12 contact center technologies and trends to support your agents and customers
Time to read: 8 minutes
Contact centers have a lot of moving parts, like conversations across channels, customer databases, and metrics to track. This means agents and supervisors have a lot to manage while providing a positive customer experience.
Having the right tools can help contact center employees work more efficiently and free up time to give customers the support needed. Luckily, businesses can rely on various contact center technologies to make this happen.
Let’s take a look at 12 technologies and how each can benefit your contact center.
Contact center technology refers to tools and software that help contact center agents and supervisors do their jobs more efficiently while creating a positive customer experience. This includes telephony features, omnichannel integrations, and automations that engage customers effectively.
Contact center technologies benefit your business, contact center agents, and customers through:
- Improved efficiency and productivity: Contact center technologies help automate processes such as call routing, saving agents time and helping them work more efficiently. Additionally, automation tools help customers reach the right resources or agents quickly, improving their experience. Lastly, chatbots can help reduce agents’ workload, increasing their productivity and giving customers better service.
- Personalized customer experience: Contact center technologies can support agents by surfacing the necessary information to provide personalized support. This is crucial, as 66% of customers admit they’ll stop doing business with a brand that doesn’t personalize interactions, and 86% say brands can increase customer loyalty with personalized experiences.
- Streamlined omnichannel support: Contact center technologies offer cross-channel integrations that enable agents to support customers on their preferred channels while carrying over the context of previous interactions to provide a seamless experience. This omnichannel support impacts revenue—businesses report that investing in digital engagement helped them increase revenue by 90% on average in 2022.
- Improved performance: Contact center analytics tools allow supervisors to track and analyze contact center metrics from a single dashboard. This gives them quick access to valuable performance insights to measure and improve contact center performance.
The following contact center technologies are vital to providing quality customer support across channels. And while the technologies your contact center needs will depend on your primary channels, the right contact center solution will include these tools and features natively or through integrations.
Let’s dive into the top 12 technologies to consider for your contact center.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one of the most important call center technologies because it enables businesses to make and receive phone calls over the internet. This eliminates outdated landlines, replacing them with VoIP-enabled devices, such as desk phones, cell phones, mobile devices, and computers.
Computer telephone integrations (CTI) enable contact centers to connect phones and computers, unlocking advanced functionality. For example, CTI can help contact center agents improve efficiency through pop-up screens with contextual information, automated dialing, and call monitoring.
CTI has been around since 1992, but thanks to recent integrations with digital channels like SMS and live chat, it continues to facilitate efficiency in modern contact centers. For example, Lyft uses a CTI integration to connect associates’ phones and computers, allowing them to navigate simultaneous conversations across channels.
Call queuing places inbound calls on hold, then surfaces the calls to agents accordingly. This is essential for call centers, as it helps organize inbound calls. Additionally, call centers can combine call queuing with other routing models, which we’ll discuss next, to route calls to the appropriate agent depending on the customers’ needs.
Automatic call distribution (ACD) systems route inbound calls to available contact center agents. ACD systems can use a few different types of attribute-based routing to connect callers to the right agents:
- Skill-based routing routes callers to agents with specific skills or training depending on their needs (like connecting callers with technical difficulties to tech support and callers with billing questions to the billing department).
- Priority-based routing moves callers with urgent issues to the top of the queue.
- Time-of-day routing routes calls to agents based on their time zone and availability.
ACD works in tandem with interactive voice response (IVR), which we’ll discuss next, to route calls without a live operator.
IVR employs automated menus to help callers reach the appropriate agents or self-service options. It works alongside ACD to route customers based on their input. IVR receives callers’ inputs via spoken responses (like “if you have a billing question, say ‘billing’”) or touch-tone input (like “press 1 for scheduling”). Thus, IVR eliminates live operators and routes customers to the right agent quickly and efficiently—as long as you follow best practices.
Call recording tools enable contact centers to record customer calls for quality assurance and gather valuable information, like customer insights and common questions.
However, call recording isn’t as straightforward as pressing Record. That’s because businesses must protect customer data, which means call recording practices must comply with privacy guidelines.
This is where call recording technology can help. For example, it can enable agents to start recording once they have verbal consent from the customer (and not before) and pause recording when they provide sensitive information, like a credit card number.
Additionally, call recording technology can encrypt recorded calls and offer benefits like automated call transcription.
Data analytics are vital to measuring key performance indicators (KPIs), evaluating agent performance, and identifying areas for improvement. But when metrics are on different platforms and reports, it can be a challenge to view your contact center’s performance.
That’s why access to data analytics from a single dashboard is essential for contact center managers or supervisors—it enables them to view top-level KPIs and zoom in on individual conversations. This gives them the necessary insight to improve performance and provide agent feedback.
Contact center integration makes day-to-day operations more efficient by connecting your contact center with other vital tools in your tech stack. One of the most important platforms to integrate with your contact center is your customer relationship management (CRM) software. This facilitates data flow, giving agents access to customer profiles and notes on previous interactions to provide more personalized support.
For example, say a customer calls support with a technical issue. With a CRM integration, the agent can see that the caller recently interacted with the sales team and purchased a software upgrade, which is vital information in solving the customer’s issue.
A customer data platform (CDP) is another crucial tool to integrate with your contact center. It combines data from all customer touchpoints across channels, creating a centralized customer database. Then, businesses can segment that database based on various attributes or phases in the customer journey to tailor customer experiences.
Integrating your CDP with your contact center gives agents access to real-time data to provide hyperpersonalized support—which, as we mentioned earlier, is vital to customer retention and loyalty. For example, a CDP integration can enable agents to view a customer's interactions with social media ads and marketing emails, giving them a more holistic view of the customer’s interests and preferences.
A chatbot is an AI-powered program that can assist customers with basic questions and tasks without a live agent. Chatbots can help reduce agent workload while giving customers the support needed.
For example, a chatbot can answer FAQs, schedule appointments, and perform straightforward tasks, like taking a meal order. And if the chatbot can’t answer the customer’s inquiry, it can hand off the interaction to a live agent, passing along the context so the agent can jump into the solution.
In short, chatbots allow customers to self-serve while allowing agents to focus on more complex issues that require human interaction.
Omnichannel integration facilitates data flow and allows agents to engage customers across channels seamlessly to provide a consistent experience.
For example, say you don’t have integrated contact center channels, making them time-consuming for agents to toggle back and forth to view previous interactions across channels. This can lead agents to ask repetitive questions that frustrate customers.
Investing in digital channels helps businesses meet customers’ needs, as we mentioned earlier. So it’s vital for contact centers to offer integrated support across various channels (like SMS, live chat, video, and voice) to provide the best customer experience.
A unified UI brings all your contact center’s channels and integrations into a single dashboard, putting all the information agents need in one place. This direct access to data and tools enables contact center agents to work more effectively.
The above contact center technologies are essential for businesses to give customers high-quality support. However, the industry is evolving constantly, and new technologies have emerged that give contact centers even more flexibility to meet customer needs.
Let’s take a look at the top trends revolutionizing contact centers today.
AI is one of the most talked-about innovations in business and technology. What was once a sci-fi dream is now an accessible tool that businesses can leverage to predict customer needs and increase efficiency.
So how can contact centers use AI? Contact center integrations, like Google Cloud CCAI, can help agents work more efficiently, thanks to:
- Virtual agents that take IVR systems and chatbots to the next level by providing customized customer support.
- Agent assist features that automate tasks and surface recommended responses based on customer input.
- Sentiment analysis that helps understand customer intent and provide recommended actions to meet it.
Additionally, AI can empower businesses to improve the customer experience by analyzing vast amounts of data to uncover customer insights and engagement opportunities.
Contact centers that have been around for a long time likely rely on on-premise hardware that’s expensive to update and maintain. However, modern cloud-based solutions give businesses more agility to update contact centers to meet evolving customer needs.
Additionally, cloud-based solutions allow contact center agents to work remotely (as long as they have an internet connection and VoIP-enabled device) because they don’t need on-premise equipment.
However, the best cloud-based solutions offer the flexibility for businesses to augment on-premise contact centers without having to replace everything at once. For example, you can add new channels, like SMS and live chat, that integrate into your existing phone systems.
Learn more about the benefits of cloud contact centers.
Now that you have an idea of the most important technologies, you may want to know how to integrate these into your contact center. Whether setting up a new contact center or modernizing your existing solution, Twilio Flex can help.
This agile contact center platform empowers businesses to deliver personalized, frictionless customer support, thanks to:
- Digital channels that integrate with your existing tech stack.
- Seamless integrations with CRMs, CDPs, and AI tools, like Google Cloud CCAI.
- Customizable UI where customer service agents can access customer data, view the context of previous interactions, and engage customers across channels.
- Enhanced flexibility to augment your existing contact center solution or migrate to Flex as needed.
Ready to get started? Learn more about how to integrate AI into your contact center with Flex.
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