4 emerging technologies that could transform your contact center

Enhanced features and functions can improve customer journey and boost security

by Mike Rajich, Director of Contact Center and Enterprise Routing Product Management, AT&T

Thanks in large part to technology, contact centers have evolved over the years.

Centers have shifted from simple phone banks to departments that provide all types of customer service across integrated digital channels. Technology continues to shape how businesses interact with clients and buyers, creating new channels for communication and new opportunities to deliver a more consistent and personalized customer journey.

Here are four emerging trends and technologies that could change the way contact centers operate.

1. Omnichannel interaction will increase

In the past, most customers phoned in to a contact center and stayed on the line until their issue was resolved.

Not so today. Now, it’s not unusual for consumers to start a conversation with one of your representatives through a chat feature on your website, switch to a video session for more help, and then follow up a day later with a call from their smartphones.

Taking an omnichannel approach in your call center can tie together the data from all those channels to deliver a seamless, consistent customer experience.

With an omnichannel method, all of the information from the channels your customers use — email, chat, social media, even a visit to a brick-and-mortar store — is directed to a single queue. Your representatives have access to all the data from each interaction with a customer, no matter how contact was initiated.

Additionally, clients can switch between mobile, chat, text, video and web or use channels simultaneously and still get an integrated, personalized customer experience. That’s because with an omnichannel approach, your representatives have all the information they need to respond in a sophisticated, intuitive manner.

2. The Internet of Things will offer new communication channels and new insights into customer behavior

Investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) isn't just about connecting things and technology.

The impact IoT devices could have on customer service is enormous. The insights, behaviors and interaction derived from that connection can provide the value to your business and, ultimately, to your customers.

For example, it could mean connecting to your customers through new devices and using the data collected to improve your customer-service processes. Calls could be resolved faster, and customer wait times could drop.

3. Web Real Time Communications will help make customer service better, faster

Interactive channels can improve the contact center experience for both agents and customers. But some of these enhancements require users to install browser plug-ins or other software. And when customers call in with questions or problems, you don’t want them to have to wait on a download.

Web Real Time Communications (Web RTC) is a set of protocols that allows software programs to communicate with each other in real time through a standard web browser or mobile application. Web RTC enables online functionality like voice, video, chat and email interaction without requiring your customers to install add-ins or new apps. It also makes it possible for customers to use microphones and cameras on mobile devices to capture or demonstrate issues for your agents.

Agent co-browsing and access to advanced features provides deep integration and context based support that allows quick problem resolution and reduces average handling time. That kind of best-in-class customer service can help your company gain a competitive edge.

4. Voice biometrics may improve security and the customer experience

Even as companies take steps to guard their IT environments against a growing barrage of cyberthreats, many are neglecting another vulnerable area: their contact centers.

Social engineering calls to contact centers — in which fraudsters pose as customers and try to trick agents into revealing confidential customer information — are on the rise, according to industry experts, particularly at financial institutions, insurance companies and other businesses that store sensitive data.

Voice biometrics can help your agents know exactly with whom they’re talking when they answer a customer call. This technology can recognize voice characteristics passively and verify callers in real time, whether they need to speak to one of your representatives or are using your interactive voice response system.

Customers who agree to biometric verification will create a voice print that will be used to authenticate their identity on subsequent calls. They won’t notice the verification is taking place unless there’s an issue with caller authenticity. What they will notice, however, is that they may have to answer fewer security questions to get information about their account.

Predictive techniques and pattern-analysis capabilities in voice biometrics solutions can also help improve your security. By comparing your callers’ voiceprints against a database of known fraudster voiceprints, voice biometrics programs can help you identify and track potential thieves before they steal your data.

Considerations when adopting an emerging technology

Before you add any new functions or features to your contact center, be sure to get a good sense of what changes would have maximum effect. Taking these three steps can help you assess how emerging technologies could improve the contact center experience for your customers and your agents:   

  • Develop a thorough understanding of customer requirements and goals for service. The voice of the customer is the most dependable source.   
  • Determine which channels optimize efficiency, and focus your efforts there. Customers frequently return to channels that provide fast resolutions, and enhancing those with new features and functionality can improve customer accessibility and loyalty.   
  • Research a trend’s evolutionary path to figure out where it falls in Gartner’s hype cycle methodology and whether the investment makes good business sense.

Contact center solutions

AT&T has decades of experience developing solutions using emerging technologies.

For example, we’re working with other tech leaders to develop IoT solutions that will help cities deliver better services to residents. And in 2015, AT&T became the first U.S. carrier to launch commercial support for Web RTC.

Like emerging technologies, contact center technology and consulting services can help efficiently connect your customers with service and support, reduce costs, and help your agents deliver an exceptional experience. AT&T contact-center architects, data scientists and customer-experience analysts draw on their industry-leading expertise to help you:   

  • Assess your overall contact center strategy   
  • Get valuable insight into when, why and how often your agents initiate sessions from each channel   
  • Save money by identifying technology and process problems and inefficiencies   
  • Identify issues that might affect the quality of customer interactions

AT&T’s consulting services draw upon the company’s extensive experience in contact-center solutions, including:   

  • Over 30 years offering 800/toll free and advanced feature services   
  • Over 20 years providing contact center premises- and cloud-based solutions   
  • Over 15 years supplying managed IVR services   
  • Partnerships with other leading solution providers   
  • More than a decade of experience as a technology leader in developing IoT solutions