If your contact center is planning for the future, be sure to make employee experience and getting the right technology in place top priorities.
We recently participated in a discussion with two industry experts that focused on megatrends that will impact contact centers in 2022. The conversation identified several contact center trends that, if addressed effectively, can lead to the transformation of two critical elements of operational success: people and technology.
2022 just might be The Year of the Contact Center Employee. Workers are gaining strength in the workplace, driven by social changes, labor shortages, and a shift in personal priorities. These factors are megatrends that require contact centers to greatly improve the employee experience in order to become an employer of choice.
Technology always needs focus. But time is running out for contact centers with antiquated, siloed technology. Customer and employee expectations dictate a need for modern, integrated solutions that will improve CX and make employees more effective and efficient.
Let’s take a closer look at these 2022 contact center trends.
Several workforce trends are driving the need to focus on the employee experience. The Great Resignation has created a labor shortage. Due to people reevaluating their priorities, retiring early, and switching jobs they may have held for a long time, people are either leaving the labor force or making significant career changes.
Additionally, the massive work from home phenomenon has altered employee perceptions about where and how work should be done. And employee opinions are also changing due to generational shifts in the workforce.
All these variables are driving the following megatrends.
1. Employee Choice
The labor shortage is giving workers more power as businesses scramble to find and keep qualified employees. In-demand workers can request – and often receive – better wages, benefits, and working conditions. As an example, 35% of surveyed CEOs report expanding employee benefits in the last twelve months in an effort to reduce employee churn.
The trend toward employee choice also has some roots in the substantial increase in remote work models. Many newer at-home workers, including contact center agents, find they like working from home, and an eye-popping 58% of remote employees would rather find a new job than return to the office. Because so many businesses now use a work from anywhere model, there are plenty of potential employers for these workers to choose from.
Related Article: Ensuring Your Agents Are Fully Operational Working from Home
2. Gen Z Has Arrived
Members of Generation Z, people born between 1995 and 2012, are entering the workforce and bringing their own ideas about how the workplace should function. It’s projected that this younger generation will make up approximately 27% of the workforce by 2025.
Gen Z is defined by technology and values. They’ve never known life without the internet and leverage digital technology to communicate, learn, shop, and be entertained. They’re comfortable with collaboration tools and prefer multimedia learning. These digital natives are intolerant of technology that isn’t easy to use, something every employer should consider when making technology decisions.
In addition to being tech-savvy, Gen Z also makes decisions based on morals and values. This generation is highly aware of and engaged in social issues and that influences what they expect of their employers. For many Gen Z employees, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a must.
3. Location Equity
A hybrid work model, where some employees work remotely and some work on-site, has created complexity regarding equal access to development and advancement opportunities. Sometimes at-home workers are shortchanged in these areas. Out of sight, out of mind.
Remote workers won’t stand for it very long and, wielding their increasing power, will demand and receive equal access. This will impact how businesses train, design career paths, structure meetings, and more.
Contact Center Technology Solutions for Improving the Employee Experience
There are plenty of policy and process changes that can improve the employee experience, but don’t overlook technology as an enabler. The right solutions can help organizations successfully adapt to new and existing contact center trends.
Cloud-based contact center solutions can reach every employee no matter where they are, which supports a hybrid work model. This also means remote workers can have equal access to professional development tools such as performance management and training solutions. And when learning management solutions include multimedia training, this satisfies Gen Z’s inclination for video learning.
Cloud-based systems can also satisfy the desire for more work-life balance. For example, modern workforce management applications give employees access to schedules from their preferred device, consider agent preferences when generating schedules, and allow employees to have more say in their schedules through features such as shift swaps and time off requests.
Improving the supervisor experience is also important. Cloud-based solutions make it easier for supervisors to manage a dispersed agent team. Cloud workforce management systems that provide real-time visibility to key metrics enable supervisors to see what agents are doing and if they’re adhering to schedules. Additionally, easily accessible quality management systems simplify the monitoring process and help supervisors ensure the hybrid work model isn’t negatively impacting quality.
Getting Technology Right
The second group of megatrends is technology related. The pandemic caused most businesses to accelerate the implementation of digital solutions. This includes contact centers, which quickly implemented new technology to support remote agents and provide new ways for customers to get help.
The migration to digital solutions will continue to be a contact center trend, but there are other technology initiatives CX teams will be focusing on. Here’s a closer look at some megatrends that will help contact centers get technology right.
1. Breaking Down Silos
Businesses will continue the contact center trend of eliminating technology silos by discarding outdated systems and replacing them with fully integrated solutions. This trend is being driven by the proliferation of digital channels and consumer demands for seamless omnichannel experiences.
Removing silos enables connected experiences in which customers are recognized in every channel and don’t encounter friction as they move across them. A modern, integrated platform also allows organizations to better orchestrate increasingly complex customer journeys and support emerging channels such as face-to-face video communications and virtual reality.
Related Article: 7 Customer Service Channels We Will Use in the Future
In 2022, contact centers will also upgrade agent tools as part of integration efforts. If organizations are to offer omnichannel experiences, agents need a unified view of the customer.
2. AI That Works
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to completely transform how contact centers operate. In fact, many think AI is the future of customer service.
AI has already taken root in foundational contact center systems, from workforce management software, to smart routing, to conversional IVRs. Artificial intelligence is also enabling new technologies including smart virtual agents that facilitate self-service and tools that measure customer sentiment in real time.
A PwC survey found that 86% of the executive participants believe that AI will soon become a “mainstream technology” at their companies. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, according to Gartner, 80% of AI projects are never deployed.
In 2022, look for contact center vendors to continue refining their AI solutions so they’re easy to implement, generate a solid ROI, and priced so businesses of every size can use them. Barriers to adopting AI-enabled solutions will continue to fall.
3. More Routing Options through CRM Applications
Did you know some CRM systems have capabilities to route voice and digital interactions? Zendesk has long been a help desk powerhouse, and now they’re taking a significant share of the customer service software market. Additionally, Salesforce rolled out Service Cloud Voice in late 2019, which unifies voice calls, digital channels, and CRM data in real-time. The company reported that hundreds of customers signed up for the service in the first few months following the rollout.
CRM applications have traditionally been thought of as customer databases. But they’re evolving into customer service solutions. This contact center trend will likely continue as other CRM providers add functionality to compete with market leaders.
Playvox Solutions to Help Address Contact Center Trends
Playvox workforce management software is built for today’s connected, digital world. It’s capable of omnichannel forecasting and scheduling, resulting in streamlined operations and enabling omnichannel experiences. Additionally, because our software is in the cloud and we use customizable APIs, our solutions integrate easily with other contact center systems, removing silos and barriers to adoption.
Our WFM solution also leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to make forecasting and scheduling more accurate and less time consuming. You can use it right out of the box, so it won’t be one of the 80% of AI initiatives that never launch. Additionally, organizations of all sizes use our AI-powered software, so it’s designed and priced to be accessible to everyone.
Ready to prepare your contact center for the future? Hear more about contact center trends by watching our on-demand webinar CX Megatrends to Watch in 2022.