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What will be the main focus for Contact Centres in 2019?

When we return to work after the Christmas New Year break, we’re usually all refreshed and ready to tackle the new year with renewed motivation to “make some changes” and improve on last year’s performance.

So what will we improve?

“Performance improvements” is a big topic, and can mean just about anything.

  • It may be personal performance improvements – to meet targets, master new technology, try for a promotion, or work on areas identified in the last staff performance review.
  • It may be business performance improvements – to achieve operational KPIs, increase market share, increase profits, reduce staff turnover etc.

From a contact centre perspective, there are many performance improvement projects to work on to keep up with ongoing changes in customer needs, market conditions and technology.  It can be challenging to determine priorities.

One way to tackle it is to find out what others are doing.

Study reveals the main vision and investment priorities of leading contact centres for 2019

In the second half of 2018, Customer Contact Week (CCW) surveyed customer experience, contact center, marketing, customer care, IT, and operations professionals across a wide range of organisations and published their Market Study entitled THE FUTURE OF THE CONTACT CENTER IN 2019.

When sharing their visions for the future, the over-riding goal among survey respondents was increasing the human touch.

Study author Brian Cantor summarised it like this:

They (Contact Centres)  will leverage new technology to augment—not eliminate—human connections. They will drive agents to become partners rather than providers. They will evaluate customers as multi-faceted, emotion-heavy individuals rather than random buyers.

It’s a comprehensive Study, and we found all the findings insightful and useful.  There’s simply not enough room in one blogpost to outline them all here, so we’ve highlighted four aspects we think need serious consideration by Australian contact centre management teams in 2019.

1. Investment priorities for contact centres

Survey Question:  Which of the following initiatives will be priorities for your contact center/cx team in 2019?

The following graph summarises the top 8 priorities.

Nearly 47% of organisations said they plan to expand their digital capabilities in 2019 and the top investment initiatives are aligned with this vision.

“They want to inject deeper engagement into their digital channels, making them more personal, more conversational, more resolute and, ultimately, more valuable” the report summarised.

Comment:  The most popular initiative – omnichannel support is very important. These days customers choose a variety of contact methods before they pick up the phone, including web chat, email, SMS and social. They want and expect support when they choose, via their favourite medium.  Premier Contact Point enables contact centres to provide integrated omnichannel support, quickly and easily.  An increasingly popular enhancement is extending the solution further with mobility to leverage the unique capabilities of mobile devices.

2. The Agents’ Role

Survey Question: Which issues have the biggest impact on the agent/employee experience?

Increasing the “human touch” of course involves agents. Happy, engaged, productive agents are crucial to delivering deeper connections, and so the “agent experience” becomes increasingly important.

However, there is no one magic bullet for improving the agent experience so that they can make the deeper connections with customers.  It a combination of endeavours—from building a customer-centric culture, to providing intuitive and efficient tools, to improving training, to helping agents grow in their careers, and everything in between.

Comment:  We note that 25% of staff are frustrated with their technology, and this impacts their ability to concentrate on their key purpose – helping customers.  There are no valid reasons these days for agents to still be using out-dated or cumbersome technology. Switching to an easy-to-use and efficient contact centre software solution like Premier Contact Point, and integrating it with your CRM and other important back-end systems, is easy and cost effective.  In addition to the improved productivity, the right contact centre tools greatly impact agent sentiment, job satisfaction and organisational loyalty. It’s a win-win-win.

3. Understanding Customers

Survey Question: Which of the following customer relationship and intelligence categories are urgent investment priorities?

In keeping with the over-arching goal of human connection, comes gaining a deeper understanding of customers as people. Survey respondents plan to leverage satisfaction measurement mechanisms, feedback tools and social media monitoring solutions to understand how customers feel about the service they are experiencing. Interestingly, more contact centres will be using journey mapping to track how customers behave, so that they can make improvements at points where problems occur.

Comment: there are several tools and ways to gain customer feedback and measure customer satisfaction.  See 5 Tips to Designing an Effective Customer Satisfaction Survey for further details on the tools, and how best to use them.

4. Channel Investments

Survey Question: Which of the following contact channel categories are urgent investment priorities?

Interestingly, although survey respondents are committed to improving digital channels, the top investment area for 2019 will be the voice channel. That does not however mean they will operate voice in the same way. Many indicated significant interest in solutions for managing the call queue, which shows a commitment to providing customers with easy access to live agents.

Comment: Rather than diminishing, voice is building in importance, despite the growth of other channels, and will continue to do so, if it’s managed efficiently. With the demise of landlines and switch to mobiles as the main (if not the only) call device used, managing call queues has never been more important, as no-one wants to waste time and battery power waiting in a long queue. The most effective way to manage call queues is to keep customers informed of waiting times, advise of self-service options, and offer a call back service through your voice or visual IVR system, displayed on their smartphone.  See How to Significantly Improve the Mobile Customer Experience for full details.

2019 – The year of building more human connections

What we found heart-warming about the survey results is the commitment to increasing the human connection, rather than reducing it through technology. Contact centre leaders see new technology as a method of augmenting the service provided by their agents, not replacing them.

At Premier Contact Point, we are privileged to have helped many contact centres deliver better customer experiences.  When your teams have the right technology, they can focus 100% on building human connections and being super helpful.  It’s a win-win-win.

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Get in touch to get started.