Maintaining a competitive edge in a call center is very much tied to the customer, and customer preferences are an ever-changing matter. The ways we measure efficacy—with customer success KPIs like CSAT and NPS®, for example—ultimately reflect the kind of experiences we deliver when our customers seek support. This leaves support teams with the difficult task of continuing to deliver quality across all channels. Here are five call center trends to keep an eye on, trends that promise to drive both customer experience and call center ROI.

1. Customer experience is a top priority

Call it customer centrism. Call it customer focus. Either way, it’s the companies that focus on their customers that thrive. In the context of support, this means constantly examining the ways customers interact with the call center and identifying shortcomings. Red flags include high volume around the same issues, content gaps, or a poor support center navigation experience that’s causing people to call in. In the end, good customer experience is about lowering customer effort.

2. Agent enablement should not be overlooked

One of the best ways to deliver an improved customer experience is to give support agents the tools they need to address customer issues in a timely manner. Typically, this begins with a solid CRM tool and integrated knowledge base solution that gives agents what they need while handling support cases. What solutions have customers already attempted? Can agents quickly search for content, see related issues, and create knowledge base articles from resolved cases? Ideally, all of these capabilities are integrated into the CRM to allow for optimal case resolution on the first call or contact.

3. Self-service and ticket deflection

Increasingly, customers want to solve issues on their own. We know this. And given this preference for self-service, there is a massive opportunity to help customers help themselves. It starts with a comprehensive self-service support strategy. A self-service strategy can help deflect potential support tickets, lightening the load on call centers so that agents can focus on more pressing matters. Examples of good self-service include in-product contextual help, video tutorials, and—of course—a well-structured, easy to navigate knowledge base. Again, with strong self-service comes ticket deflection, a tangible data point that can help demonstrate a call center’s ROI to the company.

4. Social media support channels

According to Deloitte, 9% of all support contacts in 2019 will be via social media. In fact, this is one of the preferred methods of yours truly: the first thing I do when I need support from a larger company is to search Twitter for their support handle and contact them directly. Many times, this leads to the fastest response and swiftest resolution. Have you considered a social media support strategy? If your customers are going to social for support, you need to be there with a strategy in hand. Otherwise, those customers might pick up the phone, a much costlier interaction.

5. Artificial intelligence

In the same report from Deloitte, we find that 56% of technology, media, and telecom companies are planning to invest in artificial intelligence. Will you be one of them? Because part of creating successful customer experiences is delivering the types of self-service experiences they’ve come to expect. Artificial intelligence allows for customers to answer questions quickly, often without the need to call a contact center at all. There’s a reason Gartner predicts that AI will be in nearly every software product by 2020—it’s what many customers prefer.

Adapt now or risk bruising the customer experience

You’ll notice that, at its core, each of these trends is digital in nature. Among other things, digital means data: within each of these call center trends, there are opportunities to gather customer data to help improve processes and demonstrate ROI. The way customers seek support will continue to evolve. No matter which trends take hold, one thing will remain consistent: the importance of the customer experience.

Additional categories: Customer Experience, Customer Support