Business Miscellaneous

Top 10 Call Centre and Customer Service Trends of 2018

Image courtesy of Pixabay

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” 

– Jeff Bezos, an American investor, Founder, and CEO of

What is trending at the moment? – Automation

Every business is enhancing their customer experiences by trying to make them unique and accurate, and as an aid they are turning to new technologies. There has been a steep decline in voice support usage because customers are now looking for 24X7 support. The best way to provide such round-the-clock customer support is through automation. Automating certain critical aspects of customer experience can decrease costs and allow executives to do more complex tasks.

A case study of Autodesk reveals that automating the customer service process has improved customer response times by 99%. They built an Autodesk Virtual Agent (AVA) using the Watson Conversation Service, which interacts with customers and responds to their questions in real-time. AVA used data from chat logs, use cases, and forum posts and analyzed 14 million sentences for keywords, entities, phrases, clusters and other speech and language patterns. And the results are:

  • 30,000+ conversations supported by bot per month
  • 40 unique case studies recognized for easy resolution
  • 99% faster resolutions – from 1.5 days to 5 minutes (Human agents – 38 hours; Virtual agents – 5 minutes)
  • Cuts cost per case from $15-$200 to $1

What performance indicators should be considered?

Econsultancy conducted a survey of more than 2,000 marketers and asked “Over the next five years, what is the primary way your organization will seek to differentiate itself from competitors?” and the number one response they received was “Customer experience” or CX

There is a huge gap in organizational priorities and agent targets.

What performance indicators are businesses considering for measuring customer service operations?

  • Customer experience(CX) – top strategic performance measure
  • Ease of resolution – top operational factor that will impact customer satisfaction
  • First contact resolution (FCR) – top indicator of operational performance

What performance indicators are agents considering?

  • Productivity (number of calls/ contacts handled) 
  • Average handling time (AHT) 

What challenges should be addressed in 2018?

  • Service expectation – customer expectations continue to change rapidly due to digital transformation
  • Tracking omnichannel experience – Only 36% of contact centers are currently able to track a customer journey that spans multiple channels. Contact center operations are lagging far behind in ensuring uniform service experience across all channels
  • Performance indicators – Misalignment between organizational priorities (Customer Experience, Ease of Resolution and First Contact Resolution) and agent targets (Productivity and Average Handling Time)


Performance of contact center operations cannot be improved through strict management, raise in targets or a ‘carrot-stick’ approach. Improvements happen through inducing knowledge and empowering employees to do the best for their customers. This aspect has been analyzed and predicted in the Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report 2017 that shows CX robotics in the form of automation, AI, and IoT is creating a new reality, demanding a new approach. Top 5 channel focus areas are:

  1. Virtual assistant (chat-bots) 
  2. Instant messaging (incl. web chat) 
  3. Mobile apps 
  4. Video chat 
  5. IoT 

Phone volumes have dropped by 17% since 2015

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 trends we expect to see in enterprise call centers in 2018:

1. Adapting advanced data analytics

Analytics is voted as the top factor that will transform customer experiences in the next five years, yet only 48% have customer analytics systems, and 36% possess big data analytic solutions. That is the most uncomfortable truth. Research indicates that businesses should improve welcoming new technologies or they will fall behind their competitors. 

In addition, customer experience robotics are creating a new reality in customer service. A virtual assistant (chat-bots) is voted the top channel growth focus for 2017, and IoT deployments are set to double. Businesses should adapt to emerging technologies that create great opportunities in serving customers and help agents to view the displacement of legacy processes as a natural transition, and not a threat.

More brands are developing strategies to manage and analyze relevant customer data to stay well ahead of the competition. Investment in advanced data analytics lead to increased customer satisfaction and will see a big rise in 2018. 

2. Robotics reshaping world of CX

Companies are moving towards Artificial Intelligence enabled automation via behavioral personalization. Live chat software and virtual assistants are increasingly being used and that will remain true in 2018. They are becoming part of the customer service culture and it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t interacted with them. 

As per the Autodesk case study stated earlier, virtual agents take just 5 minutes to respond and resolve issues when compared to a human agent who takes 38 hours, which is 1.5 days. This is a 99% faster resolution. Inclusion of more keywords, entities, phrases, clusters into live chat software will grow in future, so that they will be able to respond with even more empathy and personalization. 

3. Implement effective digital strategies

Phone interactions are not being displaced as quickly as desired by customers. Customers mostly want things resolved online and consider a telephone as their last option. Digital transformation improves customer experience which is the top goal of businesses today. Over 84% of businesses which implemented digital strategies experienced an increase in revenue due to improved customer experience. Yet, most organizations are failing to implement effective digital strategies. 

Fewer than 10% of organizations polled said that they had an optimised strategy for digital business in place, while over half (51%) reported they don’t have any plan at all or are at best in the process of developing one. The absence of a connected digital strategy could mean that digital solutions are completely absent or customers are unaware of its existence. 

4. Call routing based on customer data

42% of online shoppers said they had contacted a retailer about an online purchase they made in the last 6 months. This emphasizes the necessity for businesses to track customer history and individual needs to improve personalized customer care. 

In 2016, The Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report outlined that 42% of all customer interactions had become digital. Each digital interaction provides a good amount of data about the customer, like needs, preferences and purchasing behavior. When processed and routed appropriately, this data can, in turn, be taken and adapted into revenue.

Forrester suggests that advanced data and analytics will be able to successfully route customers to agents (or bots) based on data collected which outlines previous purchases and online behaviors. 2018 will see businesses investing time and effort into collecting customer data. 

5. Improve conversational commerce

Conversational commerce is the act of placing purchase orders through online or mobile conversations. 

According to BusinessInsider, messaging apps such as WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger have become the preferred means of communication on mobile devices, with messaging apps surpassing social apps in global popularity. The bots read messages, study purchasing behavior and browsing history and reply to customer queries.

As a result, customer service professionals are already exploring ways to use these accessible tools to assist businesses in industries. Chris Messinaas first talked about “conversational commerce” in 2015 and it will pick up speed in 2018.

6. Include self-service

Consumers are looking more for do-it-yourself systems. Customers increasingly (64%) use FAQ’s on a company website followed by voice self-service, online forum or community and live chat to get answers for their questions.

7. Integration of natural and artificial intelligence

Aspect conducted a survey of custom-crafted online study with a minimum aggregate sample size of 1000 Americans, aged 18-65 on the consumer experience index, and the key takeaways were:

  • Consumers in general, rate the user experience higher than the effectiveness of the chatbot interaction
  • 86% agree that customer service that uses “intelligent assistant” or “chatbot” technology should always have an option to transfer to a live agent
  • 61% agree that customer service that uses “intelligent assistant” or “chatbot” technology will allow for simple to moderate requests to be handled more quickly
  • Most of the consumers (88%) feel that when purchasing a product, ordering a service or contacting customer service, they expect a natural transition between automated self-service and agent-assisted service. 

This study illustrates the dependency on both natural intelligence as well as artificial intelligence for an effective consumer service. CRM systems, like Agile CRM, enable agents to connect with customers through various channels, including email, social media, or by phone. They can even collaborate with each other in real-time.

8. Social customer service

Did you know that social media is being considered as the future of customer service? Let us look at some statistics that would help us understand this.

  • Consumers are spending over 4 hours a day on the internet, over half of which (2.4 hours/day) is spent on social media.
  • An estimated 67% of consumers now tap networks like Twitter and Facebook for customer service.
  • 33% of customers even prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone. 
  • 3% of companies claimed that as many as 25% of service requests start socially.

Consumers are aggressively reaching out to online platforms to talk about brands and brands are forced to join these conversations. This will increase in 2018. Businesses are building on this trend by using software solutions, like CRM, and are becoming involved in social media interactions which are more appealing, fun, interesting and easy to share. 

9. Omni-Channel communications

“The future of communicating with customers rests in engaging with them through every possible channel: phone, e-mail, chat, web, and social networks. Customers are discussing a company’s products and brand in real time. Companies need to join the conversation.”

– Marc Benioff, Co-Founder, and CEO of

Call center leaders are committed to expand their multi-channel offerings to create seamless experiences across various channels, and 2018 will possibly see a growth in this. As of now, only 36% of contact centers track a consumer journey across multiple channels. According to PwC, the demand for omnichannel support will be amplified to nearly perfect execution by 2020. 

The image below, from the ‘Inner Circle Guide to Omni-Channel Customer Contact’ by ContactBabel, reveals the current state of multi-channel, multi-modal, and omnichannel offerings by contact centers.

It’s clear that most contact centers have adopted multi-channel but only an average of 12% describe themselves as omnichannel. To implement an omnichannel strategy, all applications must identify, route and switch interactions between agents and channels. 

10. Personalized approach

Technology has made it quite easy to track every conversation with customers, their purchase history and their preferences. Because of this, personalized interactions are becoming more ubiquitous and brands are implementing them at rocket speed.

For example, a brand that targets you with a relevant ad based on something in your phone conversation, or emails based on your web-browsing behavior is typically a positive experience, right? These experiences will definitely increase revenue and brand loyalty.


Let’s us know how your customer service is when compared to industry standards. Have you included using any of the above mentioned techniques? What trends do you see coming up in next 12 months?

About the author


Rohit Prasanna

Rohit Prasanna brings in about 14 years of digital marketing experience and has been an advisor to software start-ups in the mobile and SaaS areas. Before getting into startups, Rohit worked in various marketing, and product management roles at Unisys, Dell, and IBM. Specialties: Digital marketing, building and growing companies, marketing, business development, M&A.