With the post holiday season cobwebs now well and truly shaken off, we look forwards and predict a host of changes within the contact centre industry over the course of 2016.

Changing the channel.

There will be a shift towards digital channels, rather than voice. While voice will not diminish, it will depend on how other channels are managed. There will be a notable migration to chat and social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, opening up options for communications across a variety of channels. This will show a blurring of lines between self-service and digital channels, and allow users to adopt easier modes of interaction.

Smartening the experience.

The use of knowledge management, the process of gathering, analysing, storing and sharing information, is set to rise. Suggested answers and search intelligence will be fed to both agents and customers depending on the channel, to help them find the information quickly, enhancing the customer experience.

Alongside this, new technologies that can read natural, conversational language will lead to high accuracy inquiry hits, meaning customers avoid having to ask specific questions or spending unnecessary time searching. Advanced natural language Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is now coming of age , making the recognition of required information more efficient and easily identifiable. Eliminating numbered choices in IVR also makes getting to the root of an issue much quicker – the stage of pressing a selection of numbers through long menus in order to talk to the right person is being removed.

Connecting the customer.

When a customer changes channel the norm has been an interruption in communication, which is an opportunity for failure. New solutions will make it easier to keep an interaction going as customers move across channels. So browsing customers on the web will be able to transition to the telephone, and from the telephone to video, allowing a smoother channel to channel experience undisrupted by connectivity issues. Seamlessly connecting between channels and minimising connection breaks will result in customer issues being resolved instead of interrupted.

Converging applications.

In the past, there has been a separation between the CRM and the call centre platform world – this is about to significantly change, with a number of the players beginning to blur between the two worlds. This is because the customer details are in one application (the CRM) which is often the key. Integration is going to get tighter and may even end up as one application at some point.

2016 will welcome a host of new technologies and capabilities, but one theme that runs through all of the above and other factors that hasn’t been covered is the introduction of a number of interactions being managed without the physical human. We are just at the early stages of these industry developments, but it’s where the market is heading in 2016.