The report looks at how contact centers managed customer communications during the pandemic and makes predictions for emerging 2021 trends.
In the first edition of this report released in January of 2020, we made predictions for a new era in customer service. At that time we had no way of knowing just how new the era would be, let alone the changes facing the contact center industry.
The 3,705 respondents who participated in our research lead companies that ideated and executed short-term crisis management plans that included forward-looking continuity and reallocation measures.
In this year’s edition of the Omnichannel Trends Report, we collected insight from over 3,000 customer service professionals across a range of industries from financial services to education to retail. For many, the abrupt shift to remote work prompted an increase in messaging channel and workflow automation adoption, hastening the speed of digital transformation. In fact, faster adoption of digital channels and automation has required workflow capabilities that make integration and segmentation faster for agents. On the other side of that same coin, across industries, there’s a need for better skills-based routing.
You can download the full report for free here. We’ve included report highlights below.
A rise in call complexity means voice is still vital
- Over half of our responders still handle inbound interactions through a PBX or manual phone.
- The Higher Education sector has the highest percentage of PBX/manual phone use compared to a call center system.
- Those in the Insurance and Finance sectors have the highest percentage of use of contact center systems to handle inbound calls and customer follow-up.
- While it’s true most contact centers have restructured themselves as omnichannel entities in favor of digital channels of choice, 2020 showed that voice is still one of the most immediate forums for handling complex needs irrespective of channels.
The spike in call volume could indicate the following things: 1) contact center growth, 2) customer preference for picking up the phone when requests are more sophisticated, and 3) mismanagement of digital channels due to lack of integration.
Productivity pains persist, the cloud offers a competitive advantage
The top four rated productivity needs for 2021 are:
- Skills-based routing
- Multichannel customer interaction
- BI Reporting
The most challenging aspects to manage were skills-based routing in multichannel environments, with those in I.T. having a higher selection rate (38%) of Skills-Based Routing compared to Finance (24%) and Operations (30%). While Operations had a slightly higher selection rate of Multichannel Customer Interaction (30%) compared to I.T. (25%) and Finance (23%).
AI-based & messaging solutions enhance operations
- On average, across all industries SMS had the highest selection rate at 54% followed by Email and Webchat.
- In particular, Healthcare and Higher Education had the highest selection rate for SMS as a future channel (62% and 58%, respectively).
- Responders in the Software and Insurance sectors selected AI/ChatBot as a future channel at a higher rate than any other industry (55% and 49%, respectively).
- Large call centers are more likely to implement AI/Chatbots than smaller organizations at 48% and 28%, respectively.
Quality management is the CX pressure sensor
39% of 2021’s Omnichannel Trends respondents are currently looking to up the ante on their QM processes and are in the market for screen and call recording tools specifically, investments are surely driven by the need for greater oversight in distributed settings. Equally advantageous are eLearning and remote coaching capabilities which 38% of respondents are looking to adopt in the next 12 months.
Top 2021 Trends
Here are our top three omnichannel contact center imperatives for 2021:
The agile cloud imperative: implement agile messaging capabilities to enable quick pivots and adapt communication plans.
The agent experience imperative: deliver digital customer experiences with a customer-first mindset by focusing on automation and internal workflow management that aids agents.
The integrated data imperative: unify information across important systems and invest in purpose-built automation and workflow solutions to avoid redundancy and streamline collaboration for frictionless customer experience.