Ten years ago, there was no web chat, no smartphone apps and very few emails. Today, digital interactions account for 35% of all exchanges between brands and their clients. If the trend continues, digital channels will overtake telephone communications by 2017 – according to the predictions of the Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report by IT service company Dimension Data. The problem is, most companies aren’t yet ready to incorporate digital into their customer relation strategy…
SOCIAL NETWORKS AND WEB CHAT… and no phone!
When it comes to contacting customers, Gen Y (i.e. anyone born between 1981 and 1999) only use the telephone “as a last resort,” and prefer digital channels (email, web chat, social networks, mobile apps, SMS and video chat). Interestingly, these means of communication are also set to overtake the telephone for Gen X, (born between 1961 and 1980. Where customer relations are concerned, digital is thus fast establishing itself as the preferred channel. In the words of Adam Foster, Group Executive for Dimension Data, this report revealed “the most important industry change we’ve seen in the last 30 years: the growing irrelevance of the telephone-centric model.”
87% RISE IN NON-VOICE INTERACTIONS OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS
Gone is the cliché of contact centre staff glued to their telephone all day – or at least, it very soon will be. The report stresses the importance for contact centres to adopt digital technologies in order to remain competitive:
“The new generation of tech-savvy consumers entering the market – mostly Generation Y – use the phone only as a last resort for queries that couldn’t be solved in any other way. Customers younger than 40 would much rather use social media and web chat than any other way of achieving their desired service outcomes. So, for contact centres, the message is clear: incorporate digital channels into your overall engagement strategy, or face extinction.”
Currently, 57% of centres remain voice-only and 35% of agents are now multiskilled across voice and non-voice engagement channels, which is an improvement on previous years.
THE IMPORTANCE OF analytics
But it’s not just a question of incorporating digital communication channels: companies have to be able to measure the ROI of their investment. For example, are conversion rates higher online than over the phone? How many of the emails sent are opened? What’s the hourly cost of a web chat sessions?
The answers to these questions of course lie in data analysis. And yet 40% of contact centres have no analytics capabilities, and despite the strategic importance of Big Data, 52% of respondents said they don’t share customer intelligence outside of the contact centre. 40% of contact centre technologies aren’t integrated with the wider enterprise at all, and, what is more alarming: 40% say IT doesn’t meet current needs and nearly 80% believe current systems won’t meet future needs.
A number of solutions mean it’s already possible to improve the performance of customer services by allowing interactions over a variety of channels and using analytics to personalise and optimise loyalty strategies: for example, hybrid solutions that blend cloud architectures with legacy technologies. So there’s no excuse not to adopt Digital for All, Now!
A summary of the Dimension Data report is available for free (22 pages): 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report. 901 participants in 72 countries.
Photo credit: Johan Larsson – Dropbox / Flickr.com/ Licence CC BY 2.0