Throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic, contact centers gained a lot of attention. Providers that had previously seen modest upticks in usage; had suddenly seen usage figures spike nearly uncontrollably.
Today’s contact center software is sophisticated and doesn’t require much to startup, which is a large part of the appeal of the often cloud-based technology. Though on-premise contact centers are not going away, it became clear from the Pandemic that cloud contact center providers would have no problem convincing companies that continuity via software would be the way to weather the storm.
In a study commissioned by Zogby Analytics, the firm found that 54 percent of contact centers will operate on a hybrid model. And omnichannel support along with artificial intelligence also increased in importance for employees and employers wanting to boost workplace productivity.
Let’s look at other factors impacting the state of the contact center in 2022.
The Rise of the Cloud Contact Center
Outsourcing contact center duties doesn’t seem like the most economical decision. As such, we haven’t seen much of it. In fact, over the past two years – we saw the opposite – remote workers getting hired to perform those very same tasks from the comfort and safety of their homes.
It is cheaper and wiser to invest in an employee who knows the ins and outs of a business: not one who works at various other contact centers, as customer experience (CX) emerged as the real determining factor of success in 2022.
Gone are the days where companies first consider investing in costly hardware, expensive licenses, and management costs. There is also no longer a need for time-consuming provisioning and updates; they get pushed out by providers of contact center technology on a mass scale.
The model is so popular, cost-wise, as cloud contact centers don’t adhere to long-term contracts; but rather bill based on usage. There are a ton of other benefits, which I outline below:
- Almost 64% of leaders see their contact center as a revenue driver- with over three quarters (85%) saying they are optimistic about that figure.
- 72% of leaders say they hired more in 2021.
- They also say – the industry is determined to build resilience by investing in new technologies and workflows that emphasize improving the agent work experiences.
- Contact centers experience 35% less downtime.
- Customers want higher levels of expertise, with 49 percent of respondents to a 2019 Zendesk survey revealing: the most critical element of a good customer experience is interacting with an agent who understands why they’re calling (51%) with the potential to resolve the query swiftly (49%).
Call Center Customer Service (CX)
Companies that can extend exceptional customer experiences during the Coronavirus era are sure to thrive. Customer expectations have risen and continue to do so. Wait times; at one point during the Coronavirus Pandemic, hit record highs. And customers (took a liking) to having multiple options for how they communicated with brands.
WhatsApp, social media, email, and even SMS support rose in popularity, especially when performing simple customer tasks like flight changes, updates to reservations, etc., became more omnipresent. Each of these tasks does not necessarily require human intervention but could very well lead to more satisfied customers if pulled off smoothly.
As contact centers are often the first point of contact for a business, agents must be fully-equipped with all the tools of the trade. This means features like agent assist, IVR, voice biometrics to verify identity, secure payment solutions, and even visibility into customer purchase/call history.
This might require integration to CRM systems, which most contact centers presently offer. Again, some more statistics that showcase just how crucial customer service in a contact center is to business:
- 95.7% of contact center professionals view customer satisfaction as the most critical metric.
- 67% of customers will pay more for a great customer experience.
- 84% of customers prefer they get treated like a customer, not a ‘number’ to reach a quota for the day.
- 70% of customers crave a seamless process when reaching out to a brand on various customer service channels.
- 58% of customers say that customer service affects the brand they choose.
- 86% of customers want to deal with a customer service agent they share (with) an emotional connection.
- $75 billion is lost by businesses annually due to poor customer service.
- 89% of customer service representatives agree that customers are likely to share positive and negative experiences.
- 88% of customer service professionals believe that customers have higher expectations than in the past because they are more informed.
- A mere 12% of customers believe companies put customers first.
Omnichannel Can Increase Efficiency
Contact centers, well – they were once associated with long wait times. Eventually, they gained the ability to call you back or hold your place in line. In more recent years, customers have said “we’d just like more options.”
Accordingly, platforms like WhatsApp, SMS, email, not just voice, emerged as viable customer contact methods. The omnichannel contact center is the (most sizable) enabler of this notion – enabling website-based live chat and video calling. As it is more standard than in the past, rolling out support for omnichannel customer service is a relatively quick process and can happen at the click of a button in most cases.
- 66% of consumers use an average of more than three or more touch-points for contact with their favorite brands.
- 92% of organizations that view customer experience as a differentiator offer multiple contact channels.
- 59% of people prefer brands that respond to customer complaints on social media.
- 54% of customers connected with a business via email.
- Chat agents can handle two or more concurrent sessions concurrently, making them more efficient than voice-only agents.
- The average contact resolved in chat costs 76% more than one solved via voice channels.
- 41% of consumers prefer live chat when contacting customer support.
Contact Center AI Features for Increased Productivity
Retailers have become some of the highest adopters of AI, especially in the contact center. AI-powered chatbots will experience even more growth over the coming years.
The deployment of chatbots does a lot to ease the burden often felt by contact center agents. Most chatbots can get configured to answer related questions and provide quick support. They might also offer up suggestions on how to resolve other queries.
Customers are more likely to engage with AI-powered chatbots, which could spell out increased customer loyalty.
There are also features designed for the contact center – built for the management and making/receiving calls, with efficiency being the primary goal. Auto-dialers, call recording software, monitoring tools, IVRs, and auto attendant phone systems all play a role in crafting curated yet authentic customer experiences, too.
Companies like Zoom and Five9 made it simpler during the Pandemic for agents to obtain only the most accurate information with a feature designed to recommend the best next steps for agents leveraging the might of AI to help customers.
In addition, auto-dialers can enhance the overall output of an outbound contact center by making dialing more productive. Monitoring tools; call recording, auto attendants, and inbound/ outbound IVR systems can also help route the customers to the department that they need to reach and reduce friction associated with
- 42% of survey respondents said they would go elsewhere after a frustrating auto-attendant experience through a contact center.
- Autodialers can extend 200 – 300% more productivity per hour. Compare this to agents dialing by hand, which takes considerably longer.
- 8 out of 10 businesses have implemented AI as a customer service solution on phone calls.
- 25% of customer interactions will integrate chatbots or virtual customer assistants in 2020.
- There is a 61% improvement in customer satisfaction in companies that combine AI with human interaction.
- Contact centers have reported 40% increases in traffic to AI-powered call assistants between February and April 2020.
Contact Centers Slated for Unprecedented Growth
According to IDC, worldwide revenue for the artificial intelligence (AI) market, including software, hardware, and services, could grow at an estimated rate of 15.2% year over year in 2021. That number reached $341.8 billion in 2021 IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Artificial Intelligence Tracker notes. In 2022, it is on track for further acceleration, and IDC notes that it could break the $500 billion mark by 2024.
AI software leads the market at 88% of the overall AI market. When it comes to growth, AI-powered hardware, IDC estimates: could grow the fastest during the next few years.
AI applications represent nearly 50% of revenues and have the strongest, five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at 33.2%. The slowest; AI system infrastructure software, which has a five-year CAGR of 14.4%. It accounts for roughly 35% of all AI software revenue.