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Contact centres warned to prepare for huge spike in digital traffic

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27th Feb 2015
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87% of contact centres expect to see a sharp rise in digital interactions in the coming two years, according to Dimension Data’s 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report.

The report, leaning on interviews with contact centre professionals from over 900 organisations (including 174 in the UK) found that respondents were already receiving 35% of customer interactions via ‘non-voice’ channels – i.e. channels other than phone.   

And the research adds that by the end of 2016, customers will commonly be using up to seven different digital channels including social media, live chat, SMS and video, with the combined channel interaction numbers expected to comfortably overtake telephone use.

The stats mirror further research from Business Systems that found that social media enquiries were set to account for up to 11.5% of interactions in contact centres this year.

Despite this, many contact centres are seemingly underprepared for the shift; 57% of respondents stated their contact centre still only used the phone as its sole channel of interaction, while 4 in 10 admitted they were unqualified to handle social media interactions, despite the impending sharp increase in usage figures.

With the rise in digital channel reliance among consumers, many leading experts believe there will be a self-service revolution as a result, with contact centres turning more and more to technologies that can resolve customer enquiries without human interaction.

In 2011, Gartner made the prediction that 85% of customer relationships would be managed without human intervention.

However, this forecast was recently downplayed by conflicting research from ThinkJar’s Esteban Kolsky, who stated that the vast majority of businesses have yet to accomplish what they set out to do with digital self-service investment, and Adam Foster, Dimension Data’s group executive for communications believes contact centres still need to empower their staff to make full use of the array of digital communications channels:

“This represents the biggest change in the contact centre business in 30 years, and has profound implications for the way organisations deploy technology to deliver and manage customer service.

“That’s not to say that contact centres are dead, and customer service agents will become redundant. That’s definitely not the case. The reality is that their scope has been broadened, and the types of interactions that are happening via the telephone where an agent is required, are becoming more complex and more critical.

“Organisations will need to focus on getting their staff highly skilled and putting systems in place to enable them to answer customer enquiries immediately.  Because voice is often the channel of last resort, this is where the moment of truth really happens. If agents can’t resolve the customer’s call, it will reflect badly on the organisation, and could lead to the search for an alternative supplier.”

Foster’s comments echo those of industry though-leader, Nicola Millard was has long said that rising customer expectations should force contact centres into rethinking their strategy towards agent training, with the concept of ‘superagents’ centred around a need for all agents to be more skilled in understand the products and business they worked for.

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