet me on @simondillsworth.
Photo by Tom licensed under Creative Commons