New Realities Drive Contact Center Transformation

dir="ltr">In the past two years, work-from-home programs, the adoption of cloud technologies, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics, the pressures of a slowing global economy, and the tight talent market have forced contact center leaders to rewrite the playbook for effective, efficient customer service, according to a new report from Deloitte Digital. 

"Post-pandemic impacts on technology enablement, talent acquisition and retention, and an enhanced customer experience mean that processes for constant improvement,  scalability, and change management need to be baked into every aspect of contact center operations," said  Timothy. McDougal, managing director of Deloitte Digital, in the report. "Connected customer  experiences across all channels, with the right balance of technology and human solutions will depend on the customers you serve, industry norms, and other considerations.” 

Additionally, the report found that a desire for always-on, instant access, self-service options continue to influence how customers want to engage. And the ever-rising expectation for individualized service experiences impacts customer loyalty. 

Among some of the current trends, the report found the following:

  • Sixty-three percent of contact center leaders are facing staffing shortages, forcing them to be more creative and proactive in finding and hiring agents and to retain those they already have. 
  • Sixty-nine percent still have a work-from-home program in place, with 73 percent expecting to have a work-from-home  program in place within two years.
  • Eighty-six percent expect to raise starting wages in the next two years, which has proven to be successful in filling open positions with remote employees. 
  • Fifty-eight percent are outsourcing at least some portion of their needed agent capacity; that percentage is slated to grow to 64 percent in two years. 
  • Even in the face of economic uncertainty, 50 percent of companies view modernizing infrastructure as a top investment priority, and one-third said deploying agent-enabling technology is a top priority. 
  • In the past two years alone, the number of organizations that have moved analytics, CRM, knowledge management, interaction recording, and workforce management systems to cloud has increased by approximately 50 percent. 
  • Three in four companies will have cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR), interaction recording and CRM systems within two years, and two-thirds will have cloud-based automatic call distribution (ACD). 
  • Two-thirds of companies expect to use an external partner for conversational artificial intelligence and/or CRM management within the next two years. 
  • Seventy-four percent of organizations are currently at some stage of testing or deployment  of customer-facing chatbots. 
  • Voice/text analytics usage has increased from 62 percent in 2020 to 81 percent today. 
  • Channel investment remains a high priority, with 69 percent saying they plan to expand (or keep expanding) their service channels in the coming two years. 
  • Connected, consistent experiences are critical for building trust, according to customers. Only 7 percent of the contact centers that offer multiple service channels can transition customers between channels seamlessly by providing data, history, and context to the next  agent or system. 
  • Nine in 10 leaders will invest in additional self-service capabilities in the next two years, with a goal of driving customers to conversational IVRs, interactive FAQs, virtual agents, and/or chatbots. 

"Customer and talent expectations have shifted greatly thanks to accelerated efforts to modernize contact  center technology and deliver more seamless customer experiences," observed Dounia Senawi, Deloitte Digital's chief commercial officer and a principal at Deloitte Consulting. "By adapting to changing circumstances and embracing new technologies, such as AI automation and self-service options, businesses enable contact centers to deliver exceptional customer experiences and gain a competitive advantage."