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Customer Service and Contact Centres – A Year in Review


In the beginning of this year, the Dimension Data’s 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report revealed four trends that would shape the contact centre industry for the next five years, namely:

  1. Customer analytics
  2. Integrated customer journeys
  3. Digital capabilities
  4. Personalised service offerings

I thought it would be useful to review these trends based on our experience with our clients in the past year and reflect on whether we can see these trends manifesting in our own contact centres.

Customer analytics

This report indicated that contact centres are adopting personalisation techniques based on analytics. This finding forms part of an imminent service revolution that will transform customer experience (CX) and service delivery. We have certainly seen an increase in the use of intelligent analytics across accounts in the past year. Clients are also relying more on their outsourcing partner to assist with this function and provide recommendations on personalisation techniques.

Integrated customer journeys

One of the predominant themes in this year’s report is CX. The report contained some compelling statistics pertaining to CX. I have included a few of my favourites below:

  • CX is a stated differentiator for 82.5% of businesses (A rise of 30.3% since 2012)
  • 77.5% of boardrooms recognise CX as their most important strategic performance measure (Focus on costs drops to the sixth position as organisations buy-in to the benefits of CX)
  • 77.0% of businesses can evidence cost saving benefits via improved CX
  • 74.1% of businesses say it increases company profits/revenues
  • 75.6% of businesses say it promotes employee engagement

Streamlining and integrating the user experience via connected omnichannel strategies is paramount in managing and improving CX. We need to be able to provide the consumer with a choice of channels to use in any sequence they desire to complete their service needs, with seamless integration between channels, 24/7 access and better turnaround times. Analytics is helping organisations understand the customer journey better, but we believe the contact centre industry has a long way to go in terms of integration. The good news is more organisations are starting to prioritise this as a CX strategy.

Digital capabilities

The report indicated that digital volumes handled by contact centres remain on track to exceed phone contacts by the end of 2016. We can certainly confirm that we have seen a significant increase in digital volumes this year; however, at this stage, it has not exceeded phone contacts within our organisation. Nevertheless, there is no disputing the fact that digital technology is transforming the contact centre industry.

What we found interesting is that this year the report highlighted that digital channels could be more powerful if shown more of a ‘human touch’, better design and closer management. This has definitely been true in our experience. We had far better results with clients that implemented digital channels with dedicated specialist teams, opposed to integrating digital channels into the general agent’s function.

With CX dominating the service industry, we believe more organisations will mature their approach towards how they implement and manage digital channels and see the value in dedicated digital teams. We also believe the ‘human touch’ is an important consideration when it comes to digital capabilities and it starts with hiring the correct agent profile with a specific skill set for one. I could go on and on about this subject, but this will need to wait for a future article dedicated to this subject.

Personalised service offerings

The report indicated that personalised service offerings are rising fast. The two most common being channel paths offered and menu option selections – for example, interactive voice response (IVR) – has risen by 47.5%. We can definitely agree with this assessment. In the last year, we have seen personalised service offering rise across all channels. These include prioritising specific service channels, prioritising specific events and prioritising high-value customer groups. We predict this trend will amplify in the year to come, as more businesses seek tangible results from their CX strategies.

The beginning of a service revolution

We can safely conclude based on our experience that customer analytics, integrated customer journeys, digital capabilities and personalised service offerings have had an impact on this year in review.

Although we have seen huge inroads in the adoption and use of customer analytics, integration has a way to go.

Digital capabilities have increased in volume, but at this stage, it has not exceeded phone contacts within our organisation.

‘Human touch’, better design and closer management have definitely improved our results with digital channels. This indicates that the report was correct in stating that these factors can make digital channels more powerful.

Lastly, we have definitely seen a rise in personalised service offerings and we believe this will only increase.

With CX becoming the top goal for organisations strategically, the report predicts the beginning of a service revolution in the contact centre industry. We agree with this assessment. We also predict that more businesses will turn to their outsourcing partner for support and direction in these changing times.

2016 has certainly been an interesting year for the contact centre industry.

I believe there is one question we should all be asking ourselves as we plan for the new year: ‘What are you doing in 2017 to get out in front of these trends and address them head on?’

Author: Mark Mahoney | 28 November 2016
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