Canadian contact centres ill-prepared for future

Canada’s CIOs had better be ready to deal with their customers in new ways, according to a report issued last week. Canadian customers are expanding beyond mere phone calls into a variety of other communication channels – and Canadian contact centres aren’t ready to deal with it.

IT services company Dimension Data released its 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, which found that 93 per cent of Canadian contact centres predicted an increase in non-voice traffic. This compared to 87 per cent of contact centres globally.

contact centre stats

Canadians may want to communicate with companies via email, Twitter and SMS, but companies aren’t prepared to deal with the data that these communications will generate.

This could lead to problems for CIOs as they try to support businesses in customer acquisition and retention. Generation Y customers tend to use social media as a first contact, then web chat, then email, and finally the telephone, said Andrew McNair, head of global benchmarking for contact centre solutions at Dimension Data.

If their interactions are mostly via these digital channels, perhaps never even reaching the phone stage, then it will be important for CIOs to help capture data about how customers progress through the system, and how they prefer to communicate, he suggested.

“They need to do is create some journey mapping,” said McNair. A bank that wants to convert credit card applications must take the individual consumer’s preference about communications channel into account, along with data about the cost of interacting via a channel.

“Let’s say it’s 20 per cent cheaper to route a loan application to online than it is to do it over the telephone, but the completion rate online may be 40 per cent less,” McNair said. “Then it makes sense to have those inquiry types routed to an agent.”

Unfortunately, Canadian contact centres are behind the curve when it comes to analyzing this information. Analytics was seen as the number one factor to change the contact centre industry over the next five years, yet 67 per cent of Canadian contact centres have no analytics, compared with just one in four global contact centres, the report found.

Part of the problem is that Canadian IT is siloed, McNair warned. Systems simply aren’t joining the dots, and this extends across the whole organization, not just within the contact centre.

“In terms of operational processes, they aren’t sharing customer intelligence,” he added. “58 per cent in Canada and 52 per cent globally are not sharing customer intelligence across the larger organization.”

Contact centres face other challenges as their customers move to alternative communication channels. In particular, omni-channel capabilities will be lacking.

Customers will want to hop between digital communication channels, and they will expect companies to follow them. If their IT systems are already siloed, then contact centres will have a hard time doing that.

It is perhaps no wonder, then, that 84 per cent of Canadian contact centres don’t believe that their ICT meets their current needs.

McNair said that cloud integration could help contact centres to meet these future challenges.

“In the past, cloud was viewed with suspicion, but it isn’t all or nothing,” he said. “91 [er cent say that it improves flexibility, and 89 per cent say that it reduces costs.”

“Organizations are now understanding that there is a new hybrid architecture model available where you continue using the legacy architectures that are there, but then add to them and complement those with integrated cloud and hosted solutions. That’s gaining real traction,” he said.

Globally, the report found a 23 per cent decrease in direct ownership models among contact centres over the last 12 months. A third of organizations were now planning cloud integration globally.

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Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.

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