white paper Strategy and Development: The Expanding Role of the Contact Centre

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1 white paper Strategy and Development: The Expanding Role of the Contact Centre

2 white paper The Expanding Role of the Contact Centre Executive summary Contact centres are assuming a more prominent role within enterprisewide customer management strategies. Whether it s through increased deliverables on multichannel solution sets, or by assuming greater responsibility in shaping overarching business strategies, contact centres have never been more involved in the development of the organisation and its success. Today s contact centres are part of a multichannel experience. Their role in providing a coherent customer experience lies in their ability to support the business in meeting customer expectations for advanced levels of interaction with organisations, using their channel of choice. The continued rise of mobility and the growing popularity of social media channels stand out as key themes in factors influencing contact centre strategies today in much the same way that CRM, the Internet and speech recognition has done over the past years. Dimension Data s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, which has been in existence for over 14 years, provides a comprehensive overview of current trends in the contact centre industry. In this paper, we highlight some of the key findings of the 2011 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report and outline how IT decision makers can leverage these insights to make informed decisions regarding contact centre optimisation and improvement initiatives. Power is increasingly shifting into the hands of customers, who are dictating how, when and with whom they will engage. Organisations need to ensure a more interactive customer experience that s consistent across channels, and use technology to better enable their own service capability, all while containing costs. Enterprise-wide process optimisation reviews can help forwardthinking organisations create clear service differentiators on areas such as, but not limited to, self-service. It s interesting and somewhat alarming that 84% of businesses currently believe their solution to be, at best, equal to the competition. As businesses become better acquainted with social media, they re starting to engage with customers, albeit for marketing rather than customer care purposes, in the early stages. However, once organisations move beyond a basic engagement level, a whole new world of opportunity awaits, one in which businesses can begin to use social media as a channel to find, win, retain and grow their customers. Only a handful of organisations are currently doing so. Those who succeed will be the ones that harness the power of social media for customer care and proactive customer engagement. How the role of the contact centre has changed The role that the contact centre plays in business has undergone a fundamental change over the past 20 years. In the early nineties when contact centres first emerged on the business landscape, their role centred largely on replacing traditional face-to-face interactions and offering improved customer access to the organisation. Technology infrastructures and business processes were subsequently built around these requirements. Organisations were faced with a commercial imperative to respond to increased customer demand for direct contact, but they needed to do it at a price point that would be sustainable. The mid to late nineties saw the emergence of two significant trends that continue to exert a strong influence on the industry. The first is a focus on process optimisation and the second is the need to migrate interactions to self-service channels. The early years of the 21st century saw a growth in integration across multiple channels (IVR, , speech, etc). Organisations adopted a strong commercial focus in offering their customers greater choice of channels at an even lower cost to the business. Technology investments and business processes were soon adjusted and redesigned in line with this new cost-focused approach. Nevertheless, even today, many organisations remain challenged to deliver appropriate levels of service at an optimal cost. The mid to late nineties saw the emergence of two significant trends that continue to exert a strong influence on the industry. The first is a focus on process optimisation and the second is the need to migrate interactions to self-service channels.

3 white paper The Expanding Role of the Contact Centre Expanding role of the contact centre Provide improved customer access Replacing face to face Process optimisation 1990s 2000s 2010s Source: Dimension Data s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, 2011 As we move from 2010 and beyond, the telephone is no longer the primary channel of choice for many consumers and the human agent element of contact centres is starting to play a different role in supporting other channels. The rise of social media, and rapid adoption of smartphones and of smart applications, is changing the way in which consumers conduct their personal business. And it s not just the Generation Y crowd who s driving this change. Many organisations find themselves operating in a new environment with old (10 to 15 year-old) technology and outof-date processes. This is creating a nexus for many organisations that recognise the need for greater agility and flexibility, but are constrained by the legacy investments in telephony and business process applications that require 6-18 month change cycles. Consequentially, we re witnessing a surge in planned technology upgrade activity as organisations acknowledge the flexibility and agility of evolving platform infrastructures. Leading industry analysts predict that there will be at least seven billion new wireless devices in the world over the next four years, and 40 new mobile devices are being sold every second. Without a doubt, the rapid adoption of these personalised mobile and smartphone devices, along with the proliferation of social media activity, is dramatically influencing consumer contact behaviours. Broadening channel access Channel migration for cost reduction Migrating to self-service channels Supporting other channels (not always first choice) Part of a multi-channel experience Organisations therefore find themselves caught in a peculiar paradox they need to accommodate smart devices and social media s impact on how they do business, while still finding ways to deal with the same challenges they ve faced for the past 15 years. Non face-to-face interactions (handled per channel) If there is any doubt about the reality of this multi-channel world and the challenges (and opportunities) that it presents, refer to the following aggregation of non face-toface interactions (handled by channel). The diagram traces the evolution of non face-to-face interactions over the past decade and a half. The exact percentages will vary across different geographies and s s industry sectors, but what is undeniable is the shift away from human agent interactions to alternative channels. It s important to note that the decrease in human agent interaction does not reflect absolute contact numbers, which have in fact increased exponentially over the same period. During the 2000s, the mix of channels began to take a different shape: has increased and there has been significant growth in the use of the web as a means of self-service. Today, we see explosive growth across other channels where social media is impacting customer behaviour, and new smart and online applications continue to drive an immense increase in the use of the web channel. As organisations have encouraged consumers to use lower-cost channels they have, by definition, left the more complex (and at times emotive) interactions to the contact centre for human agents to handle. Human-led contributions are recognised as being more important now than ever before, with agent knowledge and performance proving to be the single most important factor affecting both customer satisfaction and first call resolution. Organisations, it appears, are acknowledging this fact and respective investment into recruitment and training has increased between 50% and 40% globally in recent years. While the growth in agent numbers has slowed, organisations are still adding capacity, albeit in lower cost locations and homeworking environments where at least the required agent profile and desired skills can be bought at more affordable levels. 2010s Human Agent DTMF IVR Speech IVR Web (all devices) Other Source: Dimension Data s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, 2011

4 white paper The Expanding Role of the Contact Centre Leveraging channel use within the contact centre It s critical that organisations understand the impact of their multi-channel offerings within their own operations and across customer channel interactions. It is only once you understand your channel mix that you can truly begin to consider how to deliver a consistent and coherent customer management experience and strategy across existing and new channels. And this means moving away from disjointed or isolated approaches to doing business. Contact centres are still primarily focused on managing telephone and channels, but 18.6% are already managing social media interactions (with an additional third planning to do so over the next two years), according to responses to the 2011 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report. Based on Dimension Data s experience in the market and the results of the Report, it is expected that more than half of centres adopting web chat within the next two years, up from just under a half today. We anticipate that web chat and instant messaging will become much more integrated with social media as major players start to develop alliances. From a customer service perspective, this is likely to be one of the first ways that social media will be introduced into the contact centre environment. Organisations must develop strategies with the customer in mind. They need to make certain that they can meet and exceed customer expectations for service across numerous channels, while ensuring their business processes and technology infrastructure can support and cope with increasing, and evolving, demands. A practical starting point would be to put in place more stringent quality reviews across self-service channels. Approximately 30% of organisations currently have no such mechanisms in place whatsoever, according to the Report. Commercial drivers in the contact centre Contact centres importance with respect to customer management is on the rise and as their scope of responsibilities widens, their role will increasingly be recognised for the value they add to the organisation. This will best be achieved through the design and deployment of end-to-end processes and application of technology in the appropriate manner. Ultimately, we believe that the contact centre industry s primary objective should be to grow the value of existing customers. Yet, relatively few organisations currently rank it as their number one commercial driver. Empirical data proves a direct connection between staff and customer satisfaction. The question thus arises as to why nearly half of contact centres are not including staff satisfaction as part of their overall strategy. In contrast, there s increasing focus on several service and loyalty indicators including Net Promoter ScoresTM suggesting that organisations may inadvertently increase the level of attention they place on growing the value of existing customers via operational consequence, rather than by strategic design. Financial status of contact centres Organisations should be focusing on how their contact centres contribute to the overall profit of the business. There s a solid move in focus on the number of centres being viewed as profit centres (based on sales revenue generated), rising almost 10% in the last 18 months, according to the Report. The continued move towards profit centres should be viewed positively and encouraged, and appears to have been realised more so in traditionally mature regions who are leading the charge. A significant number of organisations have a sales strategy in place, which provides principal context and direction for the contact centre development strategy, further indicating a growing sales and profit centre focus. The sales strategy of organisations will continue to have more of an influence on contact centres as adoption of structured CRM/customer management strategic planning also becomes more popular. This is an encouraging sign that businesses are utilising contact centres to maximise cross and upsell opportunities in their interactions with customers. Contact centres are no longer accepting a moderated role and are using their improved strategic representation to take the lead.

5 white paper The Expanding Role of the Contact Centre Conclusion There s no doubt that we live in a paradoxical world. Our evolutionary mindset is fixed on keeping the wheels oiled by ensuring our business-asusual challenges are driven by a focus on continuous improvement. Some organisations are still struggling with the day-to-day challenges of achieving service levels, handle times, attrition and absenteeism, and as experienced management resource are pulled onto emerging channel management responsibilities, there are worryingly high examples of contact centre basics being neglected. There s a danger that management focus is stretched even further as we find ourselves constantly concentrating on the CS / DDCC-0866 / 10/11 Copyright Dimension Data 2011 revolutionary trends and developments that are forcing us to adapt our business and operating models. However, there are clear signs that change is being dealt with more effectively. Our industry has stronger governance in place and is benefiting from more experienced management that has a broader understanding of business issues and challenges. There appears to be a greater depth of management and more strategic representations that are driving a degree of resilience and maturity in how contact centres focus on running operations. Contact centre responsibilities will widen further as their overarching role is recognised for the value it can add right across the business will they ultimately take the lead? Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report Dimension Data s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report has a proud history of comprehensive investigation and reporting on performance levels and operations of contact centres around the world. It is widely acknowledged to be the most useful, authoritative and comprehensive report of its kind. It covers the full breadth and depth of contact centre management and gives rich information about dayto-day challenges faced by contact centres and current trends within the industry. For further information

6 white paper The Expanding Role of the Contact Centre Middle East & Africa Asia Australia Europe Americas ALGERIA ANGOLA BOTSWANA CONGO DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO GABON GHANA KENYA MADAGASCAR MALAWI MAURITIUS MOROCCO NAMIBIA NIGERIA SAUDI ARABIA SOUTH AFRICA TANZANIA UGANDA UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ZAMBIA CHINA HONG KONG INDIA INDONESIA JAPAN KOREA MALAYSIA NEW ZEALAND PHILIPPINES SINGAPORE TAIWAN THAILAND VIETNAM AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY NEW SOUTH WALES QUEENSLAND SOUTH AUSTRALIA VICTORIA WESTERN AUSTRALIA BELGIUM CZECH REPUBLIC FRANCE GERMANY ITALY LUXEMBOURG NETHERLANDS SPAIN SWITZERLAND UNITED KINGDOM BRAZIL CANADA CHILE MEXICO UNITED STATES For contact details in your region, please visit

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