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The Obituary of the Call Center

Without any fanfare the Telephone as we know it died. 

This is not an opinion.  Half of all phone calls are spam calls. I think the word “call” is now a dirty word. 

Call centers have rebranded themselves as contact centers.

The largest providers of Automatic Call Distributors want you to know they do not sell Call Center Technology. One of them just sold to Zoom.

They will all tell you they now sell something called CCaaS – Contact Center as a Service. 

What they won’t say is they were on the highway to irrelevance if they didn’t ditch the telephone – the Call center is dead.

I will stop trying to convince you…

Let me instead focus on what you need to know if you are running a call – I mean…. contact center.

  1. Voice is very much alive and growing – it’s just the Telephone we hate. We love to talk, even my 17 year old Gen Z son loves voice. The implications for you is to understand how your customers use voice and have a clearly articulated strategy. Making your bot voice capable is a start, hopping on smart speakers trend may or may not be a good idea. Point is none of those things count as a strategy.  Have a voice strategy.
  2. Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) Remember the call center technology behemoths who know longer want to be branded as the phone guys? They are out of the call center business and are now in the Contact Center as a Service business (CCaaS). What the heck does that all mean – they want to not just handle your calls but all your other channels, the agent desktop, a chatbot, make you toast, and order you lunch, it is an obvious land grab. Here’s how to make sense of it. Close your eyes and imagine it is 2005. The ACD guys are Blockbuster video. They may end up evolving and becoming Netflix but history says odds are not in their favor. Before you hand them the keys to your entire contact center after you see a demo, please pay attention. CCaaS is a coup attempt – but it is also an opportunity. I see an opportunity for you, depending on your situation.  For example your ability to solve Omnichannel might get easier around the margins. All that said you are making a bet that blockbuster will get out of its own way and become Netflix. Don’t get yourself fired picking the wrong horse.
  3. Communication Platform as a Service or CPaaS – Like you don’t have enough acronyms – they are the new kids on the contact center block. There are two players that look very much like they could end up being Netflix. In addition all your CRM providers have gone head first into voice. Listen to them, it won’t cost you a penny, you have some time. Educate yourself and really explore your options with the players.
  4. You need new talent – Look around the room if your organization is filled with people who are telephone first, you are in trouble but you have some time. Start with your leadership and make sure everyone on your team is educated about this topic. IT especially may need education on this. The contact center is in the middle of a change that has not happened since I got in the game in the Clinton administration. You are not ready. No one is. You can be a little less not ready by reaching out for help. If you don’t like that idea, contact your sales representative and sit through their sales pitch but this time you drive to the meeting, ask lots of questions. It will help you develop your own point of view.

That’s it, as always criticism, and other thoughts are welcome.