In 2020, Call Centre Helper readers were invited to take part in our industry-wide annual survey that looked into ‘How Contact Centres are Delivering Exceptional Customer Service’.
In partnership with Jabra, NICE and RingCentral, we asked 18 questions of 213 industry professionals in our survey to discover how contact centres are delivering great customer service to the modern customer
This article contains the extracted General Chapter of the survey report.
The data that is included in this report was collected before the COVID-19 crisis took hold in many contact centre operations across Europe and the US
In Your Contact Centre, How Have Contact Volumes Changed In the Last 12 Months?
Contact Centres are Getting Busier
For a long time, many have predicted that the contact centre industry will experience a decline as organizations try to make customer journeys as simple as possible. Well, at the moment, the opposite is happening, contact centres are getting busier.
In fact, over half of the contact centres we surveyed (54.7%) had experienced a rise in contact volumes in the past year, with 17.9% seeing them increase “greatly”.
These results are particularly revealing when we consider that they were collected before the COVID-19 outbreak caused contact volumes to spike in late March and April.
So, why are we seeing such a rise in contact volumes?
The digital revolution is one answer, as contact centres open up new channels, therefore opening themselves up to a new “type” of customer.
Also, the rise of smartphones is giving customers more information than ever and more to question as a result.
In Your Contact Centre, How Have Handling Times Changes In the Last 12 Months on the Voice Channel?
Many Contact Centres are Experiencing Longer Handling Times
A combined 36.2% of contact centres told us that their handling times had increased over the past 12 months, with well over a quarter of those participants stating that they had “increased greatly”.
This 36.2% is considerably bigger than the 25.1% of contact centres that reported their contact volumes to have decreased.
Those that had decreased this metric may have implemented new technologies like knowledge bases or wrap-time automation with the aim of lowering handle times by supporting advisors better.
However, the contact centres that have seen increasing handling times will be feeling the consequences of a wider industry trend of self-service taking the simple contact reasons, leaving advisors to deal with the longer, more complex, calls.
For the Most Part, Handling Times are Staying Relatively Stable
The most popular response to this question was that handling times remained “much the same”.
In addition, few survey respondents confirmed that their contact centre had experienced a big change in handle time either way.
These findings are likely because of the 12-month time period covered by the question. As time goes on and self-service and automation continue to grow, call length is expected to increase across the industry.
What is Your Channel Mix?
The Digital Contact Centre Revolution is Happening (Finally!)
Compared with other contact centre channels, the percentage of contacts that come through the inbound voice channel has declined by 5.3% in the past two years.
This decline has made way for the continued growth of live chat, while social media and email have also seen an increase in usage over the past 24 months.
From the graph above, we can see that the inbound voice channel actually grew in usage from 2014 to 2016, but has been steadily decreasing ever since.
One explanation for this might be that live chat and social media burst onto the scene with a lot of hype at the start of the decade – but didn’t have the expected impact, and people reverted to the phone.
Now, as everyone has become a little more tech savvy, people feel more comfortable in using digital channels, and contact centres have become more proficient at offering great service on them.
Remember, we are all on a digital journey, we’re just at different phases.
There are Other Channels Too
One of the more glaring takeaways from the table above is that channels categorized under the term “other” had grown from 1.3% in 2018 to 3.1% in 2020.
So, what are these channels that have experienced such rapid growth?
The likely answer is messaging apps, with many contact centre technology vendors now pushing out asynchronous messaging capabilities, allowing businesses to communicate with customers via WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat.
On a Scale of One to Five, How Accurate is the Information Within Your Knowledge Base?
Just One Fifth of Contact Centres Have “Very Accurate” Information Within Their Knowledge Base
Only 20.8% of contact centre professionals could confidently state that their knowledge base contained “very accurate” information that would help solve customer queries.
This is a worry, as a knowledge base that isn’t kept up to date can become a source of frustration for advisors, while the wider business will have doubts over using information from within it in order to improve customer experience.
It is, however, good to see that the majority of contact centres are taking steps to keep insights “reasonably accurate” or at least of “average accuracy”.
For those that responded with “inconsistent” or “not at all accurate”, it may be time to either rebuild the knowledge base from scratch or abandon the project altogether. Right now, it could be doing more harm than good.
There’s Good News in the Findings Too!
On a more positive note, just 6.2% of contact centres responded to this question by confirming that they have not yet installed a knowledge base. This means that the overwhelming majority of contact centres now have the technology.
Having this technology offers contact centres the chance to lower training time (and therefore costs!), reduce call escalations and share insights with the wider organization.
Is Your Contact Centre Integrated With Your CRM Platform to Provide Insights on Customer Interactions?
CRM Integrations are at Last Becoming the Norm
64.7% of contact centres have at least some integration between the CRM system and their other technologies, helping to improve the advisor working environment.
In addition, 24.0% of contact centres are planning to add their first CRM integration within the next 12 months, leaving just 11.3% of contact centres with no immediate plans to begin the CRM integration process.
These results highlight major growth within the industry, with even a simple integration between the CRM and agent desktop freeing up advisors from numerous manual tasks.
Full Integration is Still a Far-Away Prospect for Most
Of the 64.7% of contact centres that currently have CRM integration, less than a third have been able to connect the CRM with every applicable contact centre technology.
Yet this is no mean feat, as there are many technologies the CRM can be integrated with to improve customer service, including call routing software, dashboards and many more complex technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI).
Download the full Call Centre Helper survey report ‘Is Your Contact Centre Delivering Exceptional Customer Service?‘ now.
Alternatively if you are interested in a specific chapter read one of these extracts next:
This survey was done in partnership with Jabra, NICE and RingCentral.