2010 Contact Center Trends
2009 was a very important year for the contact center market, one in which the groundwork was laid for valuable changes that are expected in 2010. We went into 2009 knowing very little about unified communications (UC), and, while its full value proposition is not yet clear, enterprises are beginning to appreciate the need to understand it better before making major investments in telephony, messaging or mobile infrastructure. They also recognize that presence, a key feature of session initiation protocol (SIP), is an application that will likely benefit their organization.
2009 was a year in which hosted/software as a service (SaaS) based contact center infrastructure achieved market acceptance. While its adoption rate was only 2.2% of all contact center seats as of the end of 2008, DMG expects the number of hosted contact center seats to grow by 35% during 2010. (See DMG’s 2009 Hosted Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report.) DMG is also seeing a great deal of demand for workforce management on a hosted basis, and other contact center solutions are starting to be implemented as SaaS solutions.
Analytics Picks up Momentum
Analytics is beginning to play an increasingly important role in contact centers. It is an emerging area that includes many different applications: quality assurance, desktop analytics, IVR analytics, and performance management to better manage contact center operations; and speech, real-time, predictive, customer experience, Web, customer feedback and customer value analytics to gain customer insights. 2010 is expected to be a very good year for a number of these applications. Speech analytics, which structures unstructured phone conversations in order to identify customer needs and insights, is expected to grow by 40% during 2010. As importantly, speech analytics will start to expand beyond the boundaries of contact centers, as managers in other enterprise areas, such as marketing and operations, realize its potential for helping them achieve important goals like generating revenue, retaining customers and reducing operating expenses.
In 2010/2011, DMG anticipates that desktop analytics, an internally-oriented solution that captures, tracks and analyzes everything that happens on an agent’s desktop, will start to see significant adoption. Over the next few years DMG also expects to see increasing use of predictive analytics. All of these analytical solutions and more will be instrumental in improving the performance of contact centers and helping them extend their reach, contributions and influence within enterprises.
In the coming year, the industry is going to see enterprises make significant investments in building multi-channel contact centers with standardized technology and processes to handle all types of customer transactions. (Most contact centers today handle various channels on a soloed basis, which is costly and frustrates customers.)
Mobile Technologies Enter Contact Centers
The adoption of mobile technologies is another important trend. Mobile devices are not yet commonly used within the contact center, but market innovation during the past 2 years has made them viable tools that are expected to be leveraged starting in 2010. Many contact centers are also struggling to figure out how to incorporate the short message service (SMS) channel into their operations.
Social Network is Changing the Game
Social networking is another trend that came to the forefront in 2009; it is here to stay and will have a major impact on all enterprises and their service infrastructures in the year ahead, and beyond. Though Twitter may be just a fad that will not have for a lasting impact on enterprises, other new media capabilities are bound to come around that force even the most traditional service organizations to either adapt or lose their customers to more flexible companies.
Self-Service to the Rescue
Lastly, self-service received a huge amount of attention and investment in 2009, and this will continue into 2010. Many enterprises, feeling pressure to reduce contact center operating costs, have looked to increase the use of their self-service applications. During 2010, enterprises will invest in optimizing the performance of their voice self-service solutions. This will vastly improve the quality of these applications, increasing customer satisfaction while enhancing automation rates, thereby reducing contact center operating expenses. Improved Web-based self-service solutions and better offerings from speech-enabled IVR vendors, particularly the hosted and managed service providers, have enabled this market to come on very strong. Enterprise senior management no longer takes IVR solutions for granted; instead, they see these applications as a way to continuously enhance operating environments inside and outside of the contact center.
2010 is expected to be a better year for contact center investments. Budgets will still be tight, but a growing number of enterprises with critical needs will be willing to make selective investments when the value proposition and ROI are strong.
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Ask the Experts
How can I define the intangibles on a return on investment (ROI) for quality monitoring in our contact center?
Most companies have approval guidelines for technology investments. The guidelines are almost always based on “hard” quantifiable benefits. Examples of hard quantifiable benefits that can be used to justify an investment in a quality monitoring application include: reduction in agent average handle time, reduction in carrier fees, reduction in number of transactions received, increase in first call resolution rate, reduction in hold time, reduction in transferred calls, etc. These are all categories that can be measured and tracked. In general, chief financial officers (CFOs) will approve investments that are based on quantifiable cost savings. Additionally, some CFOs will approve investments that are based on cost avoidance, while others will not.
“Soft” intangible ROI benefits can be significant for some investments, but are generally hard to quantify and measure. For this reason, most CFOs will not approve investments based on “soft” criteria. When investment dollars are limited, which is often the case during a recession, it becomes even more important to base a project’s benefits on categories that the enterprise prioritizes, such as an increase in revenue, decrease in customer attrition or productivity improvements. Soft ROI benefits can be used to augment a business case (return on investment analysis), but should not be used alone.
While an investment that is justified based on quantifiable benefits is more likely to be approved, intangible benefits are often very significant, even if they are difficult to measure. Quality monitoring applications, when used properly, deliver both quantifiable and intangible benefits.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.