It takes a bold commentator to take a punt on what the contact centre agent will look like in 2025, such is the pace of technological evolution and its disruptive consequences. However that’s exactly what Teresa Cottam chief strategist at UK analyst firm, Telesperience has done in a report .
- It expects the contact centre agent to still have a role, but it will be much more complex
- A new report speculates on the nature and role of the contact centre in 2025
- The ‘human’ operator may well have a direct relationship with customers, but could be an avatar behind which sit multiple human operators and possibly also chatbots.
She says the contact centre is set to become the interaction hub of the digital enterprise – responsible for support, interaction, education and data gathering, and will have evolve to deal with more responsibilities and far more complex issues.
“Tomorrow’s customers will be creative, will communicate across an array of existing and new channels but also in a new visual language,” Cottam says. “They will expect to co-create their experience via a continual interaction with the enterprise and will want to take responsibility for many issues currently managed by the contact centre to fulfil their desire for increased autonomy. The contact centre will support this by providing hints, tips, education and technical support.”
For contact centre agents who might well feel their long term employment prospects undermined by chatbots and customers’ increasing penchant for interacting online with a machine, Cottam has some good news: she thinks they will still needed to deal with the most complex and emotive issues.
“Human agents will still be needed to deal with the most complex and emotive issues.”
However she sees them needing a higher level skill set, which means many of those making up agent ranks today might not make the cut. “The range of skills required by human agents will also broaden and change as they become problem solvers, co-creators of unique experiences, educators and brand-enhancing ambassadors,” she says.
And to flesh out what this means, she conjures up a fictional future contact centre agent who she dubs Ms Bond. The futuristic Ms Bond “knows her customers by name. She has authentic knowledge about them and can share jokes, hints, tips and experiences with them.”
She has excellent communication skills
Ms Bond “is constantly learning and sharing her newly-acquired knowledge with customers and prospects, and “blends the ability to communicate, support, diagnose, market, cross-sell and upsell, and educate.”
Of course she enjoys considerable support from technology to achieve these feats of customer service. “This is only possible because of the powerful combination of analytics, social media, and advanced workflow technology she has at her fingertips,” Cottam says.
Now get this. Ms Bond may not be an individual. She may be a hybrid of multiple agents, with a single visual avatar as the face she presents to her customers. “Ms Bond may comprise several individuals who shift work to provide a 24 hour service and to cover holidays, sick leave and so on,” Cottam says.
And these multiple Ms Bonds might not be entirely human either. They might also be hybridised with an intelligent bot that can “deal with known problems and FAQs, deflecting a proportion of the case load from the human Ms Bond who can concentrate on solving unknown, complex problems or creating unique experiences and interactions with her customers.”
What was the quote from Shakespeare that inspired the title of a famous novel portraying a dystopian future? “O Brave New World that has such people in it.”