The end of the calendar year often brings with it the inexorable look into the crystal ball. It seems everywhere you look there is someone touting that they know what the future holds. So, as many of us are starting to look ahead to 2019 and beyond, especially since we likely already finalized our budgets and plans for next year, I thought I would add my bold predictions.
But first, a couple of thoughts on predictions. Have you ever noticed that people hardly write about the mistakes they made looking into the future back when it was the future? Most predictions don’t come with a look back at how previous predictions fared. I think that means that most of us are terrible at making predictions. That ends with me, with this article. Go ahead and command Siri, Alexa, or “Hey GooGoo” to remind you to read this post again in the future and see how I did, I know I will.
Secondly, most predictions are hard to measure. Mine are no different. That way I reserve the right to claim I was right even though the mountain of evidence will suggest otherwise.
So, now that we have that out of the way, I offer you my three predictions for the future of the Contact Center. For your reading pleasure, a small, medium, and large prediction.
Artificial Intelligence will revolutionize customer care, but, in the near-term it will not be from bots with human sounding voices and personas, but with technology that helps frontline team members navigate complex resources or determine effective responses. Artificial Intelligence is already here in this arena, no need to wait for the future for this.
Text messaging will take center stage. I have been banging the text messaging drum for a few years. Consumer to business text messaging is simple to deploy, and easy for customers to understand. Every time I speak about this subject people are eager to remind me that texting can’t be done in some industries - inevitably, banking and healthcare (both of which I have worked in) are mentioned. Progressive companies and inventive solution providers will find a way to balance giving customers what they want: ease of doing business along with regulation compliance and privacy. Customer care interactions are increasingly mobile first, and often, mobile only. Text messaging is the most ubiquitous feature on smart phones, and consumers are already starting to get used to using it as a support channel. By this time in 2019 you will see far more companies offering person-to-person text messaging in some fashion.
Let’s talk about voice. Yes, as in phone calls from actual people. Voice will not go away. In fact, the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. While consumers are continuing to move to self-service and digital channels in increasing numbers, voice still accounts for the vast majority of contacts in most industries. LinkedIn is crowded with “experts” that predict voice volumes will dwindle to nothing in the next few years, while contact center leaders are busy trying to introduce new channels and not ignoring the voice channel. But what if we’re thinking about this all wrong? As businesses look to differentiate their offerings amongst their competitors by focusing on customer experiences, I believe that some companies will invest more in voice channels. And as a by-product of that, I also believe that in the future customers will use voice more. That will happen both because companies will make the experience much easier than it is today, and because, sometimes, what’s old is new again. You are welcome to call me crazy, but allow me to remind you of the resurgence of vinyl albums and fountain pens. Futurists also predict that a child born in 2017 will never learn to driveand that driving by humans may be relegated to private parks. I am certainly no luddite, I appreciate new technology, but am also fascinated with the trend of some people preferring to stay a little old-school. I think we’re at least a decade away from this, so please wait until 2028 or so before you write to me (or call me) to tell me I was wrong.
See you in the future.