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Contact Center 2025: A Revised Roadmap

by Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO, Calabrio - July 24, 2018

Contact Center 2025: A revised roadmap
By: Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO at Calabrio
 
Five years ago, I published a roadmap of how the contact center would evolve as businesses navigated the path to 2020. That piece was based around the prediction that, by 2020, the number of connected “things” is expected to reach 30 billion, and there would be more devices connected to the Internet than people.
 
The vision was a contact center where people are still in control, but machines are exponentially more powerful. Companies that will succeed in 2020 understand that innovation is critical, but also recognize that outstanding customer service is still the backbone for success as companies continue to differentiate based on customer experience.
 
However, with 2020 right around the corner, the vision of the contact center has changed yet again. Looking ahead to 2025, there is a new path forward for companies to build the modern, connected contact center.
 
What’s happening today
 
The contact center has changed exponentially over the past few years. While it is important to look to the future, we must also benchmark where we are today. 2018 marks the year Dimension Data predicted the gap will widen between those organizations leading the transformation of the customer experience and those that have fallen behind. A recent Forrester report also predicted that 30 percent of companies this year will suffer from a decline in growth due to an under-performing customer experience. We’re at an inflection point, and contact center agents are critical to customer experience success.
 
However, with that shift comes new responsibility. From new technology to an increasing number of communication channels, agents are navigating a broader landscape while facing increased pressure from heightened customer expectations. Eighty-three percent of buyers now expect to be immediately routed to the agent who is most knowledgeable about their issue, and they want that same experience via web, social, email, text or whatever their preferred channel might be. To manage the influx, companies are relying on new technology, with 80 percent of businesses planning to implement chatbots by 2020.
 
As technology continues to be integrated into nearly every aspect of daily life, the contact center is challenged to manage the blurred lines where technology ends and humans begin to deliver a personalized customer experience.
 
What about 2020?
 
While the contact center is changing, it’s not changing as quickly as predicted. Companies are still behind where I predicted five years ago. I envisioned a “connected everything” world, and it was thought that consumers would interact with the contact center through their connected cars, appliances or other connected devices. However, “smart” products haven’t completely gone mainstream.
 
According to Gartner, adoption in the connected home space is lower than anticipated, with only 10 percent of today’s households using smart home solutions. So why is that? Privacy and how companies use consumer data are major concerns, with a paltry nine percent of consumers trusting their IoT devices. Not only that, some consumers are still unclear what IoT means, making it difficult to see the benefits.
 
For businesses, there are many factors slowing adoption: acquisitions have changed the market, and no one company has emerged as a winner in the connected device space. Additionally, costs and integration time have been higher and longer than planned. Combine this with a general lack of clear standards around IoT, and the result is a fragmented market that has trouble effectively marketing to consumers.
 
All of this points to slower than anticipated adoption but we’re still heading in the same direction. And there is an upside: it is still a wide-open market, and the companies that lay the right groundwork now will be the ones that win in the end.
 
The 2025 landscape
 
As we approach 2025, the technology landscape will continue to grow and the connected device adoption will increase. Given the influx of devices, artificial intelligence (AI) will be further integrated into our daily lives, fundamentally changing the way customers engage with companies. By 2025, it is estimated that 95 percent of customer interactions will be supported by AI technology—a major disruption to the customer experience industry.
 
The goal of customer experience is to make sure that the customer is not just satisfied, but also loyal, which is difficult to do when even the refrigerator is connected to the web. However, even the most sophisticated AI technologies lack customer service essentials such as emotional intelligence and the ability to contextualize information like human beings. Creating personalized, memorable experiences becomes difficult when more automation and technology is introduced into the buying journey, but it doesn’t have to be.
 
To keep up with changes, the contact center has gone through a digital transformation. By 2025, the contact center will emerge as the centralized hub for both customer interactions and insights that define strategies across the organization. Companies must strike a balance between the convenience of an automated customer experience and the impact of the human touch. Agent roles and responsibilities should become more sophisticated and specialized, resulting in highly trained teams of specialists who can meet customer needs at any time and from anywhere. Part human-part machine, the 2025 contact center will be a customer experience command center.
 

Connected devices, innovative applications of AI and other new technologies are here, it is just taking longer than predicted for adoption. As consumers warm to the idea of connected everything, IoT and AI will become part of our daily lives, which will further cement the place of the contact center at the cornerstone of the customer experience. As customers become more connected, we must act with their best interests in mind. Preparing for the contact center of 2025 requires a fresh look at how our technology and workforce together support the evolving complexity of customer expectations. 

About Tom Goodmanson
Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO of Calabrio, has more than 20 years of experience leading fast growing dynamic software and technology companies. Since assuming the CEO position in 2009, Tom is credited with reinventing the company and its culture around a strategy to expand value and reach through new, innovative products, and remarkable customer experiences. Addressing the market need for simpler solutions to complex customer interaction challenges, Tom’s vision to redefine the standard for software ease-of-use has been instrumental in making Calabrio one of the fastest growing companies in the industry. Prior to his role at Calabrio, Tom was a senior leader in several successful technology-based companies, including Gelco Information Network and Magenic Technologies. Tom currently holds a board seat at Virteva. Tom has a B.S. degree in Accounting from St. Cloud State University.

 

 
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