Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

The Future of the Contact Center is in the Preferences of Generation X and Y Customers

November 05, 2013

What’s the future of the contact center? While this question is asked a lot in industry circles, an interesting answer has emerged: it depends on which demographic group you’re going to be serving. While older consumers may still be largely content with the telephone, younger consumers – those in Generations X and Y and the so-called Millennial generation – expect customer service via any media they choose: and they choose a lot of them.

ICT services and solutions provider Dimension Data recently completed its “2013/2014 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report,” which uncovered a number of challenges and emerging trends that show that that the contact center of the future will require a new caliber of technology and resources to keep clients engaged and employees happy. For younger consumers, this means that an integrated, multichannel contact center that covers not only telephone but Web and mobile channels as well as social networking, will be critical for success.

The report, which surveyed 817 participants covering 11 business sectors in 79 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Australia, and the Middle East & Africa, uncovered a number of interesting trends, including:

  • Customers are increasingly dissatisfied with their contact center experiences, especially Generations X and Y, who demand a choice of multiple interaction points beyond phone calls, including Web chat, mobile apps and social media;
  • As contact centers continue to transition their communications platforms, front-line customer service staff are leaving their positions at a growing rate; and
  • Web chat communications systems may be the remedy for increasing end-user dissatisfaction, as customers increasingly expect seamless interaction transitions from one channel to the next.

According to the study, the telephone was only the third choice for consumers in Generation Y when it comes to customer service. Electronic messaging and mobile apps were the two top choices for interactions. Companies unprepared to integrate these channels into their contact center are likely to be left behind.

But one of the biggest challenges will be the second point: as contact centers evolve, the old style of contact center agent may not be able to keep up.

“This transformation is creating increased complexity for contact center agents because they are not always hired or trained to communicate within these new channels,” according to Dimension Data. “As a result, contact center agent absenteeism is three times higher than contact center management; agent attrition is up an alarming 26 percent over 2012 rates.”

It seems apparent that contact centers need to be seeking out a new type of agent: a tech-savvy, multitasking professional who is good at problem solving and fast response. This means that the days of paying agents $8 an hour simply to answer phone calls may be largely over. Successful contact centers will need to invest more in their workers in order to build fully engaged employees who can, in turn, help boost customer engagement.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi