Dimension Data Benchmarking Study
What are the biggest changes in the contact center space in the past year? Or the past 18 years? Dimension Data can tell you. Since 1997, Dimension Data has been surveying call center (I’m American so I’ll go with the American version of center, rather than centre) management to get information on trends, technologies, interaction methods, and other items impacting the contact center market, in order to capture the information that’s most relevant to the industry and its future. The 2015 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report is based on a comprehensive survey that is refreshed every year, making it possible to identify and quantify trends and operational performance of contact centers.
The survey of 901 participants pinpoints what Paul Scott, a Dimension Data global consulting executive, considers the most significant change with profound implications for the way organizations look at the delivery of customer service –the rise of the digital interactions and channels. According to the report, 74% of the contact centers surveyed see overall interactions increasing in the next two years; 42% say that voice traffic will decrease, while non-voice traffic will rise in 87% of the contact centers. The report states that, “We may have reached a productivity ‘sweet spot’ for voice, as major changes are neither required, nor desired.” This has serious implications for contact center staffing and training, and for the entire customer experience.
Scott notes that “Customers are choosing to go down the digital route to self serve or web chat rather than speak to an agent.” He explains that interactions that are taking place over voice with an agent are more complex and critical interactions. “This means that we need to focus much more on getting highly trained and skilled staff to answer the query. Voice is the channel of last resort and the moment of truth. If companies can’t resolve the issue on the voice channel, it impacts customer satisfaction.”
Here are the key insights identified by the benchmarking study:
1. Go digital or die. Digital contact channels (including web chat, email, SMS, smartphone apps, self-service apps) are establishing themselves as a first choice option for customers and organizations. Ten years ago there was no web chat, social media, SMS, and very little email, but today digital interactions account for over 35% of all interactions and at the current rate will overtake voice in two years.
Operational growth will be via non-voice channels. Digital channels, enabled by mobility, will lead to short-term growth within the industry. The survey found an 85% net uplift of non-voice channels, and a 16% net decrease in the use of voice. The non-voice opportunity is significant in terms of cost, performance and customer experience. The challenge is to harness the new channels while improving the customer experience. Efficiency is the key driver, as call deflection was cited as the top priority. Digital channels are being used across all engagement types, while social media is being used mostly for complaints. 84% of companies providing web chat facilities, do so via their company's website service pages, but just 52% of users provide web chat on their sales pages. In addition, over 8% of the survey participants have video chat capabilities today, while another 15% will have it in 12 months. Companies need to get ready for video as a channel, which will have huge impacts on the types of agents hired, as well as how to interact with customers over a visual medium.
2. Customer experience levels are cited as crucial, with 75%of companies recognizing service as a competitive differentiator, which is up 18% in two years. However, customer experience levels dropped for the fourth consecutive year, while first contact resolution (FCR) has remained steady for the last four years, speed to answer has gone up from 29.9 seconds to 39 seconds. Customer service is undergoing transformation, but businesses are not delivering a better customer experience. Although customer experience management is the new mantra, companies need to figure out how to deliver a better experience over digital channels.
According to the report, “Unfortunately, quality of service is still out of sync with both traditional voice and, importantly, today’s tech-savvy consumer. This is accentuated by a lack of quality measurement in non-voice channels, despite an improvement on previous years. As a result, customer satisfaction has fallen to its lowest level since 2011.“
3. Analytics hold the key. Contact centers gather huge amounts of customer data, and analytics is reshaping the customer management landscape. 53% of the organizations surveyed highlight analytics as doing the most to reshape the industry in the next five years, but 40% have no data analysis tools. The use of analytics is the key to attaining greater insights, improving agent productivity, and improving the customer experience. As the study points out, “Big data and analytics tools are predicted to be the strongest trend to shape the industry over the next five years. Understanding the intricacies of individual transactions, as well as the context of customer behavior over multiple contacts and channels, is paramount. It will help the organization address customers’ issues, shape their experiences, and enrich the engagement, creating greater value for both parties.”
4. Rising IT dependency is driving cloud and hybrid ownership. Organizations want to outsource the ownership of the equipment, or utilize some kind of hybrid architecture to provide more flexibility. 34% of contact centers without a hosted solution are planning for a hosted solution. 89% of current cloud users agree that the cloud has reduced costs.
The contact center is changing – and organizations need to be ready for those changes. Kudos to Dimension Data for providing such important information to businesses with contact centers. Hopefully these businesses will take the necessary steps to improve their contact center operations without sacrificing the customer experience and customer satisfaction.
This paper is sponsored by Dimension Data.