When I started writing my blog about why the fax is still relevant a few weeks ago, it got me thinking about the contact center in general. I spend a lot of time talking about mobile networks and service provider-related things like signaling, but in my early years at Dialogic, I learned a lot about contact centers (they were called call centers back then), and that is still an important business for us.
The contact center has traditionally been a rich area for introduction of new technologies, given that there is a dual need to service customers effectively while keeping costs down as much as possible. This dichotomy has spawned use of new communications innovations, such as VoIP, quickly.
So what is going on now in the contact center world? As you might expect, the cloud is an area that contact centers are using. In fact, in September of last year, DMG Consulting predicted that approximately half of the contact centers not using cloud would begin using it by the beginning of 2015. That means that the contact center application and its underlying media engine need to be software-based so they can run in the cloud and in a virtualized environment.
Use of smartphones to call contact centers is also, predictably, growing. As the mobile networks become mobile on-ramps to the Internet, it’s logical that people would start to access the contact center self-help area through their smartphones. And when customers need to talk to someone, they often use smartphones to make those calls. Ovum Research even projected that in developed markets, more than 50 percent of inbound calls will come from smartphones by 2018.
Video integration is also important, especially as more people watch video on their smartphones. Video could be similar to the Amazon Kindle “Mayday” commercial, where you actually talk to an agent via video chat, but it could also work by pushing videos to the caller to help demonstrate how to fix something, offer some other sort of simple training or show an overview of a product. For certain contact centers, you can also take pictures or a video and send it to the contact center. That’s helpful in insurance, for example, because the insurance company would have all the information required to get the claim moving along.
Keep an eye on the blog next week, as I will discuss other key contact center technology trends and the impact of WebRTC on contact centers. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments on Twitter at @JMachiDialogic.