As companies lay out plans to design their new contact centers of the future – often highly reliant on new technologies that may be poorly understood – it’s critical that they take into consideration the fact that the paradigm within the contact center is changing, and changing rapidly.
Customer expectations are higher than ever, more emphasis is put on immediate Web channels such as Web chat, mobile apps are a small but growing channel, and customers expect highly personalized service regardless of which channel they choose.
ICT services and solutions provider Dimension Data (News - Alert) recently released the results of its 2013/2014 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report, which the company says uncovers significant challenges and emerging trends that will affect the contact center of the future. To compete on a customer support basis going forward, companies will require a new caliber of technology and resources to keep clients engaged and employees happy, but they will also need new management skills.
“Contact centers are on an evolutionary path to become highly responsive, cross-channel multimedia hubs,” wrote the report’s authors in a statement. “This transformation is creating increased complexity for contact center agents because they are not always hired or trained to communicate within these new channels. As a result, contact center agent absenteeism is three times higher than contact center management; agent attrition is up an alarming 26 percent over 2012 rates.”
High agent attrition – which means that contact centers are failing to achieve the kind of employee engagement so necessary to providing first-class customer support – costs companies a lot of money directly, but it costs them far more indirectly: without an engaged workforce, contact centers cannot hope to improve customer engagement. And customer engagement is what today’s customers are expecting.
Specifically, the Dimension Data benchmarking report found that:
The critical lesson here is that customers expect a variety of media choices through which to contact a company, and they expect that all these media channels will be so well integrated that regardless of which media they choose, the company will know who they are and be able to anticipate their needs.
Going forward, this will require a careful balance of people, processes and technology built on a greater contact center foundation that understands it goals and is willing to put in place the means to achieve them.