The Evolution of Contact Centers

Contact centers have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. 

Let’s take a look at some of the technology and innovations that have been instrumental in the evolution of modern contact centers and how those advancements have allowed organizations to help their customers in ways that were not previously available to them.

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What are contact centers?

A contact center is a centralized department that handles inbound and outbound communications from current and potential customers. Organizations can choose to staff their contact centers with an internal team or outsource communications to another company that specializes in handling customer inquiries.

Traditional call centers handled telephone calls, but as communications began moving to different mediums, some call centers added new functionality to meet customers across a range of channels. Thus the contact center was born to support customer interactions on phone calls, email, web chat, web collaboration, SMS, and social media.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and skill-based routing

The advent of Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) technology in 1960 was a huge moment for call centers.

ACDs allowed businesses to filter incoming calls and assign them to agents.

Traditional ACDs were limited by the fact that they pushed inbound calls to the next available agent, leading to occasions where the best agent for the job might not be the agent who’s speaking with a customer. 

Skill-based routing was invented to help facilitate better customer experiences.

Skill-based routing technology collects customer data during incoming calls and automatically assigns them to agents with the skills needed to address their concerns—more on this below.

Omnichannel capabilities

As more communication pathways opened, customers started expecting answers faster than ever and wanted to communicate with organizations in multiple ways. As a result, call centers began to adopt communication methods other than telephones calls. 

Contact centers with omnichannel capabilities provided customers with various options for reaching businesses – web chat, two-way SMS, two-way email, social, and messaging channels. 

SingleComm deploys a robust voice and omnichannel web-based ACD that lets agents communicate according to customer preference, even on social media and popular apps.

Meeting customers on the channels they prefer allows organizations to decrease queue times, increase customer satisfaction, and speed up time to resolution.

Cloud-based contact center software

Commercial contact centers began moving onto the cloud in the early 2000s. 

Cloud-based infrastructure has several advantages over on-premise servers.

Cloud-based contact centers allow for faster onboarding of agents and give agents the capability to work remotely, resulting in greater efficiency and substantial savings on rent, insurance, et cetera. Cloud-empowered organizations can also rapidly scale to manage surges in customer requests, such as open enrollment periods.

In addition, cloud-based applications can quickly and easily integrate with third-party applications such as CRM and ERP.

Bottom line: Cloud-native technology is much more affordable, accessible, and adaptable than traditional methods.

Advanced metrics and optimization

In the past, call centers have leveraged data from ACDs and other tools to project call volume, determine staffing requirements, perform root cause analysis, and more.

As centers have evolved, they’ve gained the capability to dive into deeper data sets and turn their findings into actionable insights.

Modern-day contact centers track customer satisfaction with metrics such as first-contact resolution, chat rating, average time in queue, average call abandonment rate, and average handle time.

Testing capabilities have grown substantially in recent years, enabling contact centers to optimize every interaction. For example, with a service like SingleComm, a contact center can easily test price points, offers, scripts, and more in real-time, and instantly change allocations to optimize for higher conversions, better retention, lower AHT, and more.

Agent Workflows with scripting

Dynamic workflows allow conversations to flow naturally by predetermining which scripts to show to agents based on consumer information and how they answer questions—effectively making every agent an expert agent. 

Systems like SingleComm employ dynamic workflows that can be customized in minutes, without the need of a programmer,  to significantly lower costs, agent training time, and AHT while dramatically improving customer experience across channels.

Artificial Intelligence for contact centers

Contact centers have benefited greatly from the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). They use AI to significantly improve customer experience, simplify agent tasks, and gain deeper insights from customer interactions.

Some of the most common uses of AI in contact centers include.

Skill-based call routing

Skill-based call routing is when AI matches customers to specific agents who are best able to handle an issue, based on personality models or expertise.

Conversational AI (chatbots)

A chatbot is a software program that operates on the internet and performs repetitive tasks. Bots can be programmed to handle many general conversation functions.

Contact centers have employed chatbots to answer FAQs, schedule appointments, and capture basic information, freeing up human agents for more complex queries. In addition, bot adoption has made it easier for contact centers to provide 24/7 coverage.

Call analytics

AI can measure customer sentiment, tone, and personality to more accurately assess if customers are having a positive or negative experience.

SingleComm is the future of contact center software

SingleComm enables contact centers to take advantage of all the features listed above, from skill-based routing to dynamic workflows and then some.

Schedule a demo to see how SingleComm can help your organization.

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