7 Trends Driving the Contact Centre

Enhance your customer`s experience and raise their satisfaction by putting yourself at the heart of the interaction in your Contact Centre.

Contact Centre - 7 Key Trends Driving the Contact Centre

I recently bought my brother a present. Nothing special, just a little gift off the internet, but it was damaged when it got to me. Maybe the delivery driver took a corner a little too sharply and the box fell over.

I am a pretty reasonable man (I like to believe) and so I got in touch with the company through email and made a comment on social media.

The response I received was great and I was thoroughly impressed with the way they handled my complaint across multiple channels. It was a real testament to the way businesses are evolving to handle an ever evolving customer interaction and it got me thinking about the challenges businesses are facing through the Contact Centre today.

I also noticed a company is hosting a reverse logistics conference – a whole event dealing with customer returns. Keeping the customer happy is clearly big business these days.


Trend 1: Quality of Interaction

Many still rely on traditional metrics – call durations, talk time, wrap-up and calls per hour – to measure the performance of agents. The truth is though that many of these metrics don’t really tell you the whole story.

Contact Centre Managers are rapidly becoming more focused on customer satisfaction ratings and first call resolution. When an agent has been trained to help customers fill out complicated forms or applications, does it really matter how quickly it gets done?

I hear you, I hear you, of course it does. You don’t want a huge queue of people waiting to speak to an agent, but you do want them to have a good experience when they get through, don’t you?

It is now more important than ever to consider what is important to you and your customers and put in place the reporting to measure it. For example customer surveys might be the best way for you to understand your agent’s performance rather than just number of calls per hour!


Trend 2: Engage Customers on their Terms

Attracting and retaining customers in today’s world is all about providing choice, whether it be through flexible hours or integrating multimedia into the Contact Centre. Today’s younger buyers are used to immediacy.

The use of social media and mobile apps is growing exponentially and shows no signs of slowing down. In a Frost and Sullivan survey, 75% of respondents cited “better customer service” as the top benefit of Social Media customer interactions, while 58% said they “drive more sales”.

This trend of preferring new interaction channels over voice suggests that business could get left behind if they fail to react. The great thing about this though is that it opens up some real opportunities to drive cost savings and agent efficiency. For example, the costs involved with web chat, email or social media are relatively cheaper than communications over the phone as people can handle multiple queries at the same time.

In any case, customers still prefer to pick up the phone to resolve highly sensitive personal issues, complex queries or just for reassurance.


Trend 3: Knowledge-Centred Service (KCS)

In traditional high-volume transaction oriented contact centres, emphasis is placed on how quickly the phone is answered and the average handling time to complete those transactions.

What we are seeing now, however, is movement towards a concept called Knowledge-Centred-Support (KCS) which is taking knowledge generated from each transaction and turning it into useful data. Your agents are no longer just customer support, but help you create actionable insights into the contact centre.

Pioneered in the 1990s it has seen some interesting breakthroughs. For instance it was widely considered that the most important assets for support were the website and the knowledge base, and companies would refer customers to these to answer questions (think FAQs) to direct calls away from the Contact Centre. This, however, didn’t solve all queries and left an awkward transition from a phone-centric to self-service environment.

Now though, with things such as Web Chat and the ability to deliver clever automated services the Knowledge Base is only the starting point for many customer interactions.


Trend 4: AnalyticsContact Centre Analytics

According to a recent survey by Dimension Data, 66% of Contact Centre executives feel that improved Analytics is a top innovation area that will really benefit their contact centre.

It is clear that organisations are seeking more actionable insights and information from the data that the Contact Centre is generating. In the past businesses were approaching data from their contact centre, CRM and other databases in complete isolation and it wasn’t revealing anything too meaningful.

But with the customer experience becoming crucial in today’s business environment there is a key drive to take a much more holistic approach and include business intelligence to leverage the analytics available.

It is becoming more and more important that you know your customers because they know all about you, and your competitors. They know their options and choices. Who they choose to do business with is becoming ever more dependent on great customer service.

The transition from a good contact centre, to a great one, relies heavily on the use of analytics to drive those developments in the right areas for your customers.

The use of analytics will help you understand and align what your customers say versus the actual experience they have, determine how that aligns your own statistics and benchmarks for what your company defines as a “great call experience”.


Trend 5: Development of the Agent

Customer satisfaction is inextricably linked to the effectiveness of a contact centre. In fact the two most important factors that influence upon the effectiveness are agent ability to resolve the call at first contact and the quality of the agent’s communication and service skills.

So, having highly skilled agents can drive immediate benefits to your bottom line. Conversely, poor agents can erode the bottom line.

Your customers are more tech-savvy than ever. Most are more than capable of using the internet proficiently or using an IVR system to get what they need without ever needing to speak to you. This will inevitably result in fewer calls reaching you, but it means the ones that do are more complex issues, and as such you need highly skilled agents to tackle them.

Typically agents are trained for a few weeks and then placed on the phone, but increasingly this is becoming inefficient in tackling the challenges that confront them on the phone. Combine this with an elevated need to cross-sell and up-sell on the phone and you are needing staff to be experts on your products and deliver perfect service.

Tall order after a few weeks training don’t you think? This issue can be compounded by high staff turnover rates.

The truth is it isn’t just the agent that needs attention.

Supervisors need to be educated too. They are often on the front lines and we are seeing organisations give them ever increasing responsibilities and management tools to help assess performance and identify gaps for further training.

To get the most out of these tools there needs to be investment in education and training.

Here are some further statistics from the survey by Dimension Data that highlight what I am talking about:

  • Nearly 25% of Contact Centres are planning to implement of develop advanced knowledge management and employee development tools.
  • 18% of organisations are looking to implement tools to enable celebration of best practice.
  • Almost 26% of organisations want to use customer feedback more effectively to promote best practice.


Trend 6: Embracing Customer and Employee Mobility

Recent changes in the law have meant that employees have the power to request flexible working from their employers. We put together a guide for employers to help with this, but it is indicative of the changing world of work.

By embracing these changes though there are some real benefits to be realised.

Mobile devices and applications are changing the way customers interact. Their behaviours are driving the channel of choice for contact centres, and you risk losing customers by sticking to traditional channels.

According to recent study by TIME, in conjunction with Qualcomm:

  • 1 in 4 check their mobile device every 30 minutes
  • 1/3rd of respondents admitted being without their mobile device makes them anxious
  • 75% of 25-29 year olds sleep with their phones

Smart devices have given rise to a belief in their owners that people should be contactable from anywhere, including businesses, on any channel. Some businesses have created apps to accommodate this and are seeing some great success.

It has benefits internally too, allowing for access from anywhere to systems and giving your management team great flexibility.

To embrace mobility you have to be in a position to handle an increase in communications and have the technology in place to accommodate multi-channel management and align resources correctly.


Trend 7: The Cloud

Cloud computing is not a new breakthrough. However, the levels of service available now for business are groundbreaking due to the sheer flexibility in how you can deploy technology.

Organisations can now easily trust that their cloud-based customer contact centre and services are always available – anytime and anywhere.

The Cloud allows for pay-per-month licensing, delivering a contact centre as a service for small businesses, and what we are seeing is that customers of all sizes are able to achieve far more for less. It is an exciting time technology wise.

Other benefits of the Cloud, such as integration capabilities between systems, means that business processes can also be improved. This means that your customers’ issues can be handled more effectively and resolved quicker.


What are the main challenges and drivers behind your contact centre? What do you see as the next big challenge facing you and your business?

To discuss your contact centre and find out more about how these trends can be capitalised on, contact us today, or head to our Contact Centre Services page on our website now.

Jonathan Sharp

Jonathan Sharp is a communications visionary and established technology business leader with 20 years’ proven excellence in driving business innovation and transformation. Sales & Marketing Director at Britannic Technologies, he puts enthusiasm into technology adoption, helping businesses to connect with their customers and staff in the most efficient and intuitive ways.

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