When it comes to truly configurable, mash-up powered Customer Engagement Centres, 2015 will be the year when they start to have a significant influence on Customer Contact technology, according to contact centre firm MPL Systems, which has picked out the five key trends we can expect to see in these technologies in 2015. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The company expects to see an increased focus on technology-based solutions that allow service providers to model exactly the customer engagement approach they need without having to force their business processes to fit into complex, one-size-fits-all CRM models.

Technologies that support this model - particularly when it comes to taking advantage of digital channels - are likely to play a key role in contact centre technology best practices in the near term. The five main trends that MPL expects to see shaping the Customer Engagement Centre Technology landscape in 2015 are as follows:

  1. Agent Desktops enable true Customer Engagement Centres
    While 2014 saw greater integration between contact centre and CRM systems, organisations still need to go much further if they are to provide agents with truly intelligent Agent Desktops. 2015's biggest challenge will involve organisations getting much closer to customers, leveraging more meaningful and context-sensitive information through smart Big Data mash-ups to provide agents with relevant insight into all of a customer's interactions with a business -ensuring that agents no longer need to hand off interactions to other departments.
  2. Embedding customer care into mobile apps
    We're already seeing dedicated mobile apps assume greater importance in service providers' omnichannel strategies, however for 2015 customer service organisations will build on this by embedding direct contact capabilities such as web chat, callback and instant messaging - effectively offering a Virtual IVR capability for those digital customers frustrated with traditional contact channels.
  3. Web chat on track to become the dominant channel
    A recent MPL webinar with BT's Head of Customer Insight and Futures, Nicola Millard, referenced how web chat is set to become the dominant customer contact channel of the future. 2015 will see chat continue to grow in terms of channel representation, as it transitions from browser-based web chat as we know it, to live messaging via customer mobile apps.
  4. Text Analytics ready to handle increased volume of incoming text messages
    Whether it's messages from mobile apps, social media, web chat, email or Visual IVR channels, many contact centres are seriously concerned about how to manage dramatically escalating text-based messaging volumes as customers increasingly engage via digital channels. Some businesses are still seeing major backlogs - sometimes of up to 48 hours - particularly at busy times such as the countdown to Christmas. The latest multi-channel textual analytics solutions are poised to address this during 2015, enabling up to 60% of messages to be handled automatically and freeing significant amounts of agent time and allowing them to focus on more complex customer engagement issues.
  5. Broadening out the Customer Engagement Centre
    While refining the customer experience within the contact centre and digitally has undoubtedly helped to reduce customer effort, there are still significant gaps in the provision of integrated service. For 2015 we expect to see more organisations build out their joined-up customer service propositions to embrace other key touch-points including field service, logistics and delivery capabilities as well as in-store engagement in the retail sector particularly and showroom engagement.

"2014 has shown that traditional CRM and contact centre vendors are struggling to deploy in months, or even years, what more flexible cloud-based solutions can deliver in days or weeks," concluded Paul White, CEO for MPL Systems. "It's this kind of technology - powered by these five trending innovations - that's likely to shake up the traditional contact centre infrastructure."