Callmedia’s Neil Terry outlines seven key areas that can help you get ahead and differentiate your customer experience over the next year.

One key truth in the contact centre landscape is that customers are ever more demanding and have higher expectations than ever before.  In order to really delight consumers (and stand out against the competition), organisations must keep looking for ways to improve and fine tune their customer experience and customer service.

After speaking to a number of Callmedia contact centre customers throughout January, I’ve noted seven key areas that organisations are looking to develop further in 2015 and beyond.

1.    Next generation voice & video

WebRTC and Lync (soon to be Skype for Business) are growing in recognition.  This technology opens up the ability for customers to quickly communicate directly from the company website.  Keeping your website up to date and integrated with your contact centre is going to be essential for providing a great experience for your consumer.  Allowing the customer to quickly engage with the contact centre, and being able to automatically supply any relevant details over to the agent are all things which can be achieved when combining voice and data using tools like Lync or WebRTC.

2.    Offer multi-channel options and grow multi-skilled agents

Although the most popular communications media is still voice (especially for older demographics), followed by email, there is a real growth in demand for consumers to be able to interact with the company via web chat, website, mobile, social media, Skype (or basically any channel of their choice).  Giving the consumer different options to engage with you, simply and in an effective, integrated way is going to be key differentiator.

No one channel is right or wrong, and to reach the widest range of consumers you need to offer the options your consumers choose to use.  Consider your target audience and the importance of different channels for them.  For example, 47% of customers will not call when they have a problem, turning first to the internet and social media and picking up the phone as a last resort.

3.    Proactive customer experience

Customers expect every contact centre agent they engage with to know the history of their account and interactions and they don’t like having to repeat themselves.

On the other hand, the contact centre agents must have a good understanding of both the customer and the media which the customer uses and engage with them on. There are different skills to responding on different channels and this can hugely influence the customer experience.

4.    Mobile & tablet growth as a platform for engaging with contact centres.

With mobile technology becoming ever more accessible and ubiquitous, the way people engage with contact centre is changing. Rather than just supplying “contact us” information to discuss a problem, companies that want to stand out will start providing a more integrated and consumer centric experience either from a dedicated mobile application or from a mobile friendly website. This also will need to see integrated technologies like WebRTC or Lync/Skype for Business.

5.    Tailored experiences

Using big data and analytics to adjust the experience a customer receives to one which is unique to them is going to be a key growth area. For example, when you call into a contact centre you receive a more personalised queuing experience, hearing relevant offers and discounts on services or products which you have recently been browsing for while you wait.

6.    Knowledge management

Demand for higher skilled agents that can handle various different types of contact will grow over the coming years. Agents will deal with less common issues, and supporting agents with better knowledge management/knowledge base systems are going to be vital to delivering a fast and efficient customer experience. Knowledge management solutions that allow agents to quickly supply knowledge or template responses will be vital.

7.    All-in-one contact centre software

Demand for a platform that can do it all in an efficient, pleasurable and meaningful way which helps support companies CX programs is growing momentum. Companies don’t want lots of suppliers; they want one solution that does it all.

The ideal all-in-one solution is media agnostic, and allows inputting of all media channels into the ACD or queuing engine. It ensures the media gets routed to the most appropriate agent for handling. It provides full collaboration and history of the contact and all the management information in one place. It also offers self-servicing functionality like IVR.

Make sure you investigate and understand how your contact centre solution maps to the demands and needs of your customer now and in the future.