A new report released today by Observe.AI reveals that many contact centre leaders feel optimistic about the future. The report titled “Post-Pandemic Contact Center Report: Understanding the New World of Work” tells that more than a half (67%) of leaders see their contact centre as a revenue driver, with 85% saying they that they will be in the future.
About three quarters (72%) of the respondents said they are hiring more this year, with the main focus on revenue generation. The contact centre industry as a whole has been putting effort into building resilience by investing in new technologies and processes to improve agents’ work experiences.
Swapnil Jain, CEO of Observe.AI, said: “Rapid transitions, especially on a global scale, raise crucial questions and we wanted to understand: “how will contact center leaders keep their agents—their foremost brand representatives and growth drivers—coached, engaged, and motivated to deliver exceptional experiences.
“What we found is a renewed commitment to humanizing the contact center, particularly the agent experience. Leaders who invested heavily in Contact Center AI and workforce engagement experienced tremendous success. Now, looking forward post-pandemic, we see more adoption of hybrid work use cases around collaboration, coaching, measuring performance, and keeping teams connected”, added Jain.
The online survey was conducted by Zogby Analytics and covered 251 US contact centre business decision-makers across multiple industries, such as Finance, Retail, Insurance, Collections, Travel and Hospitality, and Healthcare. The size of observed contact centres ranged from 75 to more than 250 employees.
Key report findings include:
- The future of work looks different, but not as different as you might expect – As of early 2021, 63% of contact centers operate on a hybrid model, while less than one-third (29%) remain fully remote. Once vaccines are widely available, this number of fully remote contact centers will drop to 7% with the vast majority continuing on with a hybrid model. This decline in fully remote workers could be attributed to concerns around security—75% of contact center leaders are still somewhat to very wary of their ability to protect customer data while teams work remotely.
- AI continues to rise, but challenges with technology remain – 71% of contact centers already use artificial intelligence (AI) for a variety of applications and are experiencing benefits—more than 90% agree that AI has enhanced their ability to collaborate, 85% say it has created more transparency, and 77% stated it has helped bring down their overall costs. That said, contact centers are not always using it to its full potential. Missing key functionality, such as accurate natural language processing (42%), and requiring too much manual work, such as compiling reports (41%), are considered to be the biggest challenges with existing contact center technologies.
- Agent Experience is a key area of focus for enterprises – Nearly half (49%) of surveyed business decision-makers believe that agent experience has a “strong” impact on KPIs and an additional 44% believe that it has at least “somewhat” of an impact.
- Contact center leaders feel confident about thefuture – 64% of leaders see their contact centers as revenue drivers, and 85% are optimistic that they will be a revenue driver in the future. Nearly nine out of 10 survey respondents say they felt at least somewhat resilient by the end of 2020, and are setting their sights on growth.
- Businesses are humanising the contact center – Rather than focusing on automation through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and chatbots, the majority of contact centers (72%) are hiring, looking to fill roles like agents and quality assurance specialists.
- In 2020, support needs grew across every channel, as did the pressure on agents – More than 80% of contact centers experienced at least “somewhat” of an increase in support requests across multiple channels, most notably phone (78%), email (65%), and website (56%). This increase put pressure on agents, with two-thirds (75%) of leaders noting their agents experienced anxiety throughout 2020. The pandemic also impacted the customer experience with only 34% of leaders feeling that customer satisfaction rates exceeded expectations.