A large-scale survey of more than 200 UK contact centre operations shows that the pressures faced by the industry during the pandemic have not receded, and in fact may well be getting worse.
“The 2024 UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide”, written by the contact centre analysts ContactBabel, finds:
- The average cost of an inbound call is £5.58 – 57% more than email and 83% more than a webchat
- Call abandonment rate is 90% higher than 10 years ago
- The average speed to answer is at its second-highest recorded level in the past 20 years, at 116 seconds.
Furthermore, agent salaries have risen by an average of 15% in the past two years, and the upcoming rise in National Minimum Wage will affect 70% of the operations studied. Despite this rise in salary, agent attrition rates remain higher than the historical norm of 20%.
The report’s author, Steve Morrell, comments:
“The pandemic caused a major increase in key performance metrics that affect CX, such as queue times and call abandonment. However, there is still no real sign of a return to normality, and with call lengths and salaries also increasing, this is placing a real strain on many UK contact centres.
“Despite this, customers maintain their enthusiasm for using the phone channel, seeing it as the gold standard of customer service as it provides reassurance and is usually the best channel for handling the increase in complex enquiries that we are seeing.”
Perhaps as a result of these pressures, AI is reported to be the no.1 technology investment priority for contact centres over the next two years.
53% of webchats are now handled wholly or partially by chatbots – which have significantly decreased the cost of handling a webchat – and AI-enabled agent assistance is also firmly in the sights of many contact centres.