Contact Center Technology: Where It’s Been and Where It’s Going

Contact center technology

Insight from a Technology Leader

My long history with CX started as a child, when I became fascinated by the switchboard my mother used as an operator for Mountain Bell. I made up games, playing with the switchboard and the many rotary phones throughout the house. Of course, I avoided calling those numbers with zeros and nines in them, because it took so long to dial. It’s not like it is today, where you can just say, “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google,” to dial so-and-so. Those days playing with the phones and switchboard gave me the foundation on which I have built my career. Two decades in the CX industry gives me a unique perspective on the contact center market, where it’s been, and where it’s going. 

A Look Back

Being in the industry for this many years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch how the contact center market has gone from the days of a “round robin” to the innovation of call queues. This changed the game. No more dialing/ringing and sitting idle while someone finished an interaction to pick up your calls. The next advancement gave individuals “skills,” so the most appropriate person would pick up the call based on the number dialed. Then came IVR, with advanced technology that used a non-rotary phone with touch tones to press the number. The IVR enabled sending signals across a wire to differentiate the type of call, and unifying the numbering system to a single 800 number. The tech evolved; there were now network service providers and technology vendors.  

We watched long-distance companies take software built for a premise-based phone solution initially into Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) vendors. CCaaS sought to fulfill the promise of a vendor-managed approach that was all-encompassing. This approach was not embraced by all in the beginning. I remember talking to some analysts while I was at a CCaaS vendor and asking how they’re rating CCaaS, and the analyst responded with, “We are not. It is not a thing.” Two years later, they were rating all the CCaaS vendors.   

Transformation accelerated as natural language technology improved. Nuance brought conversational natural language understanding (NLU) and voice biometrics to the market, and then the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) with bots. There is still confusion around this in many ways, especially from the customer perspective; nevertheless, it has exploded. I get contacted two to five times a week from new vendors in this space, wanting me to see and use their product (to date, I have personally evaluated more than 30 of them).

What the Future Holds

The transformation in this industry is amazing and exciting. We’ve come a long way from the days of the switchboard. The technology is constantly evolving to make things more efficient, more accessible, and better equipped to meet the business needs and the needs of the customer. In recent years, cloud contact centers have become the future of CX, bringing the advantages of scaling your operations, expanding reach, controlling costs, and increasing reliability. But, moving to the cloud isn’t always easy, and can seem daunting if you try to do it yourself. There are thousands of details to consider to ensure the solution runs smoothly and optimally, and many companies don’t have the staff or time to devote to figuring out those details. 

Luckily, these are challenges that can be overcome with the right partner. At Concentrix, we help our clients avoid these pitfalls by delivering the flexibility, consistency, and reliability needed to ensure optimal CX experiences to future-proof their business. We’re at the forefront of CX transformation with the depth and breadth of our contact center operations expertise.  

Learn more about how we can help you embrace the future of CX innovation by designing, building, and running cloud contact centers that are built to last. 

Andy Bird

VP Product Strategy