AI, data, digital… Nowadays, there is so much contact center leaders must strategize over.
A tricky task, and one made even more daunting by time limitations, as managers combat those pesky day-to-day issues that refuse to lay low.
Thankfully, leaders are rising to the test, evolving their people, process, and technology practices to improve customer, agent, and business results.
The research – which will be released as a series of reports throughout 2024 – captures a snapshot of the status quo inside contact center operations.
Also, it highlights how these operations are evolving – surfacing many eye-catching insights.
To compile the report, the European CCaaS stalwart surveyed 750 contact center decision makers, unmasking the following five trends – alongside many others.
1. Contact Center Demand Climbs Higher, with Voice & Email Still Ruling the Roost
76 percent of contact centers have experienced higher contact volumes over the past year.
With an explosion of new channels – such as RCS, Google Business Messaging, and even TikTok – that is understandable.
After all, businesses increase the scope of customer engagement by expanding their channel presence.
Yet, more surprisingly, 73 and 69 percent of contact centers – respectively – reported a rise in voice and email traffic flooding into the contact center.
These statistics underscore the ever-present importance of assisted channels and indicate that customers still greatly value human, personalized interactions.
After making this point during his presentation at the recent Elevate ’23 event, Frederic Laziou, CEO of Puzzel, stated:
“Our survey also highlights the need to orchestrate automated and human-led channels to deliver seamless customer experiences.”
So, expect a heightened focus on journey orchestration in 2024, with more businesses implementing conversational AI use cases – such as gathering customer info as they wait in the call queue – to better balance human and virtual experiences.
2. Contact Center Budgets Remain Steadfast, Despite a Tricky Macro-Environment
While 2023 proved a challenging year for Bitcoin enthusiasts, Twitter, and Disney’s creativity, contact center budgets have stayed strong.
Expect that trend to continue in 2024, with 55 percent of contact centers reporting an increase in their software budget.
Moreover, a staggering 18 percent of respondents note that their budgets have surged by 21-40 percent – as evident below.
Puzzel highlights several possible objectives for businesses injecting these funds into their contact centers, with pulling together fragmented agent systems together a prominent example.
Yet, also fascinating is the surge in training and development budgets, which perhaps underlines the increased complexity of contact center conversations.
Such complexity is likely the result the uptick in self-service deployments in CX.
3. Chatbot Troubles Continue with Deflection Disasters to Blame
85 and 86 percent of contact centers – respectively – express their contentment with their voice and email channels. Yet, automated channels fared far worse.
Indeed, only 26 percent of contact centers deemed their chatbot service “above average”.
Below-par technology is a factor here, with many organizations utilizing first-generation, script-based solutions, with only a little, basic natural language understanding (NLU) for AI.
However, most bot projects still stutter in their purpose, as virtual agents deflect calls to digital channels with little regard to the customer’s intent.
As this trend creeps into 2024, the report again underlines the need for journey orchestration – alongside better use of intent, preference, and sentiment data – to configure smarter experiences.
For those getting started on such a journey, Puzzel warns against boiling the ocean. Instead, it recommends focusing on the quick wins that build organizational belief in conversational AI.
These quick wins involve automating the simple, transactional queries that take up the precious time of human agents. Here are some classic cross-sector examples:
- Healthcare: Appointment scheduling.
- Insurance: Policy changes.
- IT: Software installation and updates.
- Retail: Returns and exchanges.
- Travel & Hospitality: Visa and passport requirements.
While such use cases will almost inevitably cut costs and enhance customer experiences, it’s critical to recognize their impact on agent experiences.
Thankfully, many service teams have recognized this need, as heightened training and development budgets suggest.
4. AI Not Only Assists Agents But Trains Them Too
With the advent of generative AI (GenAI), many more agent-assist use cases have hit the contact center market – taking away many manual tasks and drudgery from the desks of thankful agents.
Auto-generated customer replies, auto-summarizations, and auto-detecting automation opportunities are just three of the many examples.
Yet, as Laziou suggests, the increased proliferation of these and other AI-driven agent-assist use cases will fundamentally change the agent role. The CEO stated:
“The role of the agent is evolving. It’s not just more complex; it’s more visible, critical, and strategic than ever. You have more responsibility to create and carry out an effective CX Vision to ensure they have the maximum impact on business outcomes.”
However, AI isn’t only the cause of this trend; it’s the cushion that softens the impact of increased complexity in the agent role while supporting service teams in delivering enhanced experiences.
Take the AI-powered quality assurance tools available within the Puzzel CCaaS platform. Already, these automate contact scoring and isolate areas for improvement and praise – allowing contact centers to tailor personalized coaching programs and level up their performance.
Real-time feedback, AI-augmented knowledge bases, virtual coaching, and predictive analytics may also aid training and development programs.
Lastly, the Puzzel Academy is there to help busy managers, with carefully designed courses to ensure they understand how to drive full value from these AI-powered training tools.
5. CCaaS Growth Slogs Onwards, as Hybrid Environments Rise to the Fore
Only 11 percent of businesses have fully embraced CCaaS, with 46 percent still on-premise.
The remaining 43 percent of businesses have their hands in both cookie jars, slowly migrating elements of their operations to the cloud.
As these continue on their journey and leverage more cloud-hosted AI solutions – including bots, automation, and AI-summarizations – expect that 11 percent will rise throughout 2024.
Yet, it won’t come much quicker than at a snail’s pace – as recent Gartner research suggests, noting a slowdown in CCaaS growth.
These results highlight the cautions enterprises still have with CCaaS, despite much of the SMB and midmarket shifting as the pandemic ensued.
Such cautions include widespread reports of vendor lock-ins, arbitrary price increases, and data privacy concerns.
However, with a well-referenced vendor, businesses can guard against such concerns and leverage increased scalability, flexibility, and – in many cases – cost-efficiency. In addition, they can cut out lots of costly, IT-heavy maintenance work.
Frost & Sullivan recently released its rundown of these vendors in its 2023 Cloud Contact Center Radar. Check it out here.
Puzzel: Helping Contact Centers Move with the Times
“The contact center industry is at a pivotal moment,” summarizes the report, which cites several significant opportunities and challenges on the horizon.
Those best placed to thrive against this backdrop are operations with an agile foundation and forward-thinking posture, which allow them to keep up with the frenetic pace of change.
Puzzel provides the CCaaS and digital engagement platform that offers the agility to deliver smart, flexible experiences and power the future of customer engagement.
To learn more about its burgeoning tech portfolio, visit: www.puzzel.com