In November and December of last year, DMG Consulting conducted a worldwide survey of enterprise and contact center executives and leaders. We perform this survey annually to identify companies' top servicing goals for the upcoming year. Survey participants were asked to select from a list of servicing initiatives and invited to write in other goals that were not on the list.
Survey participants selected from 33 initiatives and wrote in four additional ones. The top servicing goals for 2017 are grouped into the following eight categories and are prioritized as reflected below:
- Service quality: 26.4 percent
- Productivity/cost reduction: 21.4 percent
- Channel support: 14.4 percent
- Technology: 10.3 percent
- Staff-related: 9.1 percent
- Analytics: 7.2 percent
- Revenue generation: 7.2 percent
- Compliance: 4 percent
Top Five for the Year
The top contact center servicing goal for 2017, selected by 60.9 percent of respondents, is to deliver an outstanding customer experience. This has been the top goal for the past three years, although fewer companies prioritized it for 2017 than in 2016. The challenge is that this goal means different things in different companies and is hard to measure. The slight decrease in the relative importance of this goal is likely due to rising priorities of related goals that help to achieve companies' essential mission of delivering an outstanding customer experience.
The second most important contact center goal for enterprises for 2017 is improving productivity. This goal has held steady in second place for the past three years. This should not be surprising, as companies have a fiduciary responsibility to deliver great service cost-effectively. Many of the best contact center initiatives simultaneously improve the customer experience, reduce operating expenses, and build employee engagement. Examples of initiatives where these are the expected outcomes include workforce management, quality assurance, and speech analytics.
Improving self-service is the third top goal for 2017, but the scope is broader this year than in the past. Companies continue to invest significantly in their websites, which are being enhanced to enable visitors to accomplish as much as possible by themselves. Investments in interactive voice response (IVR) systems do not appear to be major for 2017. However, interest in the new generation of intelligent virtual agents and bot technology is increasing rapidly as companies are trying to figure out the best way to use these solutions to automate routine activities for customers.
Unsurprisingly, reducing the cost of service is goal number four for companies. (This goal came in third place in the two prior years.) Service organizations are people-intensive environments, which are expensive. To keep these costs down, companies are enhancing their self-service capabilities, among other initiatives. Companies plan to invest more in their contact centers in 2017 than they have in the recent past, but they expect to see benefits and payback.
The fifth top goal for 2017 is delivering a personalized customer experience. This is the first time this goal has shown up on the list, and it's very significant that it was ranked in the top five. These investments improve the service experience and help to build customer engagement and retention. Many of the top servicing initiatives for 2017 are highly correlated and contribute to the top goal or company mission of improving the customer experience
2017 is expected to be a better year for customers, as companies are planning to invest more to improve their service experience. Based on the results of DMG's annual survey of contact center servicing goals, companies are committed to making investments to personalize the customer experience. At the same time, they are working to improve their self-service solutions to automate tasks that do not require human assistance.
Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is an expert on contact centers, analytics, and back-office technology. She has 30 years of experience helping organizations build contact centers and back-office operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions. She can be reached at Donna.Fluss@dmgconsult.com.