Speculative headlines suggesting contact centres are on the brink of breakdown are circling the space. Is this accurate? Probably not. But the industry faces many significant challenges, some of which they have been dealing with for the past 20 years.
The latest research commissioned by contact centre testing specialist Hammer reveals that the majority of contact centres are under increasing pressure as contact volumes and agent attrition soar.
The new survey of 1,000 contact centre leaders shows that 64% of UK contact centres are having a hard time battling rising chat volumes, while 60% wrestle with an increase in call volumes.
As a result, agents are quitting due to increased pressure, as said by 65% of UK contact centres.
Fewer agents in the contact centre lead to larger call loads, longer wait times, higher abandon rates, and – ultimately – increased customer churn.
In addition, 67% of UK contact centres reported that frustrated customers have taken their toll on the mental health of frontline workers in the last 12 months.
To make matters worse, 61% of contact centre leaders said the frequency of outages has increased in the last year.
John D’Anna, CEO of Hammer, said: “While it’s encouraging to see so many contact centres willing to invest in new technology, the figures relating to the lack of proper testing, are concerning and highlight the imminent disasters waiting to happen.
“We’ve been seeing increasing customer dissatisfaction right across the industry during recent years. And, with hybrid working becoming the norm, delivering positive customer experiences could be all the more be challenging, causing yet more tension between contact centres and the businesses they serve.”
The solution is on the horizon
The report states that more contact centres are seeking help in technology to prevent the collapse of customer service teams.
Confirming that is the case is a statistic suggesting that 99% of UK contact centre leaders are planning to implement changes in technology in the next 12 to 24 months.
To get out of the rut, there are five areas contact centres are eager to invest in:
- Outbound telephony systems (13%)
- Chatbots (12%)
- Email (12)
- Conversational AI (12%)
- Web chat (11%)
Still, the majority of surveyed contact centres are not yet ready for the big change, with 86% saying they cannot deliver software upgrades fast enough to meet the growing demands.
This adverse trend seems to be widespread, as 85% of contact centres said they are not able to properly test upgrades and improve projects before going live.
Emphasising the importance of testing, D’Anna adds: “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 organisations who rush into it, without proper planning and testing, risk doing the opposite.”
To help contact centres react to rising expectations, CX Today’s Charlie Mitchell spoke with D’Anna about how contact centres can fulfil their potential in 2022.