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Industry Research : Deloitte Digital Research Determines Contact Centers Will Become Experience Hubs for Brands in 2021 and Beyond

#contactcenterworld, @deloitte

Deloitte Digital announced its "2021 Global Contact Center Survey," revealing the ways in which contact centers evolved over the last year and how they can become revenue generators and experience hubs. According to the survey, companies leading in customer service coming out of the pandemic are accelerating digital transformation, adopting new models for work and the workplace and reimagining their mix of service channels. Additionally, the survey found that customer experience remains the most important strategic focus for service leaders, a focus that is only expected to increase over the next two years.

The biennial survey was conducted from November 2020 to February 2021, gaining insights from global call center executives across a variety of industries and sectors. In Deloitte Digital's new report, "From cost center to experience hub: Tapping the potential of customer service to help drive business growth," key survey findings are shared along with five aligning trends:

Embracing unprecedented change through the cloud: Disruptions brought on by the pandemic led to many contact center leaders to up-level their digital transformation, with cloud technology at the center. At the end of 2020, only 32% of surveyed organizations were running contact center technologies in cloud; now, 75% expect to make the move within the next two years. More leaders now recognize that cloud is not simply a "nice to have," it is an imperative for doing business in a time when customers, competitors, markets and technologies can change in the blink of an eye.

Using AI to foster human connections at machine speed: AI stands to revolutionize contact center operations and customer experiences, which is why 79% of contact center leaders plan to invest in greater AI capabilities in the next two years. To complement and expand what's possible with AI, 2 in 3 have planned investments in process automation such as robotic process automation, customer resource management workflow optimization and "next best action."

Making work from home, work: Before the pandemic, only 6% of customer service agents, on average, worked from home. Today, 77% of service organizations are either adopting or accelerating their work-from-home programs and 80% of companies now plan to close their physical customer service centers entirely. To keep up, many contact center leaders are increasing investments to support employee and management needs, such as collaboration and teaming tools, remote training resources, dual monitors for agents and cloud-based telephony.

"Right-Channeling" or optimizing channels to connect customer journeys: While 11% of organizations can now transition customers across channels and experiences seamlessly, optimizing every possible experience on every channel isn't just difficult, it isn't really feasible for most businesses. Thirty-six percent of leaders say that despite the ongoing proliferation of service "front doors," customers have stuck with the same, familiar channels — primarily phone, the most expensive channel of all — to reach them. That's why many have turned to "right-channeling" to meet customers where they are in the moment and usher them each to the most appropriate channel to answer their needs.

Keeping it personal to serve business growth: Experience-focused leaders are shifting their orientations from an emphasis on reducing costs toward the goal of generating business and customer value. In fact, the percentage of service leaders whose top priority is increasing revenues will double in the next two years, while the percentage whose top priority is cost reduction will drop by 32%.

"Businesses understand the importance of customer experience to build trust and loyalty, but those that want to be leaders need to take the lessons learned during 2020 and invest in solutions for changing consumer needs. This starts with looking at your customer service capabilities and doubling down on digital transformation, new technologies and reimagined workplaces," said Andy Haas, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Service Transformation leader at Deloitte Digital. "Importantly, we've learned that contact centers have become vital to customer experience in ways that we hadn't seen before and will play a critical role in a strong service strategy."

"Contact centers that are focused on elevating customer experiences need the adaptability new technologies, like cloud and AI, provide in order to meet the shifting expectations of customers and to respond to changes in the competitive, regulatory and cultural environments," said Tim McDougal, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Contact Center offering leader at Deloitte Digital. "Our research found that those leading in the industry are already on this path and that others need to ensure they're doing the same, or risk losing customers."

This is the fifth publication of Deloitte's "Global Contact Center Survey," which has been published biennially since 2013. Deloitte surveyed global customer contact center executives between November 2020 and February 2021 regarding the current state of their businesses and what they perceive their business will be doing in the next two years. Respondents represent industries including consumer and industrial products; energy and resources; federal and public sector; financial services; life sciences and health care; services; travel and hospitality; and technology, media and telecommunications. Their contact centers serve varying customer bases touching both B2C and B2B as well as internal customers such as IT or HR help desks.

#contactcenterworld, @deloitte

Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

About Deloitte:
Company LogoDeloitte Consulting's Customer Operations and Contact Center Transformation practice provides advisory services on all aspects of Customer Interaction and Contact Center strategy, operations, organization, process, and enabling technology topics with a focus on executable insights and shareholder value.
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