ContactBabel research shows that IVR, workforce management, email management and management information systems are amongst the most likely contact centre technology solutions to be upgraded or replaced in the next year, with a significant proportion of respondents using web chat and mobile customer service also looking do so.
Many legacy call recording solutions are moving to the cloud, removing the need for on-site storage and maintenance, while improving security management and operational flexibility.
The following chart shows respondents' current and future use of specific contact centre solutions.
In terms of new implementations, web chat and AI are singled-out in the short term, with gamification also receiving a very high level of attention considering its low current usage. In the longer-term, AI, speech recognition and analytics were seen by respondents as likely investments. This may show that businesses are serious about these solutions, or alternatively it may be viewed as something that businesses would like to do, but find it difficult to get around to as they have more pressing tasks in the meantime.
After some years of relative stagnation, interest in self-service has grown massively, driven in large part by the promise of artificial intelligence and chatbots providing a superior self-service experience than had previously been the case.
Looking to the top priorities for contact centre technology, omnichannel is placed within the top 5 priorities by 41% of respondents (although this is a decrease on last year’s figure of 55%). The various supporting applications, such as web chat, email management systems and social media still have significant proportions of respondents placing them within the top 5, although it is noticeable that these numbers are falling year-on-year as implementations actually happen.
While back-office integration has dropped in importance this year, it is still in fourth place. This suggests that respondents are very aware of the need to underpin the entire customer contact infrastructure - both front and back office - with a robust, stable and non-siloed infrastructure that allows a single view of the customer throughout their entire experience in an omnichannel environment. While back-office integration may not be the most glamorous contact centre solution available, this significant level of interest and planned investment shows the contact centre’s remit is widening to cover the entire customer journey, not just the voice element.
Homeworking has jumped as a top 5 contact centre technology priority from 11% to 26% in 2018, and future years will show whether this is a sustainable level of interest, or simply a one-off anomaly, although the rise in interest in cloud contact centres should also be noted in the context of non-centralised working.
Respondents were asked to give their views on what was preventing the contact centre from achieving its aims, assuming that there was a gap between what was being achieved and what would be ideal.
It should be noted that 64% agreed or strongly agreed that irreplaceable technology was a problem. This lack of ability to change or upgrade its systems may be around a lack of investment, or maybe more to do with the highly-customised and bespoke legacy environment that the business feels it requires to operate.
It is also of interest to note that 66% of respondents admit that siloed channels are affecting how they can provide customer service: most of these channels were added and integrated in a piecemeal fashion, and require the re-engineering of underlying infrastructure and business processes in order to provide the omnichannel experience which many respondents feel is necessary to improve the customer’s experience significantly.
55% agree that systems and processes are holding the contact centre back from achieving its aims, and a similar proportion were concerned about the limitations of their HR, and 32% of respondents thought that a lack of strategic vision was an issue for them.