There's an interesting discussion going on among contact center professionals on a LinkedIn group based on the following question: "Which of the following technologies do you believe will have the most impact on customer service within the next 5 years?" The choices include:
- Mobile Customer Service Apps
- Virtual Agents
- Agent Desktop Technology
The discussion has generated a slew of responses. Many contributors have commented to extol the benefits of social media technologies and how they can be used to help serve the social customer. Others have lauded the use of mobile customer service apps as more and more consumers are becoming "married" to their phones, as one participant put it. Still others have offered their support for virtual agent technologies, particularly as these tools mature and allow for interaction with customers across multiple channels.
These types of forums on LinkedIn make for engaging discussion and debate, and it's interesting to explore the reasons that people favor certain technologies. But ultimately, I don't think there's a single technology that will have an extraordinary impact on customer service over the next five years. There are a few reasons for this.
Each of the technologies listed have their own merits and will be used to suit different types of customer needs and situations, including customer location. For sure, customers are increasingly relying on their mobile devices and there are certain settings where portable customer service will become even more prominent. This includes the use of mobile video connections between customers and agents as customers will continue to seek person-to-person interactions to resolve certain types of issues.
Another technology that will continue to have a dramatic impact on customer service going forward is cloud-based contact center services. Companies will increasingly adopt cloud platforms to become more agile and responsive in meeting customers' changing service needs across multiple channels.
In the end, the greatest determinant is customers themselves. Customers will decide which tools they will use based on their location as well as their particular needs at that moment (e.g. the need to speak to an agent versus self-service resolution).
Is there a standout technology you see having the greatest impact on customer service over the next five years?