Validating Contact Center Trends for 2017 and Beyond
Nov 04, 2016
Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Neha Mirchandani, who leads global communications at 8x8, to talk about trends in the industry. 8x8 just completed a survey in conjunction with the Contact Center Network Group (CCNG), on just that topic. So we compared our views on how trends are tracking with the results of the survey, 8x8’s observations, and what we are seeing at Frost & Sullivan. You can see the results of their survey and hear the podcast we did at the end of our discussion here.
I thought I would also add some further thoughts on the topic.
As Neha explained in the blog she posted, the survey suggests three-quarters of companies have recognized the value of the cloud, with 25 percent of contact centers having fully deployed cloud today and another 28 percent partially transitioned. In addition, 21 percent have plans to migrate within the next year. I would certainly say that there is no doubt that cloud is no longer something that contact centers need to be educated on. Customers are asking solution providers about cloud, rather than the reverse. It’s not if, but when, and that is the key. Every business is at different stages in their movement from call center, to multichannel contact center, to omnichannel excellence. But that is the beauty of the cloud. You can do a piece or all of it as your needs and finances permit.
We have certainly seen lots of movement to the cloud in the past few years. In fact, other key technology trends are providing significant drivers to cloud adoption, particularly in the realm of customer analytics. Capabilities such as customer journey mapping, customer interaction analytics, and advanced WFO capabilities are fueling this change. Most important is that the cloud helps better facilitate company’s movement to omnichannel customer care.
To cite another survey, Dimension Data reports even more dramatic results in their 18th annual customer contact benchmarking report. In the report it said, “60.5% plan to locate technology in the cloud, only 7.6% of which is public cloud. Existing cloud users offer compelling case study evidence: 88.8% say it enables access to new functionality, 83.8% say it reduces cost; over two-thirds (67.1%) say it provides better security”.
This last point is one that harkens back to what I said earlier about cloud is something we no longer have to spend a lot of time educating customers about. The restraints which years ago held cloud adoption back – namely security, reliability, etc. have largely been addressed by vendors. So what we see happening is customers are educated as to the benefits, so conversations are shifting to how individual vendors have addressed these early concerns.
Another key result in the report was that of how companies are managing their workforce. I wasn’t surprised to see that 58.4% still say they use spreadsheets and notes. It hurt to see that, but I wasn’t surprised. But now we have an answer. We have good, feature-rich and affordable solutions if we can just educate customers as to the power behind them, and pry their fingers away from Excel. So in that conversation about the cloud, analytics tools should be front and center as to the reason to move.
It was nice to see the high percentage of businesses that claim to have work-at-home (WAHA) workers (59%). The ability for contact centers to support remote workers has been around for a long time, but now we have better technology to support them. What we are seeing at Frost is slow and steady growth. And whereas we have seen completely remote contact centers in the past, we don’t see that as much as select groups of agents deployed as part of a brick and mortar center, for myriad reasons. The four main reasons are the ability to:
- quickly scale (hmmm – isn’t it Open Enrollment season right now?)
- reward select employees for performance using WAHA as a benefit
- cater to the newer workforce that prizes work/life balance
- hire from a broader and more specialized pool of agents that might not be geographically located with the contact center, who are homebound, only want part time, or have specialized skills.
As more companies migrate to the cloud, and cater to a younger workforce, I would expect that the percentage of agents deployed as WAHA, as part of a larger center to increase.
Nancy Jamison is a Principal Analyst within Customer Contact within the Digital Transformation group at Frost & Sullivan. She covers all aspects of customer contact including cloud and premise-based systems and applications in the core areas of inbound/outbound routing, IVR, Workforce Optimization, and recording and analytics, with a particular focus on peripheral and emerging areas that impact the Customer Experience. These include speech technologies, omni-channel customer care, Big Data, digital marketing, Back Office Workforce Optimization, and Support Interaction Optimization.