Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
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Sheila McGee-Smith | February 26, 2015 |


Engagement Models: Go Digital or Die

Engagement Models: Go Digital or Die Based on results from its 2015 contact center benchmark, Dimension Data says the tipping point for voice is near.

Based on results from its 2015 contact center benchmark, Dimension Data says the tipping point for voice is near.

Call me a contact center geek, but it is always with eager anticipation that I await the publishing of Dimension Data's Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report. This was especially true this year, as I was pre-briefed on the results two weeks ago and had to wait until now to share them.

The reason I'm so keen on this report is that Dimension Data's contact center subsidiary, Merchants, started publishing it 18 years ago, in 1997. With an idea toward being able to compare data over time, some questions in the research have remained the same, giving an unparalleled source for examining the significance of customer care trends over the years.

Another element of the report's continuity comes through repeat participation. Roughly 30% of respondents are repeaters year-over-year, Paul Scott, Dimension Data's global consulting executive, told me. Some companies may do the survey every two or three years during their own planning processes, to benchmark against the rest of the market and their industry, he added.

In addition to the view over time, Dimension Data's report offers truly global insight into the contact center landscape. This year's findings are based on responses from 901 participants, covering 12 vertical industries in 72 countries. The Americas account for about 20% of the respondents, the U.K. and the rest of Europe 36%, the Middle East and Africa 19%, and Asia/Australia/New Zealand about 25%.

Key findings from the 2015 report include:

    Up to 40% of respondents say IT doesn't meet current needs, and nearly 80% say current systems won't meet future needs. I believe these facts combined help explain the continuing success of cloud-based contact center solutions. In a growing number of companies, individual departments are implementing cloud solutions to bridge technology gaps.

    Social media is already the first channel choice for Gen Y globally, yet 60% of contact centers have no social interaction capacity. What I often see in companies is that organizational politics get in the way of implementing social media customer care. Marketing wants to own the brand and messaging and couldn't care less about customers wanting to use the channel for effective support.

    42% of respondents say they expect voice traffic to decrease, and 87% expect non-voice interactions to rise. For the last decade, the general sense in the market has been that the increase in the number of channels has not significantly impacted voice traffic. Dimension Data said it believes that is no longer true and that, in fact, the tipping point is near.

From my point of view, the most thought-provoking prediction from the 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report -- forecasting based on 10 years of historical data -- is that digital interactions will overtake agent-assisted ones by the end of 2016. It is more imperative than ever that businesses find a better way to gather and analyze customer data, and, ultimately, provide agents with a steady stream of predictive information based on a customer's prior digital interactions. In other words, they must engage in customer journey management.

This year's contact center track at Enteprise Connect 2015, taking place March 16 to 19 in Orlando, will explore cloud, mobile customer engagement, and other topics highlighted in the benchmarking report findings, as well as attempt to tackle bigger questions like customer journey management. In the track's opening session, "Contact Center Market Update & Executive Forum," Dimension Data's Robert Allman, group principal director communications, Contact Centre, will join executives from Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, and Interactive Intelligence for a Q&A panel with the audience -- no PowerPoint slides allowed!

So make sure to be in Orlando on Monday, March 16, and join me at the session, "Contact Center Market Update & Executive Forum," at 9 a.m. -- and bring your questions! (Register now and use the code NJSPEAKER for $300 off an event pass.)

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