5 New Year’s CX Predictions from Mike Burkland and Sheila McGee-Smith

Unpack the predictions of the Five9 CEO and one of the customer experience world’s most prominent analysts

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5 New Year’s CX Predictions from Mike Burkland and Sheila McGee-Smith
Contact CentreInsights

Published: January 5, 2023

Charlie Mitchell

In 2022, customer messaging gained ground, voice automation garnered more excitement, and the boundaryless contact center grew stronger.

These trends will continue to make headway in 2023. However, others will also make their presence felt as customer experience software advances, AI matures, and a recession looms.

Against this backdrop, Mike Burkland, Chairman & CEO of Five9, and Sheila McGee-Smith, President & Principal Analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, share their top five CX predictions for 2023.

1. CCaaS Adoption By Large Enterprises Will Accelerate

In recent years, legacy contact center vendors have slowed their on-premises innovation efforts, bidding to move customers to the cloud.

However, in 2022, these vendors made this aim much more explicit. As McGee-Smith notes:

“Brands came out and said: “I’m not going to put any innovation on this [legacy solution]. I’m going to kill this very soon, or – as a business – I’m going to implode.”

Genesys became the latest brand to make such an announcement, funnelling all its funds into its public cloud solution while ditching its hybrid cloud platform and legacy innovation.

These moves are providing the catalyst for CCaaS adoption in large enterprises. Those that sat on the fence, viewing the cloud as a future consideration, are now moving much more rapidly.

In addition, many of the more conventional contact centers, which thought their legacy voice infrastructure would continue to serve them, now understand that this is perhaps not the case.

Recognizing this trend, Burkland states:

“This is a market that has evolved over the last several years, but we’ve now reached an inflection point.”

Burkland also notes three other movements in the market that will accelerate the adoption of CCaaS in large enterprises this year. These are:

  1. The strategic importance of customer experience is a central driver for enterprises that want to innovate quickly.
  2. The growing maturity of CCaaS solutions, which deliver the scalability, reliability, and breadth of functionalities to replace legacy infrastructure.
  3. The possible AI and automation ROI, as businesses realize a significant labor arbitrage opportunity for which cloud is the gateway.

“We are seeing a very dramatic moment as we head into 2023,” concludes McGee-Smith.

2. AI Hype Is Over. Now It’s Real

Consider the recent excitement around ChatGPT3 across the CX space. That speaks to the notion that “the hype is over.” Intelligent AI applications are out there, and the industry is ready to embrace AI and learn about what is coming next.

Indeed, contact center leaders are no longer saying: “That’s not for us. That’s far in the future.” Instead, they say: “Where are the best places for me to apply that in the short-term?”

Making this point, McGee-Smith highlights many emerging AI use cases.

“We’re seeing brands implement AI on the front end, with conversational AI. You can do it in the middle of the call with agent-assist… Then, on the back end, it’s post-call automation and data management, ensuring it flows where it’s supposed to.

“So, yes, the hype is over. Now it’s about how. What is right for my business?”

Of course, as Burkland stresses, AI is still in its early stages. “There is an evolution, and it will go deeper over the coming years.”

Yet, looking into the crystal ball, Burkland adds:

“Instead of automating those routine, repeatable interactions – which are the lowest-hanging fruit for automation – we will leverage additional AI solutions, and you’ll see things like GPT3 and other large language models that will change the game. It’ll be a new world.”

An excellent example is that GPT4 is almost ready, and GPT5 is already on course.

Just like there was server to cloud, cloud to public cloud, AI is the next frontier of software as it keeps moving forward.

3. Contact Center Agents Play a More Strategic Role in CX

Does the following narrative sound familiar? As contact centers automate more tasks, agents can focus on high-value interactions, not the mundane repeat calls.

Many vendors have banged this drum, and this trend is happening – in the sense that agents are handling more complex conversations and taking on a more consultative role.

Yet, as the agent role evolves, so must their experience. After all, transactional contacts provided teams with the opportunity to take a breather. Without this, added complexity can lead to burnout.

Here is where the concept of collaborative intelligence gains momentum. As Burkland says:

“The collaborative intelligence concept revolves around helping agents appear more knowledgeable across new disciplines. As we leverage new technologies – like WEM – that allows agents to appreciate what a great customer experience really is and what it takes to deliver that in a more consultative, high-value way.”

Such a concept may seem distant for contact centers that have invested in sophisticated routing technologies to send contacts to agents for specific reasons that align with their training.

Yet, with tools like agent-assist, operations can help agents seem much more knowledgeable than they have in the past. Technology is supporting that.

“What is also exciting is that CCaaS and WEM are much more typically delivered by a single vendor,” adds McGee-Smith. “The ability of those two things to play off each other is transformational.”

An example is how the workforce engagement portfolio is expanding to include gamification, which helps tie the contact center and its remote workforce together.

4. Automated Quality Insights Change Performance Management

Quality assurance (QA) is perhaps a contact center’s best weapon in its agent experience arsenal. It helps to motivate agents, inspire behavior changes, and pinpoint critical service experience issues that frustrate them.

Nevertheless, as operations face heightened disruption, QA playbooks have started to gather dust. Indeed, 88 percent of service leaders say their current quality assurance processes are ineffective and rarely match up with their customers’ view of quality.

Such research supports Burkland’s claim that “many enterprises don’t know what great looks like.”

“Thankfully, automated quality management helps contact centers to identify their superstars and allows other agents to learn from their great interactions, at scale.”

Yet, this technology is not new. It hit the market five years ago. So, why will it have more of an impact in 2023?

Increased transcription accuracy is one potential reason. Also, as McGee-Smith states:

“There has been more consumer use and exposure to transcription, which gives contact centers more faith in it.”

Indeed, many employees sit on video calls and see live transcriptions, watching AI in action, which may result in operations placing more faith in technologies like automated quality management.

Finally, as McGee-Smith suggests: “There’s a realization that it’s time to spend money here.”

“2022 was the year of agent empowerment, the year of quiet quitting, and the year of The Great Resignation… I saw much more investment in agent empowerment tools, and that will definitely continue in 2023.”

5. Businesses Will Increase Their Attention on Customer Data and Privacy

With more competition across many industries, businesses have witnessed the rise of the “empowered customer”.

Many of these customers, including those in Gen X and Z, have become more willing to say: “I have empowered you with my information. I’ve allowed you to use my face ID to access my bank account. As a result, I expect you to use that data.”

However, this comes with a caveat: they expect businesses to keep it safe.

In light of this status quo, Burkland says:

“We have to use data to help AI engines work and learn along the way. But, we have to also balance that with data privacy – and the cloud is the best place to do that.”

Thanks to the regular updates within cloud data solutions, companies can keep up with changing regulations and harness the latest security innovations.

Large enterprises can perhaps do so with legacy platforms, but the cloud simplifies the process and opens up additional security measures for SMBs.

Learn More from Five9 and McGee-Smith

The insights within this article stem from a fascinating webinar entitled: “What’s Next: Contact Center Predictions for 2023.”

Alongside these predictions, Burkland and McGee-Smith summarized the state of CX in 2022, dissected Five9’s future, and participated in an engaging Q&A.

Register now to check out all this for yourself. Or, if you’d like to dig deeper into any of the technologies discussed in this article, visit Five9.



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Brands mentioned in this article.


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