Predictions are certainly interesting, particularly when you read them years after they are made. Yet predictions are also an important exercise in developing roadmaps for an industry. Without a vision, it is difficult to create strong strategies to move an industry forward.
There are many organizations that provide predictions, some for fun, but most as a means to reveal forces that are changing the way the world works, in business and beyond. Gartner is one such organization. Recently they released their predictions for IT organizations. Granted, not all aspects of a contact center are IT centric, but there are a multitude of contact center functions highly impacted by technology. When you add the virtual model and begin to think about the technological impact, it makes sense to pay close attention to technology predictions. Some of Gartner’s predictions that will impact contact centers include:
By year-end 2017, at least seven of the world’s top 10 multichannel retailers will use 3D printing technologies to generate custom stock orders.
- Impact– at first glance, this appears to primarily impact production and shipping. But the contact center will almost be reeling from the potential for fulfilling orders via 3D printing. Customers will no longer have to be concerned that an item they want is no longer being manufactured. The retailer can simply create a replacement part via 3-D printing. Let’s use a vacuum cleaner as an example. What if a customer has a vacuum cleaner that is old but still works. All she needs is a new canister. In today’s environment, that replacement canister may not be available simply because the vacuum is old and it is not worth the cost to keep making the parts. But with 3-D printing, one can be easily made and shipped. Now agents must keep tabs on old devices, old models and help customers through adding replacement parts. And that is a simplistic scenario. Agents must have access to better data and technology just to keep up with the potential 3D printing brings to the retail industry.
By year-end 2015, inadequate ROI will drive insurers to abandon 40 percent of their current customer-facing mobile apps.
- Impact–Once customers become accustomed to something, particularly in the mobile space, they do not want to give it up. Now insurers will have to decide whether or not to replace the app. If not, then agents will be receiving lots of transactions and managing frustrated customers. These types of moves not only increase the number of calls, but also decrease customer satisfaction. Agents will bear the brunt of this prediction.
By 2016, poor return on equity will drive more than 60 percent of banks worldwide to process the majority of their transactions in the cloud.
- Impact–Cloud processing may be readily adopted in many industries, but banking is one that has been typically slow to adopt new technology, often due to the discomfort of their patrons. Banks have to accommodate customers of all ages, and maintain extremely high levels of security and compliance. Therefore, it is more difficult for the banking industry to make changes. This will be a big one.Customers are not typically thrilled with the idea that their bank could somehow be compromised. There are still many customers who are uncomfortable with the idea of cloud technology, and certainly not happy about having their banking transactions processed in the cloud. Contact centers will be inundated with transactions about what this means for each consumer. From security questions to benefits, agents will need to have a thorough understanding of this technology in order to provide customers with the feeling of peace required to make this transition.
By 2017, 15 percent of consumers will respond to context-aware offers based on their individual demographics and shopper profiles.
- Impact–The customer experience movement will not slow down in the coming years. The strong belief customers have regarding their own personal experience coupled with their ability to voice it easily via social media empowers them. Empowered customers have high expectations, not the least of which is to consistently receive individualized service. The marketing and advertising space is acutely aware of the power this brings. It also brings a new level of contact center service that must be met.Agents will require higher levels of access to customer information in order to ensure an individualized customer experience. The need to share data across departments will become even more crucial and the ability to quickly gather, analyze and respond to that same data is also critical. Agents will become more like ambassadors, ensuring that the customers are happy. From a technology standpoint, a strong virtualization strategy is necessary to ensure the agents can do their jobs.
These are only a few of the IT predictions Gartner has recently released for 2014. However, these do have a strong impact on the contact center, for both agent recruiting and training planning and technology adoption and virtualization strategy development. It will be the strong combination of these factors that ensure the positive experiences customers desire and will demand in the future.