Contact Centres Are Changing


Three fundamental changes are happening simultaneously, impacting the way contact centres operate and the way customers engage with them.

It is safe to say that contact centres have noticeably changed in a relatively brief period, and it is for the better. Contact centres are undergoing a fundamental metamorphosis that has improved how they operate and strengthened their interactions with customers. More meaningful developments are likely on the horizon.

The current level of economic anxiety has reinforced the ever-present need for businesses to maximise the value of each customer while minimising costs. One implication is that the contact centre space is transforming. Three fundamental changes are happening simultaneously, impacting the way contact centres operate and the way customers engage with them.

The concept of a ‘contact centre’ is yielding to the broader concept of a ‘customer experience.’ In the traditional mode of operation, contact centres have tended to be reactive, transactional, and generic. Vendors have introduced a range of capabilities intended to help organisations make the leap from contact centre to customer experience. These capabilities are transforming contact centres from agent-centric to including self-service, from reactive to proactive, from transaction-oriented to relationship-oriented, from generic to deeply personalised, from sluggish to executing in real-time, and from multichannel to omnichannel (and increasingly to digital which centres the customer journey on a data-centric model agnostic of contact media and embracing all modes of customer contact).

In addition to helping drive the transformation to customer experience, vendors are shaping contact centres in another important way. Vendors are integrating contact centre (CCaaS) and collaboration (UCaaS) capabilities so that centre agents can access assistance from internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to better address customer inquiries. When agents work in an environment with separate CCaaS and UCaaS solutions, they need to abandon their contact centre dashboard to access other problem-solving tools. This not only reduces productivity but also impairs the customer experience. With integrated CCaaS and UCaaS platforms at their fingertips, agents can avoid this dilemma.

The customer experience that many organisations can deliver is inherently sub-optimised as some employees interact with customers from outside the contact centre and are not armed with the necessary capabilities. Vendors have recently introduced a twist, expanding the domain of contact centre tools beyond agents to include not only internal SMEs but also this additional class of customer-facing employees. Here are two examples: Cisco’s ‘Webex Customer Experience Essentials’ (currently in beta) is geared towards employees such as nurses and insurance agents among others, while ‘Engage’ from 8×8 (introduced in February 2024) is similarly positioned.

Looking ahead, generative AI (GenAI) is already leaving an indelible mark with a large responsibility for driving the changes already witnessed. As GenAI continues to evolve, so should contact centres.