9 New Findings from the 2021 State of the Contact Center Report

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Contact center transformation is well underway but challenges with communication and collaboration silos still linger, according to a new survey of 400 US and UK contact center and customer experience leaders commissioned by 8×8. Here are nine new findings from the 2021 State of the Contact Center Report:

1. Cloud-based contact centers have become the majority, with 75% of contact centers now operating in the cloud (44% fully, 31% hybrid).

2. In 2020, respondents reported that 69% of agents worked in a physical office. In 2021, that number was flipped on its head, with 64% of agents working remotely.

3. Long term, contact center leaders anticipate a hybrid work environment with 53% of agents working in office and 47% working remote.

4. Employee satisfaction has become a top contact center KPI as the lines between employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) continue to blur. Almost half (49%) of contact centers consider this KPI among the top five most-used measurements after customer satisfaction, response time and quality assurance.

5. Internal communication silos continue to be a top challenge for contact centers and their agents. Sixty-four percent (64%) of contact center leaders consider this a significant or moderate challenge.

6. The top three reasons agent productivity challenges due to communication silos are multiple system logins/credentials (54%); challenges with accessing contact center subject matter experts (SMEs) in a timely manner (51%), and the inability to access SMEs across the organization in a timely manner (50%).

7. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of contact center leaders say communication silos and system complexity are having a negative impact on customer satisfaction, and 55% of this segment say the negative impact on CSAT is moderate to extreme.

8. More than half of contact centers are now using 6 or more customer communication channels (email, chat, inbound voice, outbound voice, plus relatively new channels such as SMS and video).

9. Across the board, more than 50% of all organizations are not yet meeting key KPIs when it comes to video use for customer support and engagement.

As if contact center agents didn’t have enough customer communication channels to worry about, they’re also using more channels than ever to communicate within their own organization. The 2021 survey of more than 400 contact center and customer experience leaders shows that most agents are now using at least five different channels, usually across several tools, to communicate between themselves, their managers, and other employees. These channels include email, phone, chat, video and messaging, with email being the most-used method in 2021 (86%). The high use of email can be attributed to the need over the past year for agents to move from on-site phone systems and premises-based contact center solutions, with email serving as a stopgap solution while agents made the move to cloud-based or partially cloud-based systems.

Just as with customer communication channels, new internal communication channel use (video and SMS) is on the rise, especially as remote work continues to reign in the near term, and a hybrid workforce is expected in the long term. More than 80% of contact centers have now deployed team messaging and video solutions for agents to communicate internally. The entire 2021 State of the Contact Center Report with related survey results can be viewed here.

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