Mistrust Is the Silent Contact Center Killer

For companies in high-touch industries, such as financial services, healthcare, hospitality, travel, and retail, the contact center has cemented its position at the epicenter of helping to deliver an improved customer experience (CX). During the past several years, contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) and communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) providers have been influential in elevating the contact center to a profit center, affirming why IT or technology leaders are now the decision makers on contact center vendor selection nearly 60 percent of the time.

For nearly half (46 percent) of CX and IT leaders, CX will be the leading brand differentiator in 2030, eclipsing price, product quality, corporate responsibility, and employee experience (EX). While CCaaS and CPaaS providers are capitalizing on this opportunity, a dynamic set of risks threaten to undermine the full value cloud software can deliver.

At the top of the risk matrix is the erosion of trust in voice calling. The culprit? Robocalls. Americans have been inundated with more than 60 billion unwanted robocalls in the past year, which explains why 68 percent of consumers refuse to answer calls from unknown numbers.

This is problematic for contact centers because voice is still core to the omnichannel CX. If consumers and prospects stop answering the phone or are less willing to engage in calls, companies could struggle to realize the full CCaaS benefits in contact center utilization, agent efficiency, cost optimization, and complaint resolution.

Robocalls not only threaten customer communication and engagement but brand reputation and the bottom line. Bad actors are spoofing legitimate companies to swindle customers out of money and personal information. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost $2.67 billion to imposter scams in 2022, as one in five consumers fell victim.

Companies with contact centers should digitally transform the voice channel to help protect consumers, provide customer-facing transparency, and drive gains in customer conversion rates, brand reputation, and business outcomes, all of which should provide a competitive advantage and complement existing and future CCaaS and CPaaS offerings.

Cloud contact center investments that unlock a superior omnichannel experience can sink if a single core channel is not operating effectively. In the case of the voice channel, the burden is unfairly on consumers, who are trying to determine whether the incoming call is from a legitimate business or a scammer. Consumers are expected to make these decisions on the fly with limited information.

Digital transformation of voice requires more transparency that includes critical call information on an incoming call screen so customers can better discern who is on the line.

Following the rise of spoofed calling, accelerated and complicated by artificial intelligence tools, there are real benefits in providing high-value customer-facing call information and the authentication and validation of that information. Authenticating calls, combined with branded information, helps protect against brand spoofing, ensuring only legitimate calls get through.

Companies and contact center providers/operators can reduce the time spent verifying the legitimacy of their calls to recipients and move toward longer, substantive conversations and better business outcomes. Authentication can positively impact customer call duration, helping to reduce the number of security protocols required once the call has connected. This will result in an optimized call duration, allowing agents to get to the reason for the call quickly. Additionally, customers are likely more trusting of incoming calls and, therefore, more ready to engage with agents.

CCaaS and CPaaS providers increasingly recognize the enduring prioritization of the voice channel within contact centers. And as these companies embrace an omnichannel experience from a digital transformation perspective, modernizing each channel individually and holistically will translate into an improved customer experience.

Jim Tyrrell is vice president of enterprise product management at TNS, with specific responsibility for TNS's Communications Market solutions.