Wanted – Innovative Technology Ideas for the Contact Center

Recently, I was asked by an executive at Interactive Intelligence about how excited contact center leaders get over cool new technology. “How jacked up would they get over smart watches or voice biometrics? If we could give them what they wanted in future technology, what would be on the list of cool things they would salivate to get?”

Uncharacteristically, I was at a loss for words on how to respond. I came to the realization that it was because contact center people are mainly doers, executors, tactically-driven people that get things done. We’re not dreamers. We take action. Successfully managing the incessant demands of contact centers requires us to be wired for action.

We’re in the weeds trying to figure out how many customer contacts we’re going to get in the next hour and for the next year- for all channels. And the average handle times for all channels and all queues. And, how many agents will be on FMLA or call in sick. The list goes on and on.

We need to plan the future and we need to have our finger on the pulse what’s going on right now to make sure we meet our customer experience objectives. Maybe it’s time for us to play a more powerful role in our destiny. Instead of reacting to the cool technology that comes our way, we should state our case for what we want. Better still, what we need.

Our world is complex and this trend will continue as customer demand for SMS, mobility, and video increases. Outbound dialer is becoming the proactive tool for contacting the customer before they contact you. Big data is rolling down the tracks and will change the way we do business with our customers in a major way. It’s daunting, I agree, but it’s coming.

So what do you say? How about we rock our own world before it gets rocked for us? Here are some thoughts to get your motor running:

  1. What about translating speech to other languages in real time? This was an idea posed by my colleague. Think of it. When a caller speaks Spanish, Mandarin, German, it will automatically be translated to the language you choose. Very cool.
  2. Today with speech analytics we can word spot keywords and phrases in real time and recorded calls for service related and competitive purposes. What else can we do with speech analytics?
  3. Surely the agent desktops could use some cool technology. There are loads of opportunities for more coolness there, right? Ask your agents. They always come up with great ideas.
  4. Video kiosks. Have you been to a casino lately? Played black jack with a life size video dealer? Productive and efficient. Any innovative applications for video?
  5. Interactive voice response systems are certainly in need of more coolness. They are very functional and certainly serve a useful purpose. Natural language speech is a definitely cool. What about fingerprints or retinas on an app to authenticate a caller?

The growth of multichannel access to contact centers has brought multiple challenges along with it, right? Think about what innovation in technology would enable you to be more successful in achieving your goals. Email me your feedback on the ideas above or add your cool ideas in the comments section here to share with others. I will share them with the folks that thrive on making the seemingly impossible, a reality.


Marilyn Saulnier

Marilyn Saulnier

I am a principal consultant at Interactive Intelligence with over 25 years of contact center management and consulting experience. I manage a global team of contact center consultants that work with organizations to define the center’s strategy, improve the center’s efficiency and quality of the customer experience, redesign processes, and implement and manage change. I'm also a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has led many training seminars in the US and abroad. I've also published articles in the Contact Center Pipeline, Middle-East Customer Management Insight, and Call Center Management Review.