The pandemic accelerated several trends in the contact-center industry that were already underway, chiefly: moving infrastructure and software applications to the cloud, and rethinking the process of managing agents. One byproduct of these trends is a renewed look at the similarities between business-phone systems (also known as unified communications, or UC) and contact center systems (CC).
The modern contact center relies heavily on software that enables agents to perform multiple complex tasks while simultaneously managing the customer-facing side of interactions. This has allowed CRM vendors to build tools, such as agent desktop interfaces, that control virtually all aspects of the service environment.
The ways in which consumers engage with organizations have changed. Long-established communication channels such as the telephone, email and company websites are still used, but many consumers now prefer to use text messages, online chat, social media, virtual agents and applications on their mobile devices to contact the company and address issues. As a result, organizations have had to add support for many new channels of customer engagement.
Shifts in the market due to the pandemic have upended the contact center marketplace, accelerating the inevitable migration of infrastructure to the cloud and changing the way agents are managed. The pandemic also increased the dependence customers have on contact centers in the absence of in-store buying.
Since customer data platforms (CDP) emerged in the marketplace about five years ago, there has been debate about what roles they fill, especially within customer service organizations. They were originally developed by small software firms to provide marketing teams with a comprehensive view of customer records. Those records could be scattered throughout an organization, siloed by system and department. CDPs were an attempt to shortcut integration processes that are long, expensive and often custom-designed.