Technology is transforming the way organizations interact with customers—but even the most promising digital tools still work best when paired with skilled humans.
High-tech solutions like blockchain and automation will unquestionably reshape the contact center industry in the coming years. Yet this digital disruption is not expected to replace people entirely. Instead, contact center operators are seeking tech-savvy, customer service-oriented talent to work alongside robots.
This dual focus on talent and digital strategy is fueling momentum in the U.S. contact center sector, where growth is currently outpacing the global industry. Between 2012 and 2016, contact center employment grew in U.S. markets of all sizes, with average hourly wages jumping 5.6 percent, according to JLL’s 2018 Contact Center Outlook.
“U.S. contact centers are thriving in part because our highly skilled workforce is ready to answer the call of digital disruption,” says Tadd Wisinski, Managing Director and Contact Centers Group Co-Lead, JLL. “Contact center operators are shifting their location strategies to support their push to attract skilled employees adept at using technology—and they’re finding the talent they need in multiple cities across the U.S.”
Digital disruption and the human touch
Chat, email and social media continue to be popular communication methods in contact centers, but even newer digital technologies are rapidly adding to the mix. Contact center operators are using automation to lead customers through an initial prescreening and simple Q&A—decreasing the time it would normally take to address basic problems and questions with a human customer services representative.
Artificial intelligence (AI) software offers benefits too, as it can reduce the frustration customers often feel over having to repeat themselves and help service agents pinpoint solutions faster. In particular, AI-fueled chatbots are becoming increasingly adept at managing customer questions and requests—and they’re available to answer customer queries on-demand, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Organizations as diverse as Allstate and Marriott International are adopting chatbots as part of their customer service to support customers who would rather communicate online.
More emerging technologies are on the horizon. Blockchain, which provides a digitized and decentralized record of transactions, offers the potential to further disrupt contact centers, says Wisinski. “Blockchain can provide transparency and save time and effort typically associated with processing transactions, but there remains significant uncertainty about the technology that needs to be overcome.”
Each of these digital game-changers can help a contact center operate more efficiently—but they will also push the industry toward higher-skilled talent.