What a great show that was. The Call and Contact Centre Expo delivered on every level this year, and not just for solution providers like us.

Sure, it was a commercial success for us with a busy stand, huge interest in our new contact centre Voxivo CX and a record number of new customer opportunities. Importantly, though, it was noticeable that there was a real air of practicality about the solutions on display this year and a more down-to-earth view of the contact centre’s role in business operations. It appeared that many exhibitors were taking a more tempered view of the technological capabilities available today rather than hype-building promises and attention-getting speculation about developments still in the pipeline. Encouragingly, conversation was more about building technology around the customer’s behaviour, rather than the other way around.

Maybe lessons had been learnt from the challenges of omnichannel deployment. After years of occupying vendor’s development roadmap and exhibition space, omnichannel is still a feature used by only a privileged minority of larger businesses that have access to the resources and budgets necessary.

Whilst omnichannel appeared to take a back seat in this year’s show, many companies filled the gap with AI. Undoubtedly, the role of AI in the contact centre is building but, frankly, there were just too many evangelists pronouncing high-level claims that AI will dominate or even replace the agent role in the near future. More interesting were those that focused on specific applications of machine learning in present-day chatbots, self-service options and agent-assist solutions or those that addressed the real-life challenges of delivering these services without alienating the user.

In particular, there seemed a reassuring realisation that, with self-service and chat bots doing more and more of the donkey work, the most critical, complex, emotional interactions are placing greater pressure on the Agent. In turn, there is evidence that human contact and voice communication is becoming all the more important. It’s a realisation that resonates strongly with the design of our own Voxivo CX, a system that majors on ease of adoption, intuitive operation by the agent and rich features optimised for voice.

Feedback on our stand reinforced this call to make life easier for the agent. Equally, there is a corresponding requirement for monitoring and performance data that give contact centre managers the quality assurance they need. In this context, updates to PCI compliance continues to be a perennial issue at the front of mind for online retailers. More generally, though, data analysis is being viewed as a rich source of guidance for improving the customer journey and the bespoke development of contact centre system functionality. Testament to this were the many visitors on our stand who showed interest in our ability to integrate Voxivo CX with CRM and KPI measurement.

On reflection, the Expo was more than an Expo. Time will tell, but the lasting impression was that perhaps contact centre design is at a tipping point where priorities are being reconsidered. For some years now, we’ve been led to believe that millennial customers are unforgiving in their demands for automation, self-service, multi-channel and digital conversation. Of course they are, but it’s easy to forget they’re also human beings responding to brand values with all the intangible factors that brings. Agents need to reciprocate with heightened people skills as well as agile technology.

Most importantly, the new wave of Gen-Z customers now has disposable income and, consequently, they feature strongly as a target group in many marketing plans. Far from being simply the tech-driven, low tolerance switchers of their predecessors, these customers are defined as being more thoughtful and more compassionate with a stronger need for emotional connection. Here, the skills and capabilities of the agent are all the more critical and the design of the contact centre system needs to accommodate this.

That’s why agent adoption and strong voice functionality form the focus of our VoxivoCX Cloud Contact Centre. Listening to visitors on our stand, we’ve got it right.

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