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APAC Contact Center Market Makes Sweeping Change, Focuses on the Customer

November 14, 2014

While no two markets ever shift in quite the same way, it's never really a surprise to see markets change. People want different things out of just about everything over the course of a lifetime, so the idea of a changing market isn't a surprise, even if the timing and the methods often are. One major change in the market has come from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) contact center market, and there, the change is a rather fundamental one. Where before, the big focus was technology, now, the big focus is on customer service instead.

Demand for contact centers has risen throughout the region, and that's driving plenty of focus on the market itself. But with concerns about the economy worldwide still being felt, and investment on the decline in some markets, the contact center market is changing, and moving its focus away from getting in more and better technology to doing more with the technology that's already on hand.

One of the biggest concerns faced by the contact center market today is the so-called “cost to serve” metric, which is driving investment in somewhat different directions than expected. Cost to serve essentially calls for that “do more with what's on hand” stance, and thus changed some contact centers' minds sufficient to focus on things like workforce management tools and call monitoring. Multimedia systems also became important, particularly as users started to move from just calling in to a contact center to wanting several different forms of contact from text messaging to social media.

Frost & Sullivan recently took a look at this market in greater depth with its “Asia-Pacific Contact Center Applications Market” study, noting that the change in the market isn't likely to negatively impact revenue, just, somewhat, from where the revenue comes. The report showed that the market brought in $676 million in revenue in 2013, and expected that number to hit $1.1 billion in 2020. Krishna Baidya, who serves as Frost & Sullivan's research manager for information and communication technologies, noted that one other major growth vector in the contact center field: self-service applications. Autonomous customers in the market are growing in number, as Baidya pointed out, so being able to accommodate those growing numbers is particularly important. That requires new tools, and new ways of doing business, and those who can provide those tools and changes are likely to do well in the new market.

It's clear that the contact center is changing. People are more likely to issue complaints about a business through Facebook than said people are to call and complain, so businesses have to be ready to respond to those complaints. That's a different way of doing things; one of those complaints could go up at any hour of any day, and having a contact center staffed during normal business hours is likely to miss that complaint, and miss it for several hours at a clip. That can do incalculable damage to a business' standing and even to its sales, so a change to the contact center would seem to be in order.

In the long run, there are likely to be many more changes afoot as the contact center as we know it changes to match. But it's likewise clear that the contact center really isn't going to be the same any more, and it must adapt to the changed environment accordingly. As ever, that means challenges and opportunities, and a changing market that yields very different fruit.

Edited by Maurice Nagle