What does 5G mean for the future of contact centres?

Talk of 5G has hit the headlines plenty of times over the last few months, and not necessarily always in a positive way. From discussions about government legislation and security to the impact it will have on day to day life, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. But what effect will this new technology have on businesses? More specifically, what does this mean for contact centres? 

To begin with, let’s first understand what 5G actually is. The roll out of 5G is anticipated to service major cities in the UK by next year, with mass market roll outs expected before 2022. 

Users will have lightning fast connectivity (around 10x the speed of 4G). With this comes a huge capacity for remote streaming, and super-high resolution 4K video calling will become widely available. As well as this, according to Vodafone, 5G uses millimetre wave spectrum, meaning vastly more devices will be supported concurrently: 4G currently supports around 4,000 devices per km², 5G can support around 1 million.

While those figures are indeed staggering, let’s not forget that the rise of 5G is a natural progression of the technological advancements we’ve seen over the last decade. 

The 2010s saw the rise of smartphone dominance. With large, high resolution screens and widely accessible broadband (and 4G) connectivity, we began to use our phones for more than just communication. Websites started being designed to be ‘mobile-first’ to fit consumer demand, as more people started browsing websites and shopping through their phones. By the latter half of the decade, it was clear that websites were no longer merely shop windows, but one of the most lucrative revenue streams for companies across most sectors and industries. 

As we move into the 2020s, hyper intuitive and agile technology has become commonplace. As such, it’s no great surprise that businesses today are primarily focused on delivering a great customer experience. In fact, research by Gartner shows that two thirds of companies claim to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, making it a more important competitive differentiator than price or product. 

READ MORE: Are Mobile Networks Ready for the Streaming Data Tsunami?

As well as this, customers expect service to be fast, helpful and convenient. They also want the quality of service to remain consistent across every channel they use, and expect businesses to adopt the same communication methods that they use for day-to-day, personal use.

All of this means that contact centres are going to have to step up to the plate if they want to deliver that all-important customer experience. Customers are already using an array of channels like video calling and social media to communicate on a personal basis. Companies can risk damaging their customer’s journeys if they don’t offer customers the option to communicate through channels they have become familiar with.

As it stands, video is yet to become a mass-market adopted channel for customer service communications. Despite this, some trailblazing companies are already making strides with video, taking full advantage of the versatile service it enables. 

Bravissimo, a British retailer, are using video calling powered by Talkative which integrates directly into their Mitel contact centre environment. They use video and cobrowse to offer personalised consultations and fittings services for online customers who can’t easily access a store, but still want a face to face experience. 

This of course leads to the other important aspect for businesses to consider: how they are going to manage these workflows coming in from all these new and different channels? 

Offering customers an array of fast and convenient contact channels will only work if the responses are equally fast and convenient. If the contact centre systems in place are clunky and inefficient, this will only lead to longer wait times and lower customer satisfaction, which ultimately negates the money spent investing in shiny new contact channels. 

With the advent of 5G and the hyper-connectivity it promises, contact centres must be well-equipped to cope with an increased volume of interactions through multiple channels, and the easiest way to do it is through a centralised dashboard, essentially offering a single pane of glass for the agent. In order to match customer demand, a 5G ready contact centre must be agile and fluid. Agents need to be able to swap in and out of calls, chats, videos, emails and more with ease and efficiency. This helps to create a truly seamless user experience, where customers’ needs are met properly and businesses are ready to handle the 5G revolution. 

Patsy Nearkhou

Patsy Nearkhou is the Marketing Manager at Talkative, a tech startup which provides integrated contact centre solutions such as live chat, web calling, video calling and cobrowsing. Patsy loves to create content around customer experience, customer service and emerging tech within these fields. A big personality with lots of ideas and opinions, Patsy is known for her bubbly personality.