Contact Center Technology Trends

Thanks to shifting customer preferences and the innovative technologies that empower contact center agents, today’s contact center is virtually unrecognizable from its predecessors. So much change can make it difficult to keep up with the innovations and buzzwords, however, leaving many contact center leaders unsure what to do.

At InterVision, we help companies solve their greatest challenges with the right technology. While every contact center is unique, there are also best practices that can elevate any contact center. And that’s what we’re focused on in this article, in which we will explore trending contact center technologies and their impact on the overall contact center experience.

To consider contact center technology’s present as well as its future, this article is divided into two main sections.

  • First, we’ll survey where we are, by exploring emerging contact center technologies, and how organizations are using them to transform their operations.
  • Then, we’ll turn our eyes toward where we are going, including the trends and technologies that are set to transform contact centers for years to come.

Along the way, we’ll answer questions like:

  • What are the current trends in contact center technology?
  • What does the contact center of the future look like?
  • What are the most impactful contact center technology trends for 2024 and beyond?

Whether you’re looking for the best available technologies or want to be at the forefront of innovation, this article should help answer your most pressing questions about contact center technology.

What Are the Technologies Used in the Contact Center?

The modern contact center is flexible and highly-connected, thanks to the development and integration of increasingly sophisticated (yet intuitive) technologies. These applications not only improve the customer and agent experience, but the overall productivity of the contact center as well. Consider the following contact center technology examples, which have quickly made the leap from being novel ideas to mainstream expectations:

  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): VoIP is replacing outdated on-premises telephony systems around the world, providing greater flexibility and scalability. Rather than relying on landline-based systems, contact centers that leverage internet-based VoIP technology reap many benefits, including reduced costs and increased versatility.
  • Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and Call Routing: ACD enables contact center leaders to implement purposeful, call routing schemes based on agent skills/attributes. Whether they route inbound calls based on agent skills, or based on the type or priority of the customer’s outreach, even basic ACD and call routing features elevate the customer experience.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR): A well-designed IVR caters to customers’ preference to minimize wait time when reaching out to an organization for support. Not only do new trends in IVR technology enhance the customer experience, they also improve the agent experience. That’s because agents can spend more time engaging with customers and solving problems—and less time processing requests that don’t require the human touch.
  • Call Recording and Transcription: Keeping track of customer calls to a contact center are nothing new. For years now, contact center leaders have been recording and monitoring calls. Keeping a call log and monitoring recorded calls is useful for training and development purposes, as well as quality assurance.
  • Analytics and Reporting: It’s true that knowledge is power—especially when that knowledge comes in the form of real-time data. It only takes one actionable insight to start a chain reaction of improvement and optimization. This makes analytics and reporting an absolute must-have for today’s contact centers.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): The customer experience is enhanced when customers feel known and understood. To that end, CRM platforms have come a long way since their emergence over 35 years ago. Originally designed as an alternative to keeping track of prospect and customer details within a spreadsheet or ledger, modern CRMs are almost unrecognizable—in a good way! Today’s CRMs offer an incredibly wide range of features and functions, which grow exponentially through custom integrations with other technologies.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Bots: Within a contact center, AI chatbots can provide customers with quick self-service options for routine requests like help resetting a password. They can also be useful in a support or troubleshooting application. It’s important to note that bots are not meant to replace live agents—rather, bots can handle interactions that don’t require or benefit from human engagement. When used well, chatbots actually enhance the agent experience. And if a chatbot struggles to process a specific request, the interaction can be transferred to a live human.
  • Unified Communications (UC) and UCaaS: Over the years, you may have noticed the term “call center” is being phased out in favor of “contact center.” In other words, the future of call centers is the unified (or omnichannel) contact center. While a call center is set up to process phone calls, contact centers provide multiple channels for customer communication—such as live chat or email. A unified communications solution seamlessly brings together these channels, rather than requiring separate tools and a piecemeal approach. Today, many UC providers’ offerings have evolved into unified communications as a service (UCaaS), which offers even deeper versatility and value for the price.

What Are the Benefits of UCaaS?

In addition to their versatility and overall value, other benefits of a UCaaS solution include:

  • The ability to build out the perfect contact center—for agents, supervisors, and customers. Think of a UCaaS platform as a Swiss Army Knife for communications. The right software provides contact centers with a wide range of features and customization options, as well as a library of custom integrations to extend functionality even further. What’s more, when contact centers leverage a comprehensive UCaaS platform they are equipped to not only meet today’s needs, but ready to scale as well. Ultimately, a UCaaS solution empowers a contact center to:
    • Offer the channels and experience their customers want/expect,
    • Make their agents’ jobs easier to perform, and
    • Provide supervisors and with actionable insights into operations.
  • Pricing that makes sense. When an organization piecemeals their contact center solution together, the costs can really add up over time—especially as new channels and features are needed. A comprehensive, cloud-based UCaaS solution is often much more affordable by comparison—and they are typically offered with subscription-based pricing, which goes a long way toward keeping costs under control.
  • Real-time, dedicated support. Arguably the greatest advantage of UCaaS offerings is the dedicated support that comes with it. Instead of purchasing and implementing individual tools for each channel or feature and hoping they’ll play nicely together, the UCaaS approach means not only unified communications, but ongoing support and troubleshooting too, all bundled together in a cohesive offering. In addition to basic troubleshooting, many UCaaS providers will also work with organizations to train and onboard agents, explore and fine-tune custom integrations, and more.

What Are the Emerging Technologies in Contact Centers?

Three of the most important emerging contact center technologies relate to artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), and the internet of things (IoT). It’s important to note that these are not brand-new technologies, but they are constantly evolving and finding new applications within the modern contact center.

As noted by the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence, these technologies “will lead to more self-service, reduced customer inquiry volume, and better customer experiences.” To address the elephant in the room: no, this does not signal the phasing-out of human agents. In fact, “through the emergence of these technologies and changes, human employees will still be critical to contact center success.”

So, how are these technologies currently being used in contact centers—and what does their future look like? Let’s briefly explore each.

Artificial Intelligence

Contact centers have been quietly integrating AI into their workflows, ever since the emergence of the first ACD platform. By designing effective AI functions, contact centers become more efficient and productive. Not only that, the role of human agents can center more around problem solving and less around simple, routine requests.

What Is the Future of AI in Contact Centers?

There is no question about it: AI plays a vital and ever-increasing role in the contact center of the future. Most people think of improved self-service and chatbots, but new applications are constantly being developed, tested, and implemented. It’s not unreasonable to expect AI to influence more aspects of the contact center experience in the near-term, with current uses already including call routing and sentiment analysis, call recording, and more. Advanced uses include virtual agents, workforce optimization, data sharing, customer journey insights and management… the list goes on.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Today’s contact centers make use of RPA to automate repetitive tasks that don’t require human involvement. RPA applications save both time and money, while freeing up agents for more important and fulfilling tasks. Straightforward examples of RPA in the contact center include handling certain types of customer inquiries and providing relevant information, while more advanced uses include monitoring call center metrics and performance, identifying areas that can be optimized or improved, and streamlining call routing schemes.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT refers to the use of smart, connected devices to collect and process specific types of data—and then deriving actionable insights from that data. For example, let’s say a customer just bought a new printer but after a few days’ use it doesn’t seem to be working properly.

  • In a non-IoT context, the customer would have to contact the company and then try to describe the malfunction—something the average consumer might not be able to describe with the type of detail necessary for effective troubleshooting.
  • If the customer’s printer is IoT-enabled, by contrast, that printer can automatically detect the problem and either diagnose itself or send that information to the organization’s customer service department.

Not every organization will have a compelling use for IoT. But when appropriate, leveraging such capabilities can enhance the contact center experience by providing support agents with accurate and real-time data they can use to more efficiently and effectively help customers.

What Is the Future of Contact Centers?

It’s difficult to imagine a world without contact centers, so it’s safe to assume they’re not going anywhere any time soon—especially those that can adapt with the times. Contact centers of the future must not only embrace established technologies but also be willing to re-think the customer, agent, and contact center experience and experiment with new innovations.

  • The contact center market size, Gartner research indicates, “was valued at USD 4.42 billion in 2022” and was “projected to grow from USD 5.15 billion in 2023 to USD 16.43 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 18% during the forecast period.”
  • Taking a wider focus, the outlook of the global contact center market size is similarly optimistic, with the market projected to near $750 billion by 2030.

Clearly, the market is doing just fine, and with new technologies emerging each year. For contact centers, the future is quite bright!

What Are the Top Priorities for Customer Service and Support Leaders in 2024?

Based on industry research, the two key priorities for this year and beyond are (1) improving the overall contact center experience and (2) optimizing their technology spend.

Improving the Contact Center Experience

As we’ve touched on, improving the contact center experience means understanding the preferences of both customers and agents. Not just thinking about them, but striving to understand them: including their preferences and expectations. As Gartner notes, contact center leaders are focused on “improving the customer experience, employing analytics to understand the voice of the customer, and improving operations.” They also demonstrate “an increasing focus on the value of analytics and self-service technologies that help understand and serve the digital customer.”

Optimizing Technology Spend

By leveraging sophisticated, cloud-based UCaaS solutions, contact centers are transforming how they do business. They’re not only providing a better customer and agent experience, they’re also streamlining operations, consolidating vendors, and reducing their overall costs.

In Terms of Technology, What Are the Trends for Contact Centers in 2024 and Beyond?

To better understand the current contact center landscape, we can look to industry experts for an idea of what to expect in the future When it comes to the most impactful contact center trends, Gartner lists four things that all contact center leaders should be thinking about, paraphrased below:

  • Service organizations are increasingly focusing on the agent experience. They understand that a better agent experience means a better customer experience, so contact centers are thinking more about their staff when evaluating different technologies, experimenting with workflows, and so on.
  • Contact centers are placing more emphasis on understanding their customer journey. Consumer data helps to strategically develop and cater to different customer profiles—including customers whose engagement with the organization is purely digital.
  • Contact center data and analytics provide powerful insights into agent productivity and overall contact center performance. Guesswork and instinct can only take a contact center so far—but actionable data is a game-changer.
  • Artificial intelligence is finding its way into more aspects of the contact center experience. Even something as simple as integrating conversational AI in the development of chatbots is having a profound impact on the contact center experience.

In addition to these four contact center trends for 2024 and beyond, we at InterVision would add a fifth important trend:

  • Modern contact center leaders are increasingly seeing the value of working with a Managed Services Provider (MSP). By taking this approach, contact centers can increase efficiency and reduce costs while still providing a personalized and consistently high-quality experience. The benefits of working with an MSP are wide-ranging, as they provide insights and support along their technological journey. From selecting the right contact center software and services, to helping with agent onboarding and training, support and troubleshooting, even IT infrastructure, there is a lot to be gained.

What’s Holding Your Contact Center Back?

At InterVision, we keep our eyes focused on the future—focused on helping companies find creative,cost-effective solutions for a wide range of challenges. Contact center technology is just one of our areas of focus, but an important one.

In a contact center, the right technology empowers a more positive and productive experience for agents, customers, and supervisors. It helps to keep an organization in-tune with its customers’ expectations and able to adapt to whatever challenges they encounter.

Whether you’re looking to start up a brand-new contact center or bring an existing one into the modern age, we’re here to help. Explore our website to learn more about InterVision or get in touch to see how we can be of service; a better contact center experience awaits.