There is currently much written about technology, changing patterns of behaviour and how various industries will adapt post-pandemic. But what about the longer view? Once the novelty of hybrid working, increased online shopping and automated experiences become the norm, what might we expect our brave new world to look like?
AI and automation are shaping the customer experience and we are currently living through a true transformation in the way computing power can augment humans to deliver better outcomes. We’re seeing this playing out in many industries and none more so than in the contact centre.
Looking ahead to five years from now, it is almost certain that AI will play a much bigger part in how customers are served and we will see contact centre agents dealing with more specialised issues. We should begin to see mass adoption of virtual assistants as the cost comes down and trust improves. We will also see the way intelligent assistants augment the customer, agent and back-office experiences.
In ten years, we could expect to see the full convergence of AI, automation and the move to messaging and social media as the primary customer engagement platform. This has the potential to fundamentally change the way we think about contact centres. The focus will be on creating customised, flexible and intelligent ways for customers to buy products and services and to get assistance. These experiences will be conversational and increasingly we believe that they will happen within social and messaging platforms. We’ve lived through the period where websites were the primary interface, now we’re in the world of apps and in the future conversations will be the centre of how we engage.
Meanwhile, if Facebook and others are to be believed, the Metaverse has the potential to make multi-channel communication ever more common and complex. In this emerging spatial internet that increasingly blurs the lines between every day and virtual reality, consumer expectations will skyrocket. People’s preferences in the metaverse could be totally different from their real-world behaviours, and shopping habits and back-end systems will need to be able to adjust. For example, even concepts such as business-to robot-to-consumer, where virtual assistants and robots have the potential to own the relationship with the consumer, may become a reality sooner than expected.
For those looking to capitalise on these emerging trends and technologies and take their contact centre to the ‘next level’ it can be somewhat daunting. The real challenge is how to open up the vast commercial potential that solutions like digital engagement and AI can present, while maintaining the customer's experience and controlling the operational complexity that is inevitably introduced.
Businesses that can find a partner able to operate as an extension to their organisation and that can share in its success, will be vital in navigating these waters. Communications are so key to the future of business that building a long-term, trust-based partnership is the best way to ensure future success.