Call centers are undergoing a period of rapid change, driven by a number of technological and demographic transformations. Millennials, and to some degree Generation X, desire to communicate with organizations electronically driving adoption of new agent channels. Businesses, still wary of the recent recession, are looking to reduce costs and improve scalability and flexibility. Meanwhile, new technologies and software are allowing call center leaders to turn massive amounts of data into actionable intelligence.
These are but a few of the many insightful findings from the annual 2016 North American Call Center Survey conducted annually by Evolve IP. According to the survey, the biggest call center concern is insufficient reporting and analytics with just over 6 in 10 rating it from “challenging” to “extremely challenging”. The second biggest struggle is improving agent productivity; over half rated it from “challenging” to “extremely challenging”. Cost reduction ran close behind, with 16.5 percent noting that finding ways to reduce costs was “very to extremely challenging” and with three in 10 noting it as “challenging.”
Results demonstrate the industry’s desire for meaningful analytics and for deeper integration between solutions. The overwhelming majority of respondents are eyeing investments in cloud technologies to increase business intelligence (BI), improve productivity, enable scalability, reduce costs and deliver customer insight.
Cloud-based solutions hold the ability to resolve many of the top challenges, and nearly eight out of 10 organizations plan to evaluate moving to a new cloud-based call center from a legacy on-premises system. 28 percent of respondents are evaluating a move in the next year and an additional 50.5 percent will do so after 12 months. Among the many reasons to upgrade to the cloud, the list was topped with improved business continuity/disaster recovery (60 percent), lower TCO (49.5 percent), scalability (43 percent), automatic new feature upgrades (37.5 percent) and integration capabilities (35.5 percent).
When asked to rate actual use-case challenges. Cloud call centers outperformed in nearly all categories. In fact 65.5 percent of cloud call center respondents cited no concerns with their solution, versus just 46 percent of on-premises users. Among the top issues that were reported:
• A lack of integration capabilities was cited as a challenge by 31 percent of on-premises users compared to just 8.5 percent of cloud call centers.
• Uptime concerns were double for on-premises systems at 15 percent compared to 7.5 percent of cloud call centers.
• Security issues were similarly cited with 15 percent of on-premises users noting the issue versus just 8.5% of cloud respondents.
Contact centers are rich with data, yet it’s often where many stop adding business value. The survey shows a strong desire for contact center leaders to integrate with other systems and to start delivering meaningful business insights. With strong momentum toward deploying cloud-based communications, where analytics and business intelligence are easier to implement, contact center leaders will have great opportunities to not only advance their practices, but also directly influence the long-term strategic success of their businesses.
Additional Survey Highlights
• Business Intelligence Investments: The top two investment priorities are Customer Relationship Management solutions and Customer Satisfaction Surveys – both tools that can deliver meaningful business intelligence when integrated with other systems. Paradoxically, just 13.5 percent of respondents noted the actual investment in BI reporting and integration tools as a priority.
• Multi-channel: Solutions that handle chat, email, fax and social media have gained traction, as 59 percent now have a solution in place. Of those not meeting the growing customer demand for multichannel support, 32 percent cited inadequate technology.
• Downtime often results in lost revenue and brand loyalty erosion. However, the survey found that failures are frequent, with 6 in 10 centers experiencing downtime in the past year.
• What’s hot: At-home agents remain one of the top initiatives in call centers. However, respondents are concerned about agent functionality from home. Main points of contention are: ability to monitor agent activity (40 percent), agent morale (40 percent), and having the right technology (32 percent).
• What’s not: Noticeable numbers of respondents panned video as an interaction channel, SMS / Text and speech and text analytics as “pure hype,” with little potential business value.