Seamless, Personalized Service the Focus of Call Centers, Says ISG

Contact center services are evolving rapidly to provide a seamless, personalized customer experience through automation and analytics while transforming the traditional call center into an opportunity center, according to ISG's Provider Lens Contact Center Customer Experience Archetype Report.

The latest in the ISG Provider Lens series, the report highlights how the drive to be more customer-centric is redefining the traditional call center function for many businesses.

"With ever-changing customer expectations and increasing use of technology, especially among tech-savvy millennials, the contact center industry has had to rapidly embrace digital technology and solutions, even before other industries," said Jan Erik Aase, director and principal analyst with ISG Research, and editor of the report, in a statement. "Contact center services have evolved from merely addressing customer queries to providing a seamless customer experience that is highly personalized. Along the way, they are transforming traditional call centers into opportunity centers that are also responsible for brand-building, selling, and marketing."

Aase points out that, in addition to traditional contact center performance metrics, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, reduced average handle time (AHT) and better first-call resolution (FCR), customer service agents today are being measured by the value they create in terms of leads, customer insights, and revenue.

"Digital is no longer a differentiator in customer service, it's an imperative," said Namratha Dharshan, a principal analyst with ISG Research and co-author of the report, in a statement. "Omnichannel solutions and cloud capabilities are now table stakes for contact center services. Among new, cutting-edge approaches, the use of automation technologies like chat bots and intelligent self-service are on the rise, as is the use of advanced analytics to better understand customer needs and make the entire service experience more personalized and pro-active."

According to the 2017 ISG Automation and AI Survey, 82 percent of businesses say that automation and AI are either important or extremely important to improving the customer experience. The same research shows 30 percent of customer queries to contact centers today are resolved through non-voice channels, and that by 2019, 48 percent of businesses are likely to adopt virtual customer service agents.

The ISG Provider Lens Contact Center Customer Experience Archetype Report identifies contact centers by the following four buyer archetypes:

  1. Customer Service Buyer: These buyers typically do not consider contact center operations a core part of their business. They are not innovators but have reasonable call and contact volumes that require a traditional managed services approach.
  2. Peak-Season Buyer: These clients, typically found in retail, insurance, and healthcare, seek flexibility to add or shed agents as demands change. They seek round-the-clock support and flexible pricing and consider a virtual workforce to be important.
  3. Digital Enthusiasts: These clients seek to leverage digital capabilities to serve their customers, many of whom are tech-savvy millennials that expect more personalized services, useful information, and the ability to engage across multiple platforms.
  4. Automation Seekers: These buyers are looking to minimize costs by reducing the number of agents required to handle queries. They want providers able to leverage automation and analytics to deliver customized, personalized and rapid responses to their customers.

Of the 19 providers assessed in the report, none were identified as leaders across all four buyer archetypes. The providers that were named leaders in three of the four categories were Conduent (Customer Service, Digital and Automation buyers) and Sutherland (Peak Seasonal, Digital and Automation buyers).