Customer Service call volumes are declining almost 10% each year

As it stands, customers don’t have a great perception of call centers. I mean, who would? Do you enjoy having to wait on hold, talk to multiple people, possibly get disconnected, and then your issue is still unresolved?
Those problems, paired with new technology, could mean that call centers don’t take calls or cease to exist completely over the next few decades. Here are a few potential scenarios that could play out.
Contact Centers Will Still Take Calls
One possibility is that call centers will still exist and do the same things they do today…meaning nothing changes. As long as people use phones to communicate, brands will need to connect with their customers through phones. It simply boils down to human interaction. Customers tend to trust people more than they trust machines. There’s something to be said for talking to a person who can understand a situation, especially the emotion involved. 74% of people contact customer service via phone, more than they use any other channel. To many people, it’s even worth waiting on hold or navigating through a phone tree to speak to a human.
The contact center is often the emotional component of a brand. Its purpose is to provide real-time voice communication to solve problems. Finding a solution or venting to a real person is much more emotional and cathartic than doing it online or to a bot. Humans are needed for advice and decision-making and companies that create memorable interactions with technology instead of replacing them could be the most successful.
Call Contact Centers Won’t Exist
On the other side of the spectrum is the possibility that contact centers will disappear completely. As digital technology grows, many customers care more about getting their problems solved quickly more than about how it gets done. If this is the case, efficiency will be the deciding factor. AI (artificial intelligence) and automated responses can be efficient in solving many customer issues, especially for questions like tracking products, getting refunds and answering basic information. As technology grows and is able to understand more involved questions, it could be more efficient that humans in particular areas.

Contact Centers Will Evolve
This is the in-between solution. The idea that call centers will still exist, but how they interact with and serve customers will change dramatically. This is probably the most likely solution of them all.
Automated response systems could analyze customer issues before routing the call to the correct associate. Instead of having to explain the situation or talk through a phone tree multiple times, AI could know the customer’s history with the brand and their situation and then forward the call to an agent who can solve the problem right away.
There’s also the idea that contact centers will evolve to cloud-based centers. Instead of the costs involved to maintain a physical call center, more companies will use virtual systems. Agents can work remotely and answer calls and queries from home. It allows for more flexibility to respond to customers through the channel they prefer and creates a better experience for employees.
“I really can’t see the call center dying out until there are AI agents that can deal with customer queries as well as a human being can”, says Phillip Catterall, Senior Forecast Analyst at Experian. “If you’re running a heavily scripted call center then we’re probably not a million miles away from that now. But if you are dealing with something of any complexity – that isn’t just ‘customer provides input, agent provides output based on input’ – then you’re going to need people, and therefore contact centers.”

Steve Morell, Managing Partner at ContactBabel, interviewed senior staff members at over 200 British contact centers. He found that contact centers seem to be preparing for a rise in usage of various inbound channels, including webchat and social media, which have been gradually falling in traffic volume over the last couple of years.
This is most likely because, as the generations become more comfortable with digital technology, it is only logical that younger people would prefer to use non-voice channels. Steve believes that his findings show that “contact centers aren’t becoming obsolete, they’re merely reacting to the changing ways in which customers want to communicate with businesses.”
“While we can’t see the number of advisors increasing greatly in the future, the vast majority of digital interactions (email, social and webchat) are still being handled by humans if self-service isn’t appropriate or effective. It’s noticeable in the case of complaints (and other complex or high-emotion situations), voice is still the preferred method of communication.”
The next 10 to 20 years could see a major change in how contact centers operate and connect with customers. These decades will decide the role technology and human interaction plays in the customer experience.
That’s not to say that contact center calls will still dominate in 10-20 years, but according to many people, they will still be an option that some customers will take advantage of.