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The digital transformation of the contact center is happening at full pelt.

Experts like McKinsey & Company believe that the impact of the 2020 pandemic pushed our demand for tech-forward by around seven years. The sudden shift to remote work, hybrid operations, and cloud connections has uprooted life as we know it.

So, what does this mean for the future of the contact center?

It seems that the cloud contact center is a vital part of true digital transformation. Cloud-based solutions allow agents to work from home and support companies in adding new channels and functionality to their CX operations at speed.

However, does that mean that one day the contact center will be digital-only? Let's explore the transformation of the modern contact center.


The Pandemic Changed Everything

At first, the switch to the digital world was a complex process for most contact centers. Companies were overwhelmed by the idea of having to run all-remote workforces through environments that they had only just begun to think about before the pandemic.

Companies pre-pandemic were uncertain about the security and compliance elements of the cloud. Many also worried that their workplace would be somehow less efficient when made remote.

Despite some concerns about switching to CCaaS (Contact Centre as a Service), the contact center was among the environment most required to move to the cloud. With many of these environments hiring hundreds of agents, traditional contact centers had a higher risk of spreading the pandemic.

Companies with contact centers could either move to the cloud or shut down.

When the pandemic hit, we discovered that cloud contact centers actually had a vast range of benefits to offer, including reduced costs, improved access to talent, and more. CCaaS also allows organizations to implement immersive technology, like analytics and AI, at the press of a button.


The Digital Divide

The digital transformation acceleration was a fantastic thing for the companies already moving down a cloud-focused avenue for contact center operations. Around 57% of customers say that change is crucial for the evolution of customer service. Cloud environments allowed business leaders to implement these changes at a competitive rate.

As call lines for traditional service and support became overwhelmed by higher demand during the pandemic, the cloud opened the door to new avenues. Omnichannel contact centers featuring SMS, chat, and video became more common. Customers found new ways to get the help they needed.

Even self-service opportunities became more commonplace.

Customers felt more comfortable doing things for themselves in an environment where every transaction quickly became distanced and contactless. Self-service solutions online were a natural step forward for increasing the speed of the service journey.

Companies suddenly could build machine-learning enhanced chatbots through cloud-based contact centers that could sort through questions on an agent's behalf. Intelligent IVR systems made it easier for customers to get answers to queries without speaking to an agent at all.

The increase of self-service solutions has been extremely valuable for companies, reducing the demand for higher staff numbers and increasing response times. Around 40% of consumers now prefer self-service over human contact.


Benefits of the Digital Contact Center

The digitally enhanced contact center has a lot of benefits to offer, starting with better customer experiences. When technology can help send customers to the right agent first-time and resolve problems faster, you end up with happier clients. When AI assistants can deliver information to agents in seconds, productivity improves, and teams operate more efficiently.

Other benefits of the digital contact center include:

Cost savings

Digital tools can help you save money by allowing customers to serve themselves, solve their own problems, and interact with robotic agents. Technology can also reduce the amount of time employees waste searching for information. Surveys show that knowledge workers lose around 20 hours each month by searching for data.

Reduced turnover

Exhausting contact center processes create employee frustrations. When your agents can access information and guidance quickly through immersive technology, they're more likely to stick around. One study notes that 88% of employees believe the tech companies' use is essential to the workplace experience. Furthermore, 91% of team members say they crave more modern tech solutions.

Greater visibility

Technology can offer an insight into the workplace, providing valuable overviews of things like how many calls you answer in a day and which of your employees are performing the best. The more you can see the customer journey and your company's processes, the easier it is to implement changes that drive lasting results.


Will the Contact Center Ever Be All-Digital?

So, if digital transformation and self-service solutions have created a more efficient, cost-effective contact center, will the future contact center be all digital?

It isn't likely.

Customers are growing more accustomed to the digital side of customer support, from self-service solutions to automated AI bots. However, that doesn't mean they don't need empathy and human help. Voice is still and always will be part of the equation.

86% of customers still say they prefer humans to chatbots.

Bots are only capable of so much. They can respond to questions based on prior data and information in their algorithms, but they can't develop creative solutions to problems.

Virtual agents can also give more information to agents to provide customers with contextual and relevant guidance, but they can't empathize with a human being.

As companies begin to implement more digital tools into the workplace for contact center enhancement, they'll need to focus on a hybrid future. There will be a greater need for technology than ever before, but not at the expense of human agents.

Customers will still want an easy way to accelerate a conversation with a chatbot to a human being. Giving your clients an easy escalation path to talking to a human is a must-have for good CX.

The digital revolution is happening, but a contact center can't be digital-only.

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