For decades, contact centres have faced numerous challenges that keep biting back. Meagre budgets, IT issues, and conflicting business priorities are all prominent examples that have long wreaked havoc across the space.
As such, contact centre leaders have become a hearty breed, known for rising to the occasion and putting out fires left, right, and centre.
However, with quick-fire technology changes, rising customer demand, and the so-called Great Resignation, perhaps these fires have never blazed higher.
Assessing the current climate within the space, a new global survey from Hammer pinpoints three concerning trends that are fanning the flames.
1. The broader business heaps pressure onto the contact centre
89% of contact centre leaders believe that the business has unrealistic expectations of them.
The report also uncovered increases in contact centre demand, call abandon rates, and average speed of answer across the industry.
Tying these two points together, it seems that many businesses expect contact centres to become progressive, proactive operations that play a critical role in delivering excellent CX.
However, increasing contact volumes and the associated challenges – such as hiring the staff to meet demand, managing service level, and maintaining a reasonable occupancy rate – are stilting the evolution of customer service operations.
Adding to this point, John D’Anna, President of Hammer, said at the 2022 CX Summit:
“Contact centres are feeling the pressure from the business. Meanwhile, contact volumes are still rising across every channel. On top of that, agents are leaving organisations in greater numbers than ever before… It’s a difficult time.”
Building better relationships with department leaders is crucial to proliferating the contact centre point of view and managing expectations across the company.
The trend of merging UCaaS and CCaaS solutions is facilitating these close relationships.
With them, operations can identify upstream issues with CX testing tools and team up with other departments to fix these. Doing so will lower contact centre strain.
Well-being initiatives must also take priority, as they may help to stem the flow of attrition.
2. Hybrid work challenges the contact centre infrastructure
The transition to hybrid work proved far from plain sailing for many operations. Still, headlines such as “Hybrid work for many is messy and exhausting” and “Is hybrid work the worst of both worlds?” are in no short supply.
Yet, in most cases, it is here to stay. So, that means overcoming engagement problems and other hybrid working woes relating to contact centre infrastructure.
The following statistics from the Hammer report highlights a couple of prominent examples:
- 69% of contact centres have experienced challenges around voice quality for home-based agents over the last 12 months
- 66% of contact centres say the frequency of outages has increased in the past year
Commenting on these worrying hybrid working trends, D’Anna states:
“If we don’t get new technology right, there is a very real risk that customer frustration will continue to spiral with alarming consequences for agents’ mental health.”
“Technology is supposed to empower agents, but organizations who rush into it, without proper planning and testing, risk doing the opposite.”
The switch to hybrid working resulted in companies accelerating hastily deploying CCaaS solutions, alongside several digital transformation initiatives.
Yet, as per the statistics above, companies must still tie up the loose ends.
Automated contact centre testing solutions – such as VoiceWatch, Hammer Virtual Agents and Hammer Ohm – can help here. By simulating the customer and agent side activities, the software immediately pinpoints issues, sounding the alarm.
As a result, contact centres can proactively avoid issues such as low voice quality and outages. The software also confirms that customer data is being delivered with the call, so contact centre agents have the information they need to resolve the customer issues without having to request these again and prolong the call and increase customer frustrations.
3. Balancing businesses as usual with development proves difficult
Aligning with the first trend, the study suggests that a conflict exists for contact centres to maintain business as usual while delivering upon CX improvement objectives.
Indeed, it finds that 66% struggle to maintain business as usual alongside change projects.
In addition, 87% of contact centres cannot deliver software updates quickly enough to meet the demands of the business.
Again, this comes down to a lack of resources. D’Anna adds:
“In the survey, most leaders said that they do not have enough resources in their developer team and that their dev ops is not agile enough… Something has got to give.”
As such, CX development plans slow to a snail’s pace, and contact centre leaders stick to their immediate priorities – ensuring day-to-day operations run smoothly.
Essentially, this is a time management issue. Consequently, designation, email management, and creating routines may help.
Yet, to save even more time, consider low-code tools. These quicken the design process of new CX solutions while not going as far as their no-code counterparts, allowing developers to customize features and add the icing on top of the cake.
Low-code/No-code testing tools are also available. For example, Hammer on Demand QA (HOD-QA) allows DevOps teams to rapidly set up use case-based customer journeys, which follow the same paths as ‘real’ customer calls (i.e., over the PSTN) and can be run as a real-life scenario against IVR and self-service applications. By automating common use cases, the need for manual testing is removed, providing the assurance that customer-facing and agent side features are working exactly as intended.
Manual testing is also a laborious and in-efficient part of the customer journey transformation puzzle, and Hammer On Demand Quality Assurance will help to automate a significant slice of the pie. Manual efforts alone only provides the ability to test around 12-15% of all use cases, whereas through automation, test coverage can be increased to >90%.
Gain more insights from the study
Eager for more analysis into the current state of contact centres? Then, check out John D’Anna’s keynote session from the 2022 CX Summit, where he discusses some of his key takeaways.
To gather the findings shared in this article, Hammer commissioned Censuswide to survey 1,500 contact centre leaders across the US, UK, and Australia.