Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the contact center and enterprise communications markets. She has a proven track record of accomplishment in new product development, competitive assessment, market research, and sales strategies for communications solutions and services.A few weeks ago McGee-Smith published the "Top Contact Center Stories of 2017” to No Jitter which included stories about digital transformation, Artificial Intelligence, bots, and more.McGee-Smith recently spoke at the Five9 2018 Sales Kickoff sharing her insights about the contact center industry and the 2017 forecast. After her presentation, we had a quick conversation, diving a little deeper into the contact center.Q: What are your predictions for the contact center industry in 2018?
I think we are going to have strong continued growth in contact center as a service. Often markets start really strong and then it’s predicted that growth will slow down. But that’s not happening yet, in fact for contact center there is so much more opportunity.
If you look at this S-Curve graph, markets start with slow growth and then they go into high maturity mode. The contact center industry is right in the middle of expansion and there is a lot of growth left in this marketplace. The maturity phase of the contact center as a service market is still years away.
Q: A hot topic in the media is customer experience. We’ve seen industries such as the airlines other integrate personalized experience into their CRMs so they know who customers are when they call in. What other suggestions do you have for companies to improve customer experience?
Improving self-service helps improve customer experience. Most of us are willing to try to get an answer or solve an issue with digital interactions so make these interactions great. Don’t cut off access to live agents, but investing in self-service is a smart thing to do.
Q: In the next 12 months, how will see companies use Artificial Intelligence and bots in their contact centers?
Some of it will be quite invisible I think. Companies like Five9 are using machine learning in the background, to improve things like personalized routing. More visibly, there will be increased use of bots. From a customer perspective, some of that may be invisible – your chat be answered quickly and correctly and them seamlessly transition to a live agent when necessary.
Q: What are the biggest challenges keeping contact center professionals up at night?
The biggest challenges keeping contact center professionals up at night is finding ways to help their agents and customers be more successful. This includes providing contextual customer information that helps the agents be smarter so that when customers call in they have the right answers.
As we know customers are using digital methods to get their own answers via self-service so the questions the agents are getting are harder. Contact center professionals are asking themselves how do I work with IT, marketing, and others to ensure my agents have the tools and information they need to be successful to handle these more difficult calls.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my discussion with Sheila McGee-Smith.
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