Use these tips to improve your employee retention rates so you can reduce turnover, save money, and maintain a positive company culture.
The Top 6 Call Center Trends Going Into 2024
It’s good practice to reflect on what’s important to us, and at Hatch, that means paying attention to contact centers for home improvement businesses! As we come into the homestretch of the year, here’s a look at what we’ve seen as the top contact center trends going into 2024.
Table of contents
- WFM solutions
- Employee culture & retention
- Customer retention
- Personalization for CX
- AI for customer engagement
- AI for data analysis
Let’s dive into those trends!
The top 6 contact center automation trends of 2024
Here are six key trends we’re seeing in call centers for home improvement businesses this year, in company culture, customer experience, sales and marketing, and more.
1. WFM solutions
Workforce management (WFM) solutions have been around for a while but COVID-19 and the global pandemic forced the world to push for more accessible solutions. Many businesses, contact centers included, went from in-office only to a hybrid or remote solution. This meant new WFM solutions needed to be considered to cover the potentially more flexible and spread out employee base.
Tracking average handle times, contact abandonment rates, and WFM analysis efficiency is critical for call center success. As with any business, call centers want to maintain or improve their ROI, and a WFM solution can help in tracking important insights or showcasing key metrics. But how do you pick the right solution?
Here are some critical components to have figured out when looking at solutions:
- Defined WFM requirements
- Means of ranking your vendor options
- Organized vendor demos
- Use cases for your WFM solution
- Solution dealbreakers
You may also want to consider your current ROI and goals for once a solution has been implemented. Using a WFM calculator, like the free one offered by CommunityWFM, can help to determine your starting point or end goal for your new solution.
2. Employee culture & retention
Speaking of more flexible workforces, the culture of contact centers has seen a drastic change.
One of the biggest expenses of modern business is recruiting and onboarding. Experts have shown that the loss of one employee can result in up to 4x, or 400%, of that employee’s salary to hire a replacement. It’s not just the financial cost that makes this expensive either.
Knowledge and time (spent building employee knowledge and rapport with clients) are massive costs to organizations looking to last beyond the next year or two. When employees stay for more than a year, mentorships can be implemented and positive cultures begin to form. But retaining employees means investing in their skills and happiness.
You can invest in your employees by offering:
- Schedule flexibility
- Mentorship programs
- Professional development reimbursement
- Competitive salaries and benefits
Aside from not being able to nurture and retain knowledge, a company that has a new representative every couple of months isn’t going to build a trusting relationship with clients. Which brings us to customer retention.
3. Customer retention
Retention in a contact center has two sides: employee retention and customer retention.
Customers that keep coming back to you are what keep your business afloat. On average, existing or returning customers make up 65% of a single company’s business.
In the same vein, 72% of customers have been seen switching to a competitor after a single negative experience. The customer experience and the culture created drive company value, so it’s important to have good retention rates and onboarding internally.
4. Personalization for CX
Customer experience (CX) is trending, as it should, for contact centers this year. It makes sense that businesses built on customer engagement would focus on the customer engagement but it’s more specific than just making sure calls go smoothly.
Technology has evolved and been pushed forward on the business agenda since the COVID pandemic. As a result, customers have been thrown into the digital age, whether they were ready or not, and businesses have had to figure out the best way to engage with them while maintaining expectations.
Personalization has looked different for each industry. In the food industry, it means more online and delivery options. In the technology industry, we’ve seen a quick shift to cloud networks. In call centers for the service industry, we’re seeing a continuous evolution to personalized digital outreach and response.
There are more tools than ever for call centers to consider when it comes to the customized user experience. Each type of tool comes with its own advantages, and they each have several providers to choose from. Some popular AI tools for contact centers are:
- Video agents
- Email generators
- Review response generators
- CRMs with AI-powered customer insights (more tips on using AI for sales here)
Customization through technology isn’t a new trend though, and it impacts more than just the customer experience. In mid-2022, ContactBabel and RingCentral released The US Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2022-23 where they covered several contact center trends, including the implementation plans for new technologies in call centers. Pictured below is their graph.
The implementation of technology is a great way to customize the consumer journey.
5. AI and customer engagement
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been all the rage when it comes to modern technology, both in the positive and not-so positive sense. For contact centers, AI has become an asset of customer engagement and the customer experience.
For starters, AI-enabled chatbots give contact centers, and customer support roles in general, a 24/7 option without demanding absurd hours from employees. They can also take over repetitive and menial tasks so that employees can focus on their more mission-critical and gratifying responsibilities.
Now you might be thinking, “Hey, that could help with the culture and retention trend we talked about earlier, right?” Absolutely!
AI usage in the customer experience is a fine line to travel though. You want customers to know you’re still human and able to make a connection. A balance needs to be made.
To ensure balance, make sure you:
- Have an evaluation team for CX transformation and transitions
- Ensure AI requirements and capabilities are aligned (and understood within the organization)
- Leverage demos, use cases, and other pre-existing material
- Identify what successful AI looks like from the CX perspective (a focus group can help with this)
6. AI for data analysis
In addition to chats and engagement, another way home improvement call centers are using AI is for data insights. Integrations of AI into existing workflows and nurture campaigns also allow for quick analytics for success, sales, and marketing. Also, not only can AI produce the same reports as humans in a fraction of the time, but it can also surface patterns and predictions that humans cannot.
What do these call center trends mean?
While trends don’t necessarily stick around, the trends thus far this year are going to have long-term implications. The digital age is only expanding. AI is only improving. Customer and employee experiences will only continue expecting more value. So what do these trends mean for contact centers today?
First and foremost, contact centers need to be comfortable with the idea of investment, specifically investing in technology and their employees. What happens on the inside can always get out!
It’s also worth mentioning the importance of knowing what the customer sees and experiences. When so much of the process is automated, digital, and conducted behind-the-scenes, it’s easy to lose sight of the true purpose. Invest in the customer experience as much as possible, and keep in mind the customer pain points you’re actively trying to solve.
Keep an eye on these contact center trends
To recap, contact centers this year are focusing on:
- Workforce management solutions
- Employee culture and retention
- Customer retention
- Personalized customer experience
- AI for customer engagement
- AI for data analysis
Moving forward, these trends mean it’s time to invest in: