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The call center industry relies heavily on understanding the trends that affect client communications and ultimately lead to customer satisfaction. With new technologies, channels, and expectations, it’s essential that leaders stay on top of their game to offer the best customer experience.
Here are the top 12 trends that contact center leaders need to understand and address this year, in order to stay competitive and deliver a great customer experience.
1. The Cloud and the Winds of Change
According to DMG Consulting, cloud-based infrastructure is the fastest growing area for the call center industry, predicted to almost double between 2013 and 2015. Change is coming, and the proof is in the numbers. By the end of …
- 2013: 6 out of 10 contact centers had plans for cloud-based deployments.
- 2015: 18% of contact center seats will be delivered by cloud-based infrastructure. (Up from just 2.2% in 2008.)
- 2016: 50% of Global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the cloud.
While cost reduction continues to be a key objective, it is no longer the dominant driver. Contact centers have come to appreciate the wealth of other benefits that cloud-based solutions have to offer, namely:
- Faster deployment
- Flexibility and scalability
- Ease of managing remote agents
Frost and Sullivan had forecasted that by 2014, the majority of contact centers would move to the cloud, however this happened much quicker than expected. The hosted call center is now expected to grow 12.1%.
2. The Value of Metrics
Call center managers can’t effectively manage what they don’t measure: Tracking KPI’s and other metrics in order to improve call center performance continues to be important. Understanding and benchmarking against these metrics is still the best way to maintain high standards of customer service.
As of last year, only 43% of call centers had a high level of understanding of KPIs. In 2014 it’s crucial to not only measure, but also to understand the metrics that matter most, including; First Call Resolution (FCR), Abandonment Rates, Average Handle Time (AHT), Average Speed to Answer (ASA) and Cost-per-Call.
These metrics are also relevant for creating benchmarks across multi-channel environments. For example, the Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) reports that self-service on a company’s website has the best First Call Resolution rate, at 78%, while chat and email produce more dismal results. Call center managers must keep a keen eye on metrics across all mediums, and understand how and why these numbers differ. First-Call Resolution by Channel
Source: The Contact Center Satisfaction Index Mid-Year 2013
3. A Knowledge Base is Crucial to Online Services
Organizations will have better and more effective self-service systems this coming year. In 2013, Zendesk stated that 72% of customers were going online to serve themselves, however only 52% were finding the information they needed. This year, expect companies to adopt best practices in knowledge management so that information is easier to find and utilize for greater service efficiencies.
A properly scripted menu leads customers to the answers they need, provides them with the opportunity to navigate to a live agent, and decreases the overall call volume that reaches the call center. 69% of customers surveyed attributed their good customer service experience to a quick resolution of their problem. Ultimately, faster answers lead to happier customers.
4. Mobility is Climbing to Higher Peaks
Forrester stated that companies would spend about $900 million on mobile processes in 2013 and expects this number to more than triple in 2014. 722 million smartphones were shipped in 2012, bringing the worldwide installed base to the 1 billion mark. In 2014, smartphone shipments are expected to surpass 1 billion for the first time, marking another milestone in the dominance of mobile devices.
The focus is now on customer engagement and user-friendly navigation. Ensuring that the interaction with customers is clear and easy to understand will be crucial in the redesign or creation of your mobile applications. It’s equally important to provide the best customer experience on your mobile app by combining tools that enhance the interaction with customers. Adam Faulkner, a specialist in customer service and contact center systems, says, “2014 will see mobile apps combine with services such as call-back and web chat to make engagement even easier for customers”. Allowing customers to easily connect to a live agent – directly from within your mobile application – lets them avoid having to start the interaction over by calling your contact center, and it improves the overall experience. Mobile Rescue from Fonolo is one product that offers these value-added capabilities.
Source: The Contact Center Satisfaction Index Mid-Year 2013
5. Big Data is Getting Bigger
Today, service leaders have more customer data than ever before. Among other tools, surveys, social media, and speech analytics have aided in the collection of enormous amounts of information, resulting in less clarity in what the data actually says. Increasingly, companies are trying to understand a 360-degree view of the customer by blending together customer feedback data with their existing CRM systems. The key to revealing new insights that would have otherwise been hidden is by truly understanding what you’re looking to achieve first, without being overwhelmed with the analysis.
IDC predicts that the market for Big Data will reach $16.1 billion in 2014, growing 6 times faster than the overall IT market. With that in mind, Data Scientists have become more desirable since it’s the management and use of all this data that will be the key differentiator. Ultimately, businesses need to find more ways to connect the mix of structured and unstructured data, helping them to better address the needs of their customers.