2021 Survey Report: What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now

2021 survey report

2021 has been a challenging year. Across the industry, contact centres are setting up new working models and facing fresh people, process and technology challenges, as well as those stubborn old issues.

But contact centre leaders have been rising to the challenge, making bold moves to improve customer, employee and business results.

Luckily, we’ve been hot on their heels, uncovering new and exciting insights for our comprehensive annual survey.

Aiming to seize a snapshot view of what contact centres are doing right now, this survey highlights how the industry is evolving, year after year.

To do so, we surveyed Call Centre Helper readers throughout July and August 2021, collecting and comparing this year’s results with data from the previous six years.

Also, we’ve introduced new, topical questions. These have enabled us to shed light on emerging trends that are impacting contact centres across the globe.

Run in partnership with Akixi, NICE, Nuance, Odigo, Poly and ProcedureFlow, this survey dedicates chapters to critical contact centre arenas such as customer experience, workforce management (WFM) and future innovations.

With 224 contact centre professionals taking part, we’ve discovered many new insights, which we are delighted to share with you.

Continue reading this article to discover some of the headline findings and the responses to the final question, or have a look at our Contact Centre Research for extracts, insights and more.

Alternatively, you can download the full Call Centre Helper survey report ‘What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now‘ here.

Executive Summary

Effortless Is the Answer

As the saying goes: “The best service is no service.” These wise words are being put into practice across the industry, best highlighted by the continued growth of the customer effort metric.

Just last year, 48.2% of contact centres measured customer effort. This year, that figure grew to 55.7%.

Yet this growing trend goes back further. Five years ago, only 35.8% of contact centres calculated customer effort, highlighting the continued focus on making customer experiences easier.

Self-Service Is Delivering Bang for Bucks

To lower customer effort, contact centres are turning to self-service, and it’s delivering results.

By far the largest percentage of participants (36.2%) pinpointed self-service as the best technology for delivering maximum value for money.

Interestingly, 62.2% of contact centres also view self-service as a critical growth channel for customer experience, while improving self-service was identified as the most valuable use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within contact centres.

Artificial Intelligence Adoption Soars

More than half of contact centres (51.8%) are now implementing AI technologies.

Solutions such as process automation, chatbots and interaction analytics are proving increasingly popular – especially the latter.

In fact, 24.0% of contact centres are now employing interaction analytics technologies. This figure has grown from 9.2% in just five years.

Add to this the statistic that almost two-thirds of our contact centre professionals (66.5%) believe that the solution is “very exciting” and it seems that the trend is set to continue.

Rotational Shifts Face the Exit Door

One longstanding contact centre practice that appears to be on shaky legs is rotational shifts. Little more than a third of contact centres are now using this shift pattern.

Perhaps the budding focus on creating shifts that match lifestyles is at play here, as no one leads a rotational life.

Also, the growth of shift types that are more conducive to a good work–life balance – such as split-shifts, which 19.5% of contact centres now use – could support this theory.

Gamification Falls Out of Favour

In 2016, 50.2% of contact centres played motivation games to increase employee engagement. Now, that percentage has shrunk by more than half to only 23.6%.

Of course, the pandemic may have played a part. Yet the downward trend was already at play, with fewer than a third of contact centres harnessing the power of games in 2019.

Other classic contact centre initiatives that are being pushed to the wayside include social events, spot prizes and sales commissions.

Efficiency, Efficiency and More Efficiency

While initiatives are changing and technologies are evolving, an obsession with efficiency remains a contact centre constant.

According to 22.9% of participants, efficiency is set to be their top priority for 2022. This makes it the most common primary objective amongst all of the contact centres surveyed.

To put this into context, efficiency topped the list ahead of other key priorities, including engagement and culture, omnichannel and coaching.

Lack of Technology Integration

It seems that contact centres aren’t just focusing on simplifying the customer experience but on improving the advisor experience too.

Just last year, 53.0% of contact centres reported that a lack of technology integration was a big barrier to running the “dream” contact centre.

Now, “technology not being joined-up” is only a major issue for 27.3% of contact centres. This signals a significant drop, which may be caused by the industry-wide transition to cloud software.

Download the full Call Centre Helper survey report ‘What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now’ here.

Question 38: If There Was One Thing That You Could Improve in Your Contact Centre, What Would It Be?

From within the feedback of our contact centre professionals, several answers appeared many times. These included responses such as employing new technology, improving communication across the business and building better business cases.

However, there were also many more intriguing replies, which we’ve categorized below.

Better Supporting the Team

  • Bolstering employee health and safety (both psychological and physical)
  • Creating more time for training
  • Developing an empowerment framework
  • Enhancing recognition strategies
  • Establishing an easy-to-use knowledge base
  • Having more meaningful conversations with advisors
  • Improving shift flexibility
  • Increasing salaries
  • Proving more opportunities for growth
  • Redeveloping our incentive programme
  • Re-engaging advisors and improving their skillset

Customer Service Strategy

  • Bolstering advisor quality scores
  • Dealing with new channels
  • Developing a greater customer focus
  • Eradicating avoidable contacts
  • Improving mindsets for customer service delivery
  • Increasing our influence over the wider business
  • Mapping customer journeys
  • Redesigning processes and systems
  • Upskilling advisors

Developing Contact Centre Management

  • Bolstering resource planning
  • Boosting forecast accuracy
  • Bringing in part-time staff from different departments
  • Building better upstream processes to remove contacts
  • Changing the mindset of senior stakeholders
  • Enhancing workflow management
  • Improving speed to competency for advisors
  • Increasing technology integrations
  • Fixing broken processes
  • Improving our IT infrastructure
  • Lowering attrition
  • Refining our recruitment strategy
  • Removing business silos
  • Training the management team

Improving Remote Work

  • Developing a clear communication system
  • Enhancing our hybrid working model
  • Improving staff engagement scores
  • Increasing flexibility for remote advisors
  • Managing shrinkage amongst remote teams

Implementing New Technology

  • Adding callback functionality
  • Automating manual processes
  • Building a live chat functionality
  • Consolidating advisor tools
  • Creating a single view of the customer
  • Developing our reporting suite
  • Employing virtual assistants
  • Enhancing our telephony system
  • Implementing a new cloud-based automatic call distribution system
  • Improving dashboards to improve senior decision-making
  • Investing in real-time speech analytics
  • Installing call and screen recordings
  • Transitioning to cloud-based technology
  • Updating the IVR
  • Utilizing WFM software

Follow this link to view the full Call Centre Helper survey report ‘What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now‘.

Alternatively if you want to view more, have a look at our Contact Centre Research for extracts, insights and more.

This survey was done in partnership with Akixi, NICE, Nuance, Odigo, Poly and ProcedureFlow.

Author: Rachael Trickey

Published On: 17th Jan 2022 - Last modified: 10th Oct 2023
Read more about - Contact Centre Research, , , , , , , ,

Follow Us on LinkedIn

Recommended Articles

2020 autumn survey report
2020 Survey Report: What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now
2015 survey report
White Paper: What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now (2015 Edition)
2017 survey report
White Paper (2017 Edition): What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now
2019 autumn survey report
2019 Survey Report: What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now