While admittedly very anecdotal, with the start of the New Year it seems instructive to see some of the responses popular UK-based callcenterhelper.com has gleaned from several polls over the last year. Three are of interest and are food for thought. They are top of mind for contact center supervisors and/or indicative of trends now sweeping the sector globally. As importantly, they are not about technology per se, but rather about the role it can and should take regarding enhancing customer interactions and experiences, along with dealing with the critical asset, agents.
First, for those of us in the community who think semantics are important, especially as contact centers transform both technologically and in terms of their role in enterprises, you will find the answer to the question of a debate that has been raging for a while illuminating.
Source: Call Centre Helper website reader poll Votes: 430 Date: April 2012
It is actually heartening to see that “Contact Centre” (Contact Center for non-UK readers) is the preference. In fact, for several years I have been an advocate of the industry adopting this description and not just because of my position as editor of the contact center solutions community. Let’s face it, customer interactions and customer experience management have gone way beyond mere calling and it time to drop the “call.”
The second poll, which also got a fair amount of traction, was about the changing nature of contact center supervision. While it took a long view of things, you have to like the overwhelming responses concerning managers seeing themselves as customer experience guardians. What a difference a few years makes! Hopefully, this is reflective in increased wages for managers and those they supervise.
Source: Call Centre Helper website webinar poll Sample size – 291 Date: September 2013
The last one in many ways is the most important and while the respondent pool is small it speaks to the real challenges facing supervisors.
Source: Call Centre and Contact Centre Community Linkedin group poll Sample size – 31 Date: September 2013
This one speaks to one trend in the contact center solutions community that has been a real challenge for years, i.e., attracting, motivating and keeping the right people. As contact centers continue to transform and become even more central to overall enterprise concentration on the customer experience, it is clear that things like multi-channel interactions, big data, etc., are going to mean a ratcheting up of the skill sets of the typical agent. This is only going to make hiring and training that much more difficult.
It must also be noted that contact centers are not the only places where a shortage of skilled employees is a problem. In almost every aspect of enterprise IT, hiring managers are fearful of what is already a talent shortage. In fact, Cisco has estimated that in the mission-critical area of IT security alone we are already facing a 1 million person shortfall in the next few years.
What this points to is that enterprises, if they really are serious about upping their game in leveraging customer interactions into customer loyalty and permission to upsell, are going to have to spend more on people and their training. If vendors are smart, they will be part of the solution and not let the pace of technologic change cause discontinuities that make them part of the problem.