In the 1989 movie Back to the Future II, Michael J. Fox’s character Marty McFly travels to the year 2015. He sees a future with hover boards, holograms, flat-screen TVs, and video calls. Not bad for predictions made over 25 years ago!

But the movie didn’t give us a glimpse of what a contact center might look like in 2015. Based on the trends over the last year, let’s consider what Marty may have seen had he traveled to a contact center in 2015 instead of Hill Valley.

Moving from Multichannel to Omnichannel

And 2015 will be the year that the “omni” will be cemented into omnichannel. Multichannel customer care has been around for some time now.

Customers can reach out to contact centers via the channel they choose: voice, video, web chat, email, or social. But what if a customer uses more than one channel to complete a single transaction over a period of time?

Each time the customer makes contact, all the information and context from previous contacts, regardless of channel, will be available. Each subsequent agent or resource can get right to the issue at hand to complete that customer’s journey and fulfill their request.

Speaking of customer journeys, omnichannel allows you to expand the customer experience. It’s not just a journey to purchase. It’s a complete experience across multiple transactions and inquiries. No matter why or how a customer reaches out, an omnichannel strategy ensures that the content and context of past interactions are available. This helps maximize customer loyalty and satisfaction. And that loyalty leads to your company becoming a preferred brand, not only for your products but for high-quality customer care.

What About the Cloud?

What about the cloud market for contact center? It seems that new cloud providers emerge every month. The landscape of cloud contact-center providers is fragmented. We see 2015 as a year in which providers will consolidate. Larger players will be able to withstand lower margins while still providing high-quality solutions.

Video in the Contact Center

It may not be customer care by hologram, but video is taking a firm hold as a useful channel for customer interaction. And it’s moving beyond just “talking heads” to use cases like:

  • Assisting you through the detailed negotiations for a mortgage
  • Helping you install that neat new gadget you got for your mountain bike
  • Supporting a technician working in the field

The applications for video in the contact center are endless. And we will see video continue to grow in 2015 with the advent of new applications and the expansion of existing ones. In particular, mobile video will grow. (Think about how many people got new mobile devices as gifts for the holidays.)

Focus on Simplicity

I’ve shared some thoughts on how the customer experience will change in 2015. There’s omnichannel, a focus on customer journeys, cloud options and video. But, there is another trend coming to the forefront for the people who implement and manage contact centers: Simplifying the user experience. It is no secret: When discussions turn to contact-center implementation and management, terms like “difficult” and “complicated” often arise. The thought of simplifying things for IT and customer care managers has been the talk for years. We see this taking a turn for the better in 2015. It starts with implementation and administration and moves right down to the agent desktop.

If 2015 turns out the way we think it might, George McFly (Marty’s dad), could be writing about aligning contact centers with corporate brand and image to drive business success, instead of how space aliens helped him meet his future wife.


Peter Milligan

No Longer with Cisco