This article has been getting a lot of comments across social networks recently. Whilst I agree with the overall sentiment about contact centres dissapearing as collaboration goes enterprise wide (I’ve predicted this myself in the past), a big change in the way that organisations approach customer service is needed before we get there.
Technology is not a barrier. Collaboration tools already exist to share information within a company and between a company and its customers, presence based systems are showing availability outside of organisations, and communication sessions can be seamless regardless of geographical location.
The barrier is culture. The majority of organisations currently treat their customer service as a standalone group, that is there to be efficient, low-cost, low impact and reactive. Getting rid of contact centres would mean turning your organisation inside out, making everyone responsible for customer service. Instilling in everyone the importance of answering the phone quickly, and resolving customer issues quickly (on the first call). Putting service at the heart of what your company does, and having an annual report that includes traditional customer service metrics alongside financial ones.
In short, organisations will need to start believing in customer service, rather than paying lip service to it. Unfortunately, given the service delivered by some companies today (from departments that are meant to be focused on delivering service!), this culture change to making everyone believe in customer service will be a long hard road.