Contact centers have experienced a wild ride throughout the pandemic – and it looks like it is continuing in a more positive direction. The global contact center industry was valued at approximately $339 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $496 billion by 2027!
Resilience was hailed at the start of the pandemic as a new definition of success, but did that continue over 2021? Our review of the past year showed increased customer expectations, innovation in contact center technology, development of safe work environments, and employee engagements – all good indicators that contact centers are more resilient than before.
But what lies in store for contact centers in 2022? We asked industry leaders and CX experts their thoughts on the past year and their predictions for what contact center professionals can expect this year. You can read the full report here, but here are some quick highlights!
COVID Is No Longer an Excuse for Poor Customer Service
The more technology improves, the shorter our attention spans become, according to a study conducted by Microsoft. Pair that with the pandemic delays and poor customer service, and you have a recipe for impatient customers.
But the truth is, customers were never exactly patient when it came to customer service. That’s why most people don’t like IVR systems, even if they’re advanced. Customers will opt for quick, immediate service with a human almost every time, but having an advanced solution like Visual IVR is still a great way to offer customers flexibility and attention.
The pandemic urged some businesses to focus on profits even at the expense of customer service to stay afloat. While some customers may have excused poor or slow customer service as a result of the pandemic, that excuse is slowly becoming less acceptable for today’s customers.
That’s because a) COVID is so 2020 — customers are ready to move on, and b) businesses are now wrestling in a top-notch competitive landscape that might provide better customer service.
Here’s what Shep Hyken, CSP and CPAE of Shepard Presentations, had to say about call center competition in 2021 going into 2022:
– Shep Hyken, CS & CX Expert
Agent Engagement is Vital to Customer Experience
COVID was hard on call centers and their agents. Not only were agents dealing with the same problems as everyone else — fear of COVID-19 safety, loss of income in the family, illness or death of family members — they also had to empathize with the customers that called the call center.
Not only is this above the average call center agent’s pay scale, it’s also incredibly stressful and accounts for last year’s dramatic increase in agent attrition. Believe us – if your agents are unhappy, your customers will certainly notice and prefer to spend their money elsewhere.
Contact centers must make agent engagement a top priority going into 2022 if they want to keep their talent and produce enhanced customer experiences. Here’s what Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst of COMMfusion, had to say about agent engagement forecasts 2021-2022:
– Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst at COMMfusion
Digital Transformation Will Continue to be Essential in 2022
Contact centers in 2021 had to make significant investments in their technology to monitor IT operations and analytics, (especially with hybrid work models), ensure adequate data backup, keep up with call volumes and customer expectations, and maintain high levels of security. Experts predict that the contact center software market share is expected to reach $75 billion USD by 2026, a value almost triple its 2020 value.
Customers continued to purchase products online, either via online websites or through the phone, and request information from businesses remotely. That trend will likely continue into 2022, necessitating the need for consistent omnichannel support.
Here’s what Nerys Corfield, Director of Injection Consulting, says about contact center technology for 2022:
– Nerys Corfield, Director of Injection Consulting
The reality is that customers are on board with a digital-first approach to the customer experience. While most companies should still have omnichannel support (including traditional phone service), efficient self-service call center solutions are shown to improve customer satisfaction. Businesses should also invest in technology to offer their customers more flexibility, like Fonolo’s Voice Call Backs.