Industry Research : Big Changes for Future Contact Centers
Dimension Data, the global information and communications technology (ICT) services and solutions provider, announces the results of its 2013/2014 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report, which uncovers significant challenges and emerging trends indicating that the contact center of the future requires a new caliber of technology and resources to keep clients engaged and employees happy.
To extract this information, Dimension Data surveyed 817 participants covering 11 business sectors in 79 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Australia, and the Middle East & Africa. Participants of the survey revealed the following:
- Customers are increasingly dissatisfied with their contact center experiences, especially Generation X and Y, who demand a choice of multiple interaction points beyond phone calls, including web chat, smartphone applications and social media.
- As contact centers continue to transition their communications platforms, front-line customer service staff are leaving their positions at a growing rate.
- Web chat communications systems may be the remedy for increasing end-user dissatisfaction, as customers increasingly expect seamless interaction transitions from one channel to the next.
Contact center workers, end users remain dissatisfied
Contact centers are on an evolutionary path to become highly responsive, cross-channel multimedia hubs. This transformation is creating increased complexity for contact center agents because they are not always hired or trained to communicate within these new channels. As a result, contact center agent absenteeism is three times higher than contact center management; agent attrition is up an alarming 26 percent over 2012 rates. The 2013/2014 Contact Center Benchmarking Report notes that organizations must revamp their operating models, starting with properly trained agents – or risk losing them.
"The pace of technology adoption by end users is driving contact centers to evolve and gather speed, which means the complexity of transactions has increased. Organizations haven't kept pace with technology and are operating outdated systems," explains Andrew McNair, Dimension Data's Head of Global Benchmarking. "There's no doubt that if management does not plan for increased contact center agent competency, and develop skills across multiple channels and disciplines, these organizations will fail."
Customer satisfaction is also down for the fourth year running. Contact resolution rates have dropped for a fourth consecutive year, leaving customers with a three-in-four chance of having their issue resolved when contacting a service provider.
Preparing for multichannel engagement starts with hanging up the telephone
The global report shows that for Generation Y – individuals born between 1980 and 2000 – the phone is now the third choice of engagement after electronic messaging and smartphone applications. In addition, the preference gaps for Generation X (individuals born between 1961 and 1989) between phone, messaging, and social media is also narrowing.
Almost one third (31.8%) of contact center advisers are now handling transactions across a variety of emerging channels, such as smartphone applications. Social media and/or web chat deployments are also on the rise: 50.6 percent of contact centers currently offer, or have plans to implement, a web chat solution. The number of planned deployments increased 27.2 percent over the past 12 months, with a further 13.7 percent of survey participants expecting to have a solution in place over the next two years.
The report shows that organizations are aiming to shift 32.6 percent of contacts typically handled by agents to self-service channels. However, organizations under pressure to meet multichannel demands have rushed the haphazard implementation of solutions that only address one channel. As a result, self-help options in the contact center are not catching on as expected, and isolated technology systems are hindering the multichannel consumer experience. Omnichannel is the way forward, and customers want to hop seamlessly across channels and experience true connectedness. Omnichannel interactions that start on one channel and then continue on another, such as web chat, are no longer a "nice to have" feature, but a necessity.
"Organizations don't need one strategy for the contact center, one for the web, another for mobile, and one for social media. They need a single, unified strategy for customer contact across all channels, for all purposes. If contact center leaders can raise their game, they can be the ones to drive it. The big danger for now is non-action," McNair concludes.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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