The Top 5 Contact Center Trends for 2019

Contacting a company in the hopes of resolving an issue only to receive less-than-impressive service is likely a scenario you’ve personally encountered at least once in your lifetime. It should come as no surprise that negative customer experience with a company’s contact center poses a huge threat to the consumer’s loyalty to that product or brand. Customers have more options than ever, and competition is fierce.  Most businesses understand what’s at stake each time a customer needs to reach out, so what’s being done to ensure more positive experiences?

While CSAT scores and KPIs still rule for some companies, others are taking a more customer-centric approach that has managed to completely alter the landscape of what contact centers could be. Zappos is a perfect example of this. They’ve eschewed the typical game plan of emphasizing the importance of low call times by instead focusing on the opposite: high call times. Taking the pressure of finalizing customer calls as quickly as possible off the table allows agents to focus on really connecting with the customer and resolving their issues.   I call this the “love the one you’re with” approach.

While many companies may not strive to recreate the Zappos customer experience model, most want to continue evolving to meet consumers’ needs in a way that builds brand loyalty. Here are five trends to consider employing to elevate the level of service offered by your business in 2019.

  1. Pick and Choose Technology and Tools Wisely

 New advances appear almost daily, so realizing your company’s needs, and which tools will meet them, is key to ensuring the business isn’t left in the dust with outdated systems or weighed down with bloate, technology. Some industries, such as healthcare, are seeing benefits from utilizing newer digital care coordination technologies. Although some industries are reporting increased efficiency from new technology such as this, it doesn’t automatically mean utilizing it would bring the same benefits to your business. Think of what your employees need most to assist customers best, and then seek out solutions that will fulfill your company’s own specific set of needs.  Consider your administration staff, clients and overall ease of usability when selecting technology.

  1. Don’t Overlook the Importance of Employee Engagement

With the customer experience always top of mind, it can be all too easy to overlook those who most directly influence consumer satisfaction. Your agents are invaluable assets with great insight into the needs, wants and frustrations of your customer base. It’s true that the happiness of your employees often correlates with the happiness of your customers. Ensure agents have the tools they need to be successful, including equipment, training, and thoughtful feedback. To have the largest impact, feedback shouldn’t focus solely on KPIs, but rather also on individual experiences that can be discussed.   Consider focusing more on coaching effectiveness and ensuring your leaders are equipped to transfer knowledge effectively.   Confidence through knowledge makes a world of difference in your people, and you only get it through effective training and coaching.  Your people aren’t interacting with your C-Suite every day – they are interacting with your customers!  Involve your frontline employees in CX problem-solving.  Your employees (and customers) already know everything YOU need to know – just ask them what you can do better and actively listen to the response.

  1. Fine Tune System Connectivity

In today’s market, many companies want to give customers various outlets for contact.  Most brands offer options of connecting via phone, email, chat, social media and SMS.    An omnichannel solution is a key contributor to positive customer experience and low customer effort.   Best practices for applying self-service options are –

  1. Make self-serve effortless, comfortable and inviting
  2. Provide multiple options – insure self-serve is not the only option available
  3. Content consistency across all channels and refresh content frequently
  4. Ask for customer feedback about your self-serve options using surveys or other feedback tools
  5. Stop making your customers repeat themselves! Use intelligent, integrated technologies that ensure a frictionless experience and secure information pass-through. It’s frustrating for all involved, hindering the customer experience when the same information needs to be continuously repeated, and the customer journey isn’t fully known or readily available.

Efficiencies improve when the systems within contact centers are easily interchangeable and communicate with each other.    Fine tuning is not a one-time event – establish a rhythm and a consistent update strategy that’s aligned with your marketing plan to make the most of your omnichannel approach.

  1. Consider the Benefits of Remote Work

More and more employees yearn for work that can be completed remotely. With the benefits it can bring to a customer-focused environment, it’s in the best interest of many businesses to consider the possibilities.  Hiring more remote agents, or allowing those already employed to work away from the typical office environment not only frees up precious space in the contact center and lowers costs,  it improves productivity by an average of 24%!  Remote employees have 82% lower stress levels and 69% lower absenteeism.  Distractions like water cooler gossip, impromptu meetings, and loud colleagues are a non-issue.    Happy employees = Happy Customers and nothing have more of an impact on customer experience than agent experience!

  1. Invest in the Type of Engagements Customers Want

It has long been believed that when given the option, customers do not speak to another human to resolve their issue, even though surveys continue to point to this being untrue. CIO reported that 80 % of customers who pay for TV would prefer to resolve issues via digital channels such as chat or email.  This emphasizes that many companies aren’t tuned in to the customer experience and voice of the customer. Even though it seems that most consumers still reach out through calling, other means of communicating such as chat, messaging and text to continue to experience exponential growth.

Whether your focus this year will be on inbound, outbound, quality, analytics and experience management or live chat services, Etech has a wide range of solutions meant to elevate the customer experience effectively.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help meet your company’s needs.

This blog was first published on LinkedIn.

Shawndra Tobias

Shawndra Tobias

Shawndra Tobias is Etech’s SVP of Operational Excellence. She has been with Etech since 2000 and has served in various roles, including OSS Reporting Specialist, Account Leader, Project Manager, Sr. Director of Operations and VP of Customer Experience. In her current role, she determines operational strategies by collecting, cleaning, and analyzing interaction data that assists clients in delivering an optimized customer experience and enhanced performance.

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