By Fred Stacey, Contact Center Technology Consultant, AInCX.com
Together with Christa Heibel and her team at CHCG, we thought it would be helpful to provide an insider’s look at how customer experience is driving technology developments in the contact center industry. The three-part series begins with:
The Current State of Contact Center Technology
It’s an exciting time to be on the front lines of the customer experience revolution, where the contact center industry is finally getting the recognition it has long deserved.
For a long time, technology in the contact center space was made up of hardware-heavy solutions that required significant capital expenditure to purchase or change. Just 20 years ago, most of us were working on green screen applications that required internal and external resources to operate. Telephony was powered by individual hardware boards that allowed computers to speak with telecom to connect voices together more efficiently in the call center. And, predictive dialers and IVRs were the rave, significantly increasing operational efficiencies. Then VOIP came out, and most of us who went through it now realize that we likely jumped the gun a bit on the commercial side by not being ready to truly provide great service along with the cost reductions it promised. The hosted models then started to catch on but, again we got ahead of ourselves with our ability to deliver a truly reliable model out of the gate.
Like all technological advances, these issues have long since been cleaned up, and now we are beginning to see the cloud reach strong adoption rates (although there are still major users leveraging on-premise solutions today).
The biggest change, as I see it, happened about five years ago when industry journals and business-focused media outlets began to recognize and cover the importance of the customer journey. At the time, there already existed multiple channels of communicating with customers, and social media adoption was starting to drive awareness of customer service issues. This was most notable when something went wrong, such as airline debacles. Investors started to recognize the value in customer communications and data and subsequently began putting capital into the Unified Communications market. Coupled with the valuations of CRMs such as Salesforce.com, it became obvious we were in the middle of a run on customer experience technology.
If you were to overlay the recent rise of Artificial Intelligence technology and big data solutions you would see why, over the next 5-10 years, we can expect a lot of noise from the technology space on a large scale. These solutions are providing automation to achieve real, tangible savings, as well as actionable insights into structured and unstructured data in order to drive better decisions.
I believe this is a tremendous time for our industry and for the customer, as we will continue to see advancements in technology that will drive tremendous investment in our market. The acquisitions will continue, and the multipliers for the tech companies will drive the investment.
I welcome your feedback and look forward to seeing where we are over the next few years of the contact center evolution.
About the Author: Fred has spent the last 20 years within the contact center space. Initially, he started as an agent and quickly moved into leadership roles in several contact centers. Fred then focused on opening contact centers, as well as recovering those that were failing. Over the last decade and a half, Fred has held senior operating positions in software and technology companies both in the US and Internationally leading sales, marketing, operations and training. Some of these positions included: VP of Sales and Marketing, Chief Operating Officer in multiple startups, Director of Europe, Middle East and Asia-pacific, and Senior Vice President of Global Sales. Fred uses his years of experience to help contact centers and customer experience organizations with technology selection, operations and go-to-market strategies