Contact centres beware: the future is zero contact
Aquarium Software, the contact centre technology platform integrator, predicts that to future generations, the contact centre will be an alien and antiquated concept. Shifting paradigms will lead to call centres as we know them today becoming a thing of the past with organisations gradually delegating the customer journey to those who understand it best of all – the customer.
“The future is going to be about increased customer contact, but not in the traditional sense, says Aquarium’s Managing Director, Ed Shropshire. “In much the same way that many of us no longer visit our bank but conduct all transactions online, the same is likely to be true for the vast majority of contacts with organisations; even the highly complex ones.”
According to Aquarium, customer service will not be delivered from a ‘dedicated’ departmental silo, as it has been for the last 60 years. “This is an outdated model that has its roots in twentieth century thinking and the business needs of the industrial age,” says Ed.
The technology exists to empower consumers to drive their own relationships and buying behaviour with the businesses and services they are connected with, in the way they wish. “The long term business winners will be those who put control into the hands of the customer” says Shropshire. The good news for the call centres not embracing technology is that these changes may take a decade to be fully implemented, but make no mistake, they are coming and the most forward thinking contact centres are the ones that will thrive in this new age.
The concept of customers having control is not a new one. However, for Aquarium, it is much more far reaching than merely widening customer choice of communication channels with contact centres; that has been a large focus over recent years with businesses developing their choice of channels, such as email, SMS, SM, web chat, and phone for customer queries.
“Despite this drive for a wider channel menu, the same process of responding to customers’ queries remains, with the contact centre representative needing to source information from, or refer the customer to, a variety of organisational departments, quite often making the customer take time away from what they are doing, and lacking insight into the full picture of the customer’s needs and motivations.” Shropshire says.
“What we will see in the future is full integration,” he adds. “This means assimilating intelligence across the whole organisation to develop effective customer and stakeholder interactions by predicting the needs of the individual customer, enabling effective engagement and, in turn, informing key business objectives.”
According to Shropshire, we are moving towards a much more predictive model of customer journey management, where businesses will be fully informed by extensive, real-time intelligence about individual customers at any given point. He doesn’t see this just as a possible avenue of progress, rather as a development of certainty within the next five to ten years.
“Companies that introduce technology platforms which integrate and streamline all historic and active intelligence about each customer’s journey and situation, which are seamlessly accessed across the whole organisation, will be the ones who thrive in tomorrow’s markets.” He says.
Aquarium Software develops and hosts a cloud platform solution designed to integrate data, deliver robotic process automation and produce intelligent management information. Currently implemented within contact centres, the insurance sector, and professional service firms across the UK, Europe and North America.