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The call center evolution: Balancing human connection with digital innovation

the call center evolution

With savvier, more connected customers who have a plethora of options available to them, the evolution in how you provide support and service to your customers is integral to making sure they continue to choose you. While we’ve seen that adjustment through AI chat bots, app and digital outreach, the role of your call center is changing. Here’s what industry experts (and a bit of our own thoughts) say the future holds for call centers and how businesses can prepare. 

A digital-first approach 

By 2025, we can expect call centers to be more integrated with advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and automation. Tools that enable your call center agents to quickly pull and see customer data, analyze past interactions, feedback and behavioral patterns so they can best serve the individual can help you provide that personal touch.  

Additionally, a digital approach can help the teams manage volumes more efficiently and effectively. Especially to enhance wait times. Most of us have been placed on an extremely long hold with a service provider. We know it’s frustrating. So adopting call routing options, expanding self-serve options, offering chat options and using AI to predict peak times so you can adjust staffing, accordingly will all contribute to driving your efficiency and customer experience. 

For Symend customer, TELUS, call volumes skyrocketed during COVID and adopting a digital solution helped them ensure their customer experience didn’t feel that impact. “Symend became a critical service for TELUS overnight as call volumes skyrocketed and customer uncertainty continued to rise,” said Kim Vey, Director, Client Operations at TELUS. “Having Symend as a trusted partner allowed us to continue to provide outstanding customer service and build stronger relationships with our customers at a time when they needed it most”  

Meeting customers where they are 

Connecting with your customers across a variety of channels is integral today. Your approach can be phenomenal but if you’re not connecting with your customers on the channels where they’re trying to connect with you, opportunities are missed. Go4customer notes that customers also expect that experience to be seamless across social media, email, phone and live chat. Providing that unified experience will likely be the baseline by 2025.  

The human touch 

While technology plays a critical role, the importance of the human touch cannot be overlooked. Bain & Company underscores the need for a balanced approach, something we ardently believe in at Symend. Despite the push towards digital, there is still a significant portion of customers who prefer human interaction, especially for complex or sensitive issues. This does not mean that digital isn’t important, but rather that making your digital experiences feel more human is. 

To address this, call centers of the future will need to bolster the efficiencies gained from technology with human compassion. As is the case for us with our human-led AI approach, a balanced, blended approach is needed to ensure a responsible and human experience. For your call center teams, this is an opportunity to build relationships. To ramp up these skills in your team, you could look at embedding behavioral data within your customer profiles, and deepening the team’s skills within communication, problem-solving and empathy.  

Let’s get proactive 

Typically, when a customer takes the time to call, they are already in a situation that requires additional support. But what you do when they are not engaging with you currently, is the difference between having a customer for some time or a lifetime. This demands proactivity. 

Finding ways to surprise and delight your customers. For example, predictive analytics could help you identify what their next purchase may be or identify potential issues before they arise so you can proactively offer solutions. It feels good to have someone who just understands what you need before you need it – let’s be that for our customers too.  

Starting today 

Businesses need to start preparing for these changes now. Investing in technology, training, and infrastructure will be crucial to stay ahead of the industry. Also, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation will help you adapt with the landscape and ensure that both your business and employees continue to grow.

Download our 2023 consumer report, Decoding Billpayer Behavior, to discover more about what’s on the minds of your consumers and how you can gain their mind and wallet share.