Current Trends and Challenges Impacting Contact Centres

Spread the love
Contact centres have undergone an irreversible evolution over the last decade. Digital contact – in the form of email, web chat, social media, and self-service channels – continues its explosive growth as popular engagement method.
This change strikes at the heart of tradition. It means that more and more contact centre customers around the world no longer want to use the telephone to communicate with organisations. In fact, should the evolution continue at its current pace, our research shows that digital will overtake voice-based contact within two years. Why? Because customers demand it. The new generation of tech-savvy consumers entering the market – mostly Generation Y – use the phone only as a last resort for queries that couldn’t be solved in any other way. Customers younger than 40 would much rather use social media and web chat than any other way of achieving their desired service outcomes.
So, for contact centres, the message is clear: incorporate digital channels into your overall engagement strategy, or face extinction.
In addition, we analyse the current state, development gaps, business impacts, and emerging trends driven by the growing need for an integrated experience in an omnichannel environment. Customers not only want access to multiple engagement methods, but also want a frictionless, easy, and immediate journey across channels.
This has tightened organisations’ focus on the customer. Nearly three-quarters recognise the contact centre as an important competitive differentiator and gauge its performance predominantly by the impact it has on customer experience. The result is greater pressure on data and analysis. Analytics is seen by the majority of contact centres as the most likely factor to change the industry over the next five years. But the challenge is that many aren’t measuring the performance of digital channels well enough yet. It’s particularly worrying that four out of ten centres still have no data analysis capability at all. So, if the digital revolution is to be embraced appropriately, there’s ample room for improvement and growth.
Going digital – the industry is massively unprepared:
• Customers want a frictionless, easy, and immediate journey on channels of their choice. They want a connected omnichannel journey across channels.
• Complexity levels are intensifying as contact centres evolve into channel resolution hubs.
• Resource models need a broader approach – cost and effort measures are frequently ignored, with digital as the worst affected.
• Analytics are neglected and information systems are not integrated.
• Customer experience levels are cited as key, yet satisfaction levels are dropping year on year.
• Rising IT dependency is driving cloud and hybrid ownership: technology dependencies will force improved integration across hybrid architecture models (of hosted and owned IT).
Strategy and Innovation
A major change is occurring, not just in the structure of contact centres, but also across the broader service industry. The digital revolution is forcing us to adapt or die. It’s time to help your contact centre face the change and take the first steps towards a dawning future.
The telephone-centric contact centre stereotype is no longer valid. In some areas, digital interactions are starting to exceed voice contacts. Strategically, there’s a shift in mindset from mass service to mass personalisation. Organisations have started to recognise that, out of all the changes in the market, increased digital interaction offers the most opportunity.
Big Data and analytics tools are predicted to be the biggest trend to shape the contact centre industry over the next five years. Understanding the intricacies of individual transactions, as well as the context of customer behaviour over multiple contacts and channels, is paramount. It will help the organisation address customers’ issues, shape their experiences, and enrich the engagement, creating greater value for both parties.
The combination of technology that’s creating an omnichannel environment and the ability to analyse and act in real-time provides powerful resources to create a productive, digital customer engagement model.
Customer engagement models are going digital. Can your organisation keep up? In the short term, it may not have a choice.
Overall, 41.8% of contact centres forecast a reduction in voice contacts, while 87.0% expect an increase in non-voice interactions. Digital convenience will drive additional contacts, as acknowledged by 73.8% of contact centres that anticipate this increase within two years. This will change the shape of contact centres forever.
Channel Management
Over 50% of organisations will soon be managing a multichannel contact centre, featuring at least eight different forms of contact methods. Seven of these are digital. The mix is malleable and growing. Visual engagement has appeared on organisations’ agendas, and 23.5% of contact centres will have a video chat capability within the next year.
A key challenge for contact centres is maintaining integration levels with a view to
providing consistent services across channel offerings.
Smart apps to grow to 54% by 2016, Web chat will more than double to 70%, Social media already at 43%
It’s no longer enough to provide isolated channels; consumers want an omnichannel experience, that is, to use different media to complete what may be a single enquiry. These interactions need to be frictionless. At this point, the industry appears to be massively underprepared to deliver against a new set of digital requirements.
The increase in channels and applications that customers use for work, home, and play means that the channel strategy needs to be extensible. The capability to produce an outcome for the customer in all areas of the process is critical. Channel silos need to be removed, support strategies using bridging technologies such as web chat and call-back need to be understood and incorporated.
Empowered customer engagement teams require insights and real-time analytics to support the resolution of complex requests. The point of success is when the customer’s desired outcome is achieved through an effortless experience. Adding new channels without considering the omnichannel experience will create a confusion of contact options, which will only frustrate the customer.
The role of the contact centre has changed. Today, traditional call centres are most often used to support assisted-service channels, or when accessible channels aren’t available or have failed. Customers want resolutions. This is where the contact centre can use emotional triggers to create brand differentiation. Every customer contact is an opportunity to create an emotional trigger. It occurs not necessarily when a customer’s issue is resolved, but when the customer is made to feel special and wanted. Customers then connect with the services and perceive the brand’s value emotionally.
These triggers also help to maintain the organisation’s reputation by improving a customer’s perception of the engagement. Ease
of resolution is a primary concern that will influence the customer’s view of the organisation’s services, but it’s not where the
desired experience should end. Contact centres can either recover, or lose a customer’s loyalty. By better personalising offerings, organisations can create more opportunities for emotional triggers.
Beyond multichannel, contact centres want to create a structured omnichannel strategy. They have to determine not just what works for the consumer, but also the impact that each new interaction path may have on the business, and its positive and negative consequences. For example, are sales conversion rates stronger over the telephone, or can an assisted online interaction provide the same value?
A shift in focus is required from the success or failure of isolated customer interactions, to the success or failure of personalised integrated customer journeys. The goal should be creating genuine business value. Enhance that focus by understanding your customers’ emotional triggers. Analytics holds the key.
While digital is fast becoming a preference, the reality is that consumers want outcomes. A continuous and effortless transition between channels will increasingly become a competitive differentiator. In fact, it’s this frictionless switching between channels that defines the omnichannel experience. And while it’s now expected by consumers, the industry is still slow to catch up.
To date, digital channels have strengthened through either a rush to establish presence, or for the single purpose of cost reduction through call deflection to self-service. Obviously, these are important operational considerations and a significant change of focus is now required. A user-centric and channel-agnostic approach to customer service design has much to offer towards creating a cohesive and continuous customer experience across the organisation.
Operationally, the need for cost reduction as the primary driver for implementing self-/assisted-service channels has almost doubled in the last year. Yet, less than 40% of organisations review self-service and assisted – service channel performance on a regular basis. This means that the return on investment (ROI) is difficult to demonstrate, which impacts future investment decisions. Organisations that can’t measure the experience within digital channels are in danger of losing touch with customer sentiment.
This will become a more critical issue with the continuing trend towards digital engagement.
This lack of focus on the customer experience inhibits the adoption of those channels, ironically diluting the realisation of the cost-reduction business case. At the same time, the trend is towards more digital engagement, and significant strategic emphasis is placed on customer experience. Tighter management controls, improved analytics, and more active marketing of the digital capability to customers will quickly result in volume growth which, to date, has fallen below targets
Technology: New buying options make new technology possible
Today’s customers are always online, and are increasingly impatient. Despite clear indications of growing consumer appetite for the use of social channels as a contact medium, contact centres are slow to react. In fact, our results for new media, in conjunction with customer preferences for digital channels, suggest that organisations are massively underprepared for the new digital age.
The biggest blockages to contact centre’s advancement of their technology capabilities revolve around flexibility, the ability to integrate, and the costs linked to creating the required architecture. However, the speed at which the digital revolution is affecting contact centres can no longer be ignored. A worrying 78.7% of operations point out that their current, often telephone-centric systems won’t meet their future needs, and many are already failing. Add omnichannel aspirations to the mix, and the situation could get worse. This is forcing vendors and consumers alike to explore new buying options and design innovative technology frameworks.
The emergence of cloud technology platforms offers new choices to contact centre providers. We’re starting to notice significant changes in how organisations are both provisioning and maintaining their technology systems.
In the last 12 months, contact centres choosing pure ownership models have reduced by 22.6%. Of contact centres that aren’t using hosted/cloud solutions yet, 34.2% are considering a hosted technology model in the near future. Add this to the existing
user base, and it’s apparent that hybrid solutions blending cloud architectures with legacy technologies are gaining popularity across the industry.
These solutions will require integration, and the ability to deliver optimal functionality will greatly depend on the quality of the implementation as you journey towards a connected omnichannel experience. You may need multiple applications to get the result that you want with your customers. But don’t get left behind
The most common challenges for hosted cloud solutions are reliability and technology uptime, but concerns and negative experiences fall far short of positive feedback. There are generally four promoters to every negative rating. Of all users, 4.5% have decided pay-as-you-use services aren’t for them, that the benefits aren’t being realised, and they’re having the systems removed.
While there are some compelling results from existing cloud users about the benefits of hosted solutions, it’s important to acknowledge that cloud isn’t an excuse for having no strategy. So, should you explore a cloud strategy for your contact centre?
Yes, but your organisation should understand why you’re investigating a cloud solution and ensure that there’s a strategy in place. Cloud isn’t an all-or-nothing decision. You need to know where, when, how, and why you want to leverage its benefits