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We’re living in extraordinary times! The current global crisis has had a serious impact on our lives, our businesses, and of course on our customers. Companies are doing everything possible to ensure their employees stay healthy while finding new ways of managing the unanticipated increase in contacts from all touchpoints from their customers.  The contact center is at the center of this new reality.

Global Contact Center Survey

Therefore this has made it all the more important for us to share the key findings from our recent global contact center survey. We partnered with market research firm Dynata, and targeted 700 contact center decision-makers, in 7 countries, spanning more than 10 vertical industries.  The survey identified “uncommon knowledge” which is especially relevant today, as physical contact centers are being shut down, forcing employees to work from home, and challenging companies to keep up with customer inquiries in new and creative ways.

Watch our short video for a quick overview of our survey.

Key Findings

The cloud transition is in full force. We learned from our survey that 62% plan to implement a cloud contact center in the next 18 months, affirming what we’ve been seeing in the marketplace.  We believe that cloud contact center adoption will further accelerate with COVID-19 (even beyond the 62% captured in the survey). The cloud has many benefits, but let’s start with the most relevant ones given the global crisis. The ability to scale up and down rapidly is relevant to today’s situation where more agents are urgently needed to work from distant locations. Many companies are reaching out to Cisco, looking for a quick to deploy contact center solution that delivers the flexibility, agility, and business continuity that only the cloud can provide.

Customer experience is clearly a strategic priority for contact center decision-makers. This is evidenced by our survey statistic which uncovered that more than half now report into a Customer Experience (CX)   executive – a significant increase from traditional contact center reporting structures. During these unprecedented times, we’re seeing many companies shifting into “crisis mode”, going above and beyond to be responsive to their customers.  The surge in online buying requires companies to update their customer journey touchpoints and implement self-service options that result in better customer experiences and business results.

Cisco's Global Contact Center Survey 2020 Reveals What's on the Minds of Contact Center Leaders - an Essential Asset for Business Continuity During Times of CrisisArtificial Intelligence (AI) is key to augmenting the contact center’s performance. 80% of survey respondents agree that AI-based automation and chatbots are critical to optimizing their contact center operations. We’re seeing this trend play out with the current situation, where incoming inquiries from customers have increased to such a level, that in response, intelligent voice assistants and chatbots are being deployed as part of call deflection strategies to make the call load more manageable for human agents. According to our survey, 70% of contact centers have experienced lower call volumes when chatbots are deployed. That is significant when considering the economic impact of offloading simple, repeatable and less creative inquiries to an intelligent virtual agent so that your human agents can spend the right amount of time with customers on more complex inquiries to help them get to a resolution on the first contact.

Agent experience has a direct impact on customer experience. 74% of survey respondents agree that satisfied agents create happy customers. We know that technology plays an immense role in agent experience and job satisfaction. Three out of four contact center executives say that technology and process issues are their agents’ greatest challenge. This trend will be amplified with more resources now working from home every day. AI technologies can be used to automate and improve processes, and turn your agents into “super agents” by arming them with pre-populated responses in real-time, helping them to get answers faster to consumers while improving their knowledge and productivity.

Contact centers rely on subject matter experts (SME). 2/3 of our survey respondents are using SMEs during customer interactions. This is a positive trend both for business outcomes and agent experiences. The complexity of incoming contacts to agents is rising, and it’s imperative that your resources (who are now working from home) are not isolated from the rest of your organization. 70% of survey respondents say that poor communication across organizations is a significant problem in their contact center.  Couple this with contact center technology that’s disconnected from company directories, teams, messaging, expertise finders, and other communications tools, and the problem gets bigger.

The trend today is to have all collaboration functions well integrated within the contact center giving agents greater access to all the resources and intelligence within the enterprise, enabling them to easily find, reach, consult, and collaborate with people in real-time so they can provide timely and accurate responses to your customers on the first contact.

Security and customer data privacy are top challenges for contact centers. When asked, 70% of survey respondents picked security and privacy as their number one challenge. The present circumstance is putting a sudden strain on IT and security teams who are being tasked with providing support for an unprecedented number of offsite workers and their devices. This reinforces the importance of keeping up with the latest security technologies that are designed to protect customer privacy and allow employees to stay connected to their teams and business operations from anywhere.

Closing Thoughts

Today’s new reality reinforces the importance of business continuity and resiliency planning so that contact centers can operate with minimal disruption during unexpected times of threats and disaster. While this crisis comes with many challenges, it also comes with new opportunities to think creatively, driving us all to find new ways for working better together and improving the way we serve our customers.

To see the Global Contact Center Survey visit: cisco.com/go/contactcentersurvey 

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