Interactive Intelligence senior VP, Joe Staples
A recent webcast hosted by unified IP business communications solutions provider, Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ), has revealed key 2012 contact center trends.
The webcast, attracting more than 2,300 registrants and featuring multiple industry experts, identified the following seven key 2012 contact center trends:
- The increasing use of remote agents.
- A renewed focus on the customer experience.
- The rapid adoption of cloud solutions.
- The impact of social media.
- The incorporation of mobile devices.
- The evolution of telephone endpoint devices.
- The focus on primary key performance indicators.
"Among the most important trends affecting contact centers this year is the increasing use of remote agents," said Forrester Research Inc. principal analyst, Art Schoeller, during the webcast. "Driven by more flexible staffing, reduced real estate costs, a broader recruitment base, and improved retention, it's clear why the use of remote agents is on the rise."
Also presenting during the webcast was Interactive Intelligence senior VP, Joe Staples, who discussed the adoption of cloud solutions.
"As vendors successfully address top customer concerns of security, reliability and control, it's no wonder that cloud-based solutions are growing," Staples said. "In fact, analysts forecast that over the next three to five years the market for cloud-based contact center solutions will grow at a rate of about 18 to 20 percent. Compare that to the growth of premise solutions, which is in the low single digits and forecast to plateau or even diminish over the same period."
During the webcast, results of an audience poll showed that a full 58 percent had either already moved their contact center solutions to the cloud, or were considering doing so.
Another trend -- that of social media -- also generated interesting poll results. When audience members were asked, "How are you using social media?" the largest number, at 45.5 percent, indicated they used it to listen to what customers were saying about their brand. That was followed by the use of social media to provide customer support (35.9 percent), and its use for lead generation (32.9 percent). About 24 percent said they weren't using social media at all, and about 23 percent said that they used it to facilitate internal collaboration.
Webcast panelist, Don Van Doren, founder and president of Vanguard Communications, emphasized the importance of social media to the customer experience. "Growing social media usage will have an enormous impact on how companies engage with their customers," Van Doren said. "Understanding how best to use these new channels will challenge traditional contact center thinking, and will require new system solutions."
On the subject of driving a successful customer experience, Schoeller shared interesting statistics about the growth of customer service jobs. Based on data from Indeed.com, job titles that included the phrase, "customer experience," showed growth around 100 percent in 2008, jumping to 350 percent in 2010.
"If there was any doubt about the importance of the customer experience, it's clear that 2012 is the year that it becomes the competitive differentiator among organizations," Schoeller said. "It's the wise contact center manager who heeds this and develops a plan that lets customers interact from anywhere, using any device, and across all channels, especially social media platforms."
Speaking about the wide adoption of smart mobile devices, Sheila McGee-Smith, webcast panelist and founder of McGee-Smith Analytics, said, "year over year, it's the attention that mobile customer care is getting that's the big change. Companies are frantically looking for solutions, and vendors are scrambling to create differentiated offerings."
Other trends discussed in the webcast were the evolution of telephone endpoint devices and a focus on several primary key performance indicators, including the use of real time speech analytics and capturing the voice of the customer.
"Given the quality of insight demonstrated in this webcast, we believe we've accomplished our goal of helping contact center managers, customer service vice presidents, and anyone in charge of managing the customer experience take advantage of the latest trends so they can improve employee performance for the benefit of customers," Staples said.