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2019 Enterprise Contact Center & CX Survey Results

  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 1
    At Enterprise Connect and on No Jitter, we’ve been saying it for a couple years now: The contact center space is hot and getting hotter. Contact center solution vendors are differentiating and experimenting with new functionality as a means to edge out the competition, while enterprises are doing the same by adopting emerging technologies and new strategies for boosting the customer experience. For modern enterprises, decisions that impact customer engagement aren’t limited to whether they run their contact center on premises or in the cloud -- that’s just one part of the 2,000-piece puzzle. Today, a wide array of technologies, factors, and strategies can affect the quality of a customer engagement.
    We took the pulse of the Enterprise Connect and No Jitter audiences in our first-ever Enterprise Contact Center & CX Survey, asking a wide variety of questions aimed at revealing not only how enterprises approach the contact center estate but also the manner in which they deliver on their customer experience goals.
    Among our respondent base of 165 enterprise contact center professionals, 83% have direct responsibility or are part of a team responsible for platform and other contact center technology decisions and management. The remaining 17% report having responsibility for directing or being part of the team managing contact center operations, including the workforce.
    Click through this slideshow for a sampling of our findings.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 2
    Deployment Models
    While infrastructure choices certainly aren’t the only factor affecting the ability to deliver a good customer experience, they’re a good place to start. As shown above, no single deployment model jumps out as the primary choice among our respondent base. While 30% indicated they maintain their contact centers on premises, 22% report using a pure-play cloud contact center provider or contact center as a service (CCaaS), and a sizable 17% -- given the newness of this model -- said they built a contact center using a communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) or API-centric approach.
    Consider the potential for some cloud hosting among the 11% of respondents who indicated they’re running their contact centers in a data center managed by a third party, and cloud deployments of one sort or another could account for as much as 50% of the responses -- and that’s not including the 20% who indicated they have a hybrid mix.
    Of the 20% of respondents who indicated they have a mix of models, most (80%) said they support some communications channels on premises and others as cloud services. The remaining 20% said they use CCaaS or CPaaS at some locations and on-premises systems at other locations. That is to say, the significant majority with a hybrid mix make deployment decisions based on channel, while the remainder do so based on location.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 3
    To Cloud or Not to Cloud?
    While CCaaS started primarily as an option for smaller contact centers, our data shows that some of the largest contact centers are beginning to adopt pure-play cloud contact center solutions. Of respondents with large contact centers (1,000 or more agents), nearly 30% report using a pure-play cloud contact center model, and the portion using an on-premises contact center solution shrinks to 16%, down from 30% for the overall respondent base that we saw on the last slide.
    For those organizations that say cloud doesn’t make sense for them, the two primary factors that bubbled up to the top of their concerns are cost and security/compliance -- both at 37%, as shown on the above slide. A distant third, at 9%, was loss of enterprise control.
    When we again look at just the large contact center segment, cost remains the main concern, at 42%, and the portion of these respondents reporting security/compliance concerns drops to 29%. Additionally, 11% of large contact center respondents cited inadequate feature sets as their primary reason for not using a cloud solution.
    Some respondents took the opportunity to explain their choices in more detail. One respondent said the contact center organization is prohibited by corporate policy to consider opex models, while another noted data loss prevention for call recordings as a specific area of security concern.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 4
    Show Me the Money
    How well a contact center does in delivering optimal customer experiences may very well come down to funding and budget. That’s something our respondent organizations seem to understand. Nearly 75% of respondents to this question indicated that their enterprises recognize contact center investment as important or highly important to the overall business. As such, they’re making modest if not significant investments in their contact centers. Only 5% indicated that their enterprises don’t see their contact centers as important to the overall business and thus spend little to nothing on them.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 5
    How Much Do You Care about CX?
    Not surprisingly, nearly 86% of our respondent base said that providing optimal customer experience is important to highly important to their businesses. However, our results show there’s some room for improvement. As part of the survey, we asked respondents to rate how happy they are with the customer experiences they’re able to deliver through their contact centers. They did so using a 1-to-5 scale from very unhappy to very happy. Only 22% of respondents gave themselves a 5, indicating they couldn’t be happier with the work they’re doing on the customer experience front. Close to half of respondents (48%) suggested they’re almost there, with a 4 rating. But 16% indicated they were unhappy or very unhappy.
    Looking at responses by roles, we can see that respondents with direct or indirect responsibility for managing contact center agents are generally happier than the overall respondent base with the customer experience provided. Of this smaller group of contact center professionals, 60% gave their organizations a 4, while 10% gave their organizations a 5.
    We asked respondents to give us all the reasons for their happiness or unhappiness in this area, and as you can see above, outdated technology was the top source of unhappiness, identified by 51% of respondents to this question. Having a sufficient, balanced staff was the top source of happiness, reported by 53% of respondents. Note that for every source of unhappiness, the opposite provides a source of happiness, as the blue arrows show in the above slide. For example, those with outdated technology are unhappy with the customer experience their contact center provides, while those who use advanced technology are happy.
    Some respondents provided additional insight into their happiness level. One respondent attributed being able to provide customers with “personalized tailored service” as a reason to be happy, while another respondent said an environment that had stagnated led to an unhappy rating. Other one-off sources of unhappiness include a lack of some basic features in a cloud solution compared to what is available on prem, a poor non-redundant network infrastructure, and the cost and time that goes with making contact center changes due to vendor dependency.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 6
    Who’s Running the Contact Center Show?
    Every contact center looks a bit different -- and that includes the person who’s in charge. As our data shows, a variety of C-level executives have their hands in the contact center. Roughly one-third of 148 respondents said the CIO is ultimately responsible for the contact center, and that’s presumably because the technology decisions fall under their purviews. CMOs and chief digital officers (CDOs) were in charge in roughly 16% each of respondent contact centers, and a chief experience officer (CXO) has the reins at 11% of them – any of these titles could carry responsibility for managing and maintaining customer interactions.
    Nearly a quarter of respondents told us the boss was none of these C-level titles, but rather noted roles such as IT managers, vice president of operations, vice president of sales, the COO, CEO, and call center director, to name a few. Obviously, the depth of the contact center management structure depends on the size of the operation.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 7
    Analyzing Agents: Numbers, Growth, WFH
    More than half of our respondents come from midsized or large contact centers, with nearly 30% at the upper scale of more than 1,000 agents. Of the 40% of respondents who expect their contact centers to grow in the next year, the topmost reasons are to allow the business to better deliver on customer experience goals and to provide support for new business initiatives. Some of those looking to cut down on the number of agents are looking to do so through automation, self-help facilities, and the addition of Web chat and social media channels. One respondent from a smaller contact center even said, “They think we are a cost center and necessary evil.”
    When it comes to work-from-home (WFH) programs, there’s a considerable divide among our respondent organizations -- 63% support such programs, while 37% don’t. From verbatim responses, we learned that trust factors into a contact center organization’s WFH decision, the cloud deployment model makes such initiatives more feasible than they are with legacy on-prem platforms, and these programs are beneficial when planning varying shift coverage and for business continuity purposes.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 8
    Channels Galore
    Enterprises have long strived to build multi- and omnichannel contact center strategies that enable customers to reach out to them via any communications mode of their choice. No surprise, then, that respondent organizations support a wide breadth of channels, with the venerable voice and email the most widely supported, as shown above. Of the 144 respondents to this question, 85% support voice/calling and 75% support email. Text messaging, not surprisingly, is a popular channel to support as well -- with almost half of organizations supporting text/SMS, a quarter of respondents using next-generation Rich Communications Service (RCS) to support multimedia texting, and nearly 30% supporting business messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Apple Business Chat.
    Twenty-four percent of our respondents support Web video chat in their contact centers. This jibes with results from our 2018 Video Collaboration Survey, in which 20% of enterprise IT professionals surveyed said their organizations support click-to-call video communication for customer interactions. With video communications generally viewed as one of the top growth areas for contact centers, we would expect the percentage of organizations supporting the Web video chat channel to continue growing over the next year or more.
    Additionally, we asked respondents to estimate the total volume of customer interactions for each channel their contact centers support. For example, only a handful of respondents said they handle no customer interactions via phone, while one in 10 said voice is the only channel they support for customer interactions. When we average all responses from those who see no interactions on a channel to those who see all interactions on it, we get these figures:
    • Voice/calling -- 63%
    • Text/SMS -- 24%
    • RCS -- 15%
    • Business messaging -- 19%
    • Webchat -- 19%
    • Web video chat -- 15%
    • Email -- 41%
    • Social media -- 19%
    Our respondents were fairly evenly split on whether they expect a change in volume for any of the channels they support over the next year: 52% said yes, they expect a change, while 48% said no, they don’t expect a change. Respondents cited a broad variety of reasons. Several pointed to the growth they’ve experienced in use of text for sales and support purposes. Others pointed to business growth that would surely impact the volume of customer interactions.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 9
    Interact with Me
    Contact centers can handle all sorts of different customer interactions. The chart above shows the breakdown of preferred channels for five of the most common: customer complaints, customer service, technical support, new product/service inquiries, and account change requests.
    Among all respondents, voice/calling, email, and text/SMS are the top channels regardless of type of interaction. For larger contact centers, we see heavier use of business messaging, Webchat, and social media in interactions, as shown on the above chart in the far-right column. Further, the volume of interactions taking place through the text/SMS channel increase across the board for large contact centers compared with our overall respondent base.
    Regardless of contact center size, overall the data suggests that simpler types of requests and interactions are taking place via text-based channels while more complex or sensitive interactions still come in via phone.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 10
    Digging into AI: How Smart Is Your Contact Center?
    Artificial intelligence (AI) or “AI-like” capabilities have found a sweet spot in the contact center, as shown in the variety of use cases listed above. The most widely used AI-like capability is analytics/reporting, with 67% of our respondent base using such tools currently; intelligent IVRs comes in second with 33% of respondents using the technology in their contact centers. These results don’t vary significantly for large contact centers.
    These data points show that organizations are most apt, at this point at least, to be using AI to gain an understanding of how well their contact centers are performing -- i.e., through analytics and reporting. The other focus area in general is for streamlining and optimizing customer interactions, using intelligent IVR and automated intelligent call routing to get customers to the best agents for handling their inquiries quickly; customer sentiment analysis to provide guidance on if and when to escalate an interaction, and to whom; chatbots for self-service; and bots to assist and coach agents as they’re interacting with customers, for example. However, there’s a big gap in adoption between analytics/reporting and any other AI-infused capability, with only intelligent IVRs and automated intelligent call routing cracking the 30% mark among respondent organizations.
    When asked about the benefits they expected to come from an AI investment in their contact centers, faster time to resolution, improved rate of first call resolution, and increased rate of customer self-service bubbled up as the top three. As you might expect, the respondents who have agent responsibilities overwhelmingly identify the top benefit to be an increase in rate of customer self-service, while technology decision makers identify the top benefit as faster time to resolution. Taken altogether, many enterprise contact centers continue to invest in ways to reduce the amount of time and effort required to resolve customer inquiries -- one of the golden promises of AI and automation.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 11
    Factors for Success
    As I mentioned at the outset of this slideshow, many factors contribute to operating a successful contact center and providing optimal customer experiences. But among them all, noted as highly important by our respondents, are: agent training/coaching capabilities, advanced analytics on customer engagements, workforce management/workforce optimization tools, and CRM integration.
    Clearly, respondents recognize that success requires investment in and a focus on both the customer and the agent sides of the contact center organization. In most cases, few respondents see little to no merit in any particular success factor.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 12
    Getting Down to Business
    To assess success factors for optimizing customer experience, we asked respondents to rate the six business initiatives noted above. Among them, automating customer-facing workflows, adding customer-facing digital channels, and implementing proactive customer engagement received the highest importance ratings.
    Interestingly, the initiatives respondents deemed not as important as the others are analyzing customer interactions in real time and analyzing agent experience and performance -- with nearly a 50/50 split between the respondents saying these initiatives aren’t at all important and those saying they’re moderately/highly important. From this data, we could conclude that these are nascent areas of interest for some enterprises while others are further along on them. Given the interest respondents showed in analytics/reporting (slide 10), we should watch for a shift in importance over time.
    And while our respondents recognize that contact center success requires an investment in both the customer and agent sides (slide 11), that they don’t seem to be yet recognizing or acting on the correlation of these factors with a successful customer experience leads us to conclude that they simply aren’t there yet when it comes to more complex initiatives like real-time analysis and improving the agent experience.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 13
    Emerging Tech in the Contact Center
    When it comes to the emerging technologies making an impact on the contact center, respondents consider advanced analytics tools as most relevant, with 54% saying these tools are highly relevant. This, again, aligns with the data point shared on slide 10 -- that two-thirds of respondents are using advanced analytics/reporting.
    Of least relevance among respondents is virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR), which indeed tends to be suited for niche use cases such as providing virtual tours in the travel industry.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 14
    Evaluating Providers
    Partnering with the right contact center solution provider can have a big impact on the customer experience an enterprise is ultimately able to provide. We asked our survey respondents to rate the importance of a variety of factors when evaluating contact center solution providers. For the 126 people who responded to this question, security, deemed highly important by 68% of respondents, and pricing and total cost of ownership, a close second at 64%, top the list. Despite plenty of buzz around developing more highly automated and intelligent contact centers, the lowest percentage of respondents, at 37%, gave a provider’s AI roadmap a highly important rating than any other factor. This finding might be related to whether an organization takes a best-of-breed or a suite approach. In other words, knowing the provider’s AI roadmap is only important to contact centers committed to the suite approach.
    Results don’t differ significantly when looking at responses from those who identify as technology decision makers versus those who identify as being responsible for managing contact center operations and employees. Generally, folks in these different roles hold similar views of what’s important in a contact center solution provider. All in all, from this data we can conclude that the basic factors -- like cost and security -- continue to matter to enterprise buyers, holding more sway than, say, an impressive AI roadmap.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 15
    Measuring Success
    From customer satisfaction surveys to call abandonment rates, many metrics help contact center managers assess how they’re meeting customer experience goals. The most common go-to choice among respondents is customer ratings/surveys, followed by operational costs, customer attrition/retention, and call handling time – the only other three metrics in use by at least 40% of respondents. Customer ratings/surveys also rate as one of the most important metrics to senior executives, along with sales growth, both at 22%, our respondents reported.
  • 2019 Contact Center & CX Survey Results - Slide 16
    Get Your Contact Center On
    Lastly, we asked respondents to grade their contact centers compared to their competitors’. Roughly 45% of our respondents gave themselves a letter grade of A+, A, or A- -- leaving plenty of room for improvement for the majority of contact center organizations. If you’re looking for more thought leadership content, ideas, and strategies for improving your contact center’s grade and the customer experience you provide, head to No Jitter for ongoing coverage from thought leaders, analysts, and consultants in the enterprise communications industry.

Discover the top trends in customer engagement in our first-ever contact center and customer experience survey.