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9 Critical Contact Center

Trends for 2018


A white paper that explores important trends in the call center industry for
the coming year.
Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

1. A Focus on Customer Experience Strategies . . . . . . . . . 4

2. Consistency Across Multi-Channel is a Top Challenge . . . . 6

3. FCR is Undeniably the Most Important Metric . . . . . . . . 8

4. Increased Pressure to Showcase Real ROI . . . . . . . . . . 10

5. Making Callers Wait on Hold is NOT Acceptable . . . . . . . 12

6. The End of On-Premise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

7. Phone Calls Are Still Essential to Customer Service . . . . . 16

8. The Importance of Customer Feedback . . . . . . . . . . . 19

9. Chatbots Step Up to the Plate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

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Introduction

T
oday, changes to the contact center are a

response to consumer behaviour, and not

simply the result of business initiatives. In a

climate where technology and customer

preferences change at a breathtaking pace, it can

be overwhelming to consider all the ways that your

contact center needs to evolve.

This coming year, several key trends are poised

to make a significant impact on contact centers

around the globe. Some of these have transitioned

from being “nice-to-haves” to being essential, while

others are brand new and expected to play a

substantial role. Ultimately, every call center needs

to make decisions from the perspective of their

customers.

Here are trends for 2018 that are sure to shake up

the industry.

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 3


1
A Focus on
Customer Experience
Strategies
1. A Focus on Customer Experience Strategies

How would you feel if 45% of your customers

switched to a competitor who charged more for

an equivalent product, simply because of a

better customer experience? It’s a scary

thought, however it’s the reality these days.

According to this Customer Experience

Executive Report, customers place a premium

on great experiences and 63% of them would

pay more for a better experience.

Contact center leaders understand the value

of the customer experience, and in 2017 they

stepped up their game. The Temkin Group’s

2017 Customer Experience study showed a

severe decline in customer experience ratings

from 2015 to 2016, but the number of

companies that scored ‘good’ or ‘excellent’

increased from 18% in 2016 to 38% in 2017 –

the highest rating ever.

Companies have come to realize that the cus-

tomer experience has a direct effect on loyalty

and, accordingly, the trend is expected to

continue in and beyond 2018.

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 5


2
Consistency
Across Multi-Channel
is a Top Challenge
2. Consistency Across Multi-Channel is a Top Challenge

Any discussion about multi-channel successes has to touch upon the importance of

consistency – something that’s all too often neglected.

Let’s get back to basics and define what we mean by “consistent”: The idea is that regardless of

the channel (email, web chat, phone, etc.) the experience – and the information conveyed – is

the same. If you don’t ensure consistency across multiple customer service channels, then the

overall experience will be negative, which potentially negates your investment in

multi-channel.

This is a challenge for companies today and it will only get tougher in 2018. According to the

State of Customer Service, the main objective for customer experience leaders will be to

deliver an ‘effortless’ multi-channel experience.

Which Topics Are Most Important for


Your Customer Service Department in 2017?

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 7


3
FCR is Undeniably the
Most Important Metric
3. FCR is Undeniably the Most Important Metric

First Call Resolution (FCR) is one of the most commonly watched call center metrics.

Customers and businesses both identify FCR as the top priority during interactions. And when

circling back to the issue of consistency across channels, FCR becomes even more critical.

Getting customer interactions right the first time, with accurate information across all medi-

ums, ensures fewer requirements for further engagement. This increases First Contact Resolu-

tion (FCR) rates, freeing up CSRs to handle other requests.

The Customer Experience Executive Report reveals that FCR is a customer’s #1 priority. In

fact, 70% of customers identify First Contact Resolution as the most important factor when

interacting with a brand. Unfortunately, only 10% of organizations believe they are “excellent”

at delivering on this expectation. In 2018, contact centers need to put extra efforts in place to

ensure FCR is being met – regardless of the channel.

Which of the Following Are IMPORTANT


When Receiving Customer Service?

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 9


4
Increased Pressure to
Showcase Real ROI
4. Increased Pressure to Showcase Real ROI

Customer service leaders tend to use a combination of KPIs to track performance, with NPS

(Net Promoter Score) and CSat (Customer Satisfaction) being the most common. While these

metrics are very important, they only indirectly help a company understand how the contact

center contributes to financial success. According to the State of Customer Service, the ability

to calculate the return on investment from customer care is a weak point.

The chart below indicates the inability of companies to measure successful ROI against a

customer service initiative. Only 29% of those surveyed say they could measure the return

“well”. Expect executives to put more pressure on tracking and measuring ROI in 2018.

How Well Can You Measure


the ROI of Your Customer Service Initiative

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 11


5
Making Callers Wait on
Hold is NOT Acceptable
5. Making Callers Wait on Hold is NOT Acceptable

Is your contact center still forcing callers to wait on hold? If so, you’re missing out on a critical

opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and improve brand perception. According to

this Customer Experience Executive Report, “Wait time before reaching a live agent,” is the

most frequent source of customer complaints. Making customers wait on hold not only leaves

them angry, it also encourages them to vent their displeasure publicly.

If your company has long wait times, the simple answer is a call-back solution. Just remember

that it’s important to consider all the pros and cons of the different call-back solutions and to

fully understand the do’s and don’ts.

One best practice concerns the timing of the call-back offer message. According to The US

Contact Center Decision-Makers’ Guide, 46% of respondents offering a call-back did so based

on actual time spent in the queue. Call-backs should essentially be triggered before the point

of abandonment, or in excess of ‘reasonable’ hold time. Once you’ve got that sorted out, make

sure there’s a real return on your investment! Click here to understand the ROI of call-backs.

Typical Queue Time Before a Call-Back is Offered

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 13


6
The End of On-Premise
6. The End of On-Premise

The transition to the cloud has been a particularly difficult road for the call center. There were

some good reasons for this: the lack of sufficient or reliable bandwidth for voice, the real-time

demands of call handling, and the mission-critical nature of many call centers, among others.

However, since these are no longer the barriers they once were, it’s beginning to look like the

on-premise call center is soon to be extinct.

Cloud deployments will continue to grow in number and size throughout the industry in 2018.

According to ContactBabel, the most prevalent reasons for choosing cloud is to improve

operational scalability and reduce capital spending.

Reasons for Choosing Cloud-Based Solutions

Sandra Gustavsen, Industry Analyst for Business Systems LLC,


lists the many advantages:

“There are obvious budgetary advantages to selecting a cloud solution such as


reduced capital expenses, fewer IT personnel and predictable per-user monthly
fees, to name a few. But, there are also strategic advantages in terms of scale,
consistency across a network and the ease of adding future innovations that are
appealing particularly to organizations with multiple, geographically-dispersed
offices.”

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 15


7
Phone Calls Are Still
Essential to
Customer Service
7. Phone Calls Are Still Essential to Customer Service

As a customer, you have more options than “Customers, it turns out, actually prefer live

ever to contact a company. Non-voice voice conversations to other forms of

channels such as email, chat, SMS, and social engagement. 37% would choose phone

media have been steadily growing in conversations with a live agent… [followed

popularity. However, while it’s true that the by] email (18%), in-person (17%) and live chat

channel mix is shifting, it would be wrong to (15%).”

conclude that phone calls are any less


Given the huge popularity of messaging and
essential to customer service. According to
social media, why do people still want to pick
the Customer Experience Executive Report,
up the phone to call a company? The chart
live voice remains the customer’s preferred
below explains.
channel of communication.

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 17


A report from Twillio also shows the popularity of the voice channel, segmented by age group.

The telephone still remains 1 of the top 3 choices.

Channel Choices

Interestingly, 18-24 year olds actually express an increased appreciation for the voice

channel versus the 25-34 year-old group. Call center leaders should take note of this trend,

as it confirms that the channel remains in high demand, despite the many efforts to move

away from it.

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 18


8
The Importance of
Customer Feedback -
to the Customer
8. The Importance of Customer Feedback – to the Customer

Customer feedback can be the most In 2018, you’re more likely to take a different

insightful method of gathering data to make approach to proactively collecting feedback.

decisions for the future. By examining Perhaps, rather than surveying customers,

conversations with your customers, you may you’ll be analyzing recorded conversations,

be able to uncover new ways of improving chat logs, and email trails. Customers

that hadn’t been previously considered. But undoubtedly want to be heard – especially

just how important is customer feedback to since 90% of them share details about their

the customer? According to a recent survey, bad experiences with others, just not in the

only 26% of customers actually care about same ways as before.

the opportunity to offer feedback. While

customers see some value in collecting their

feedback, those factors ultimately take a back

seat to more pressing issues such as fast

service, or first contact resolution.

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 20


9
Chatbots Step Up to
the Plate
9. Chatbots Step Up to the Plate

Ok, let’s face it; the age of bots is now. As With mobile apps struggling for downloads

businesses automate their sales and support and bots being cheaper and quicker to make,

teams, chatbots and other AI implementa- many executives are saying that bots are

tions are becoming increasingly popular. poised to take the lead in popularity. It seems

So, if you’ve been living under a ROCK and that some of the big brands are already

need a refresher, please allow me to explain catching on and, as consumers get familiar

chatbots in layman’s terms. A chatbot is a with communicating this way, they will start

computer program that automates certain to expect it from more companies. In other

tasks by chatting with customers through a words, expect chatbots to play a bigger role

conversational interface, like Facebook. in the future, as organizations figure out the

Chatbots give brands the ability to engage technology and how to make the best use of

with customers on a personal level. It’s it.

actually super cool.

Level of Automation Used in Web Chat, By Contact Center Size

According to ContactBabel, “chatbots currently handle only 2% - 5% of all web chats, although

there is a definite growth in the use of chatbots to handle the introduction and initial

identification of an issue, before handing it onto an agent.”

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 22


Conclusion

Every year, trends come and go. However, one thing is clear in 2018: This is the year of

perfecting processes and technologies that are already hard at work. Whether it’s discovering

them for the first time, or tweaking your existing infrastructure to better accommodate

customer needs, it’s “go time”; there’s just no room for delay when it comes to optimization.

Put these 9 trends on your must-do list to ensure a bright future for your contact center.

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 23


Fonolo: Call-Back Solutions for the Call Center
With Fonolo, your customers will never wait on hold again, regardless of where the
conversation begins – web, mobile or inbound call. Our cloud-based technology easily hooks
into your existing call center infrastructure, with minimal impact to your business processes.

Join Us for a LIVE Demo


Learn how Fonolo can help you lower
abandon rates, reduce costs and improve
the customer experience.

REGISTER NOW!

Mark Edelman, VP of Member Contact, Standford Credit Union

With Fonolo’s call-back solution we saw a reduction in our abandon


rate, an increase in member satisfaction and an upsurge in agent morale!

9 Critical Contact Center Trends for 2018 24