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The 10 Most Important Contact Center Stats of 2021

After a year of sweeping changes, it’s never been more important for contact centers to understand how global trends are affecting both customer behaviors and their expectations. 

Statistics from the last 18 months are rife with signs that point toward further transformation in the contact center industry. 

In 2021, pandemic-related challenges continued to fuel call volume spikes and customer frustrations. Workforce shortages made it harder than ever for contact centers to hire, train, and retain talent. And emerging technologies like conversational AI have accelerated digitization and changed what consumers expect from automated self-service. 

Below are ten of the most telling statistics from 2021, and how they will continue to shape contact center strategies in the coming year.

76% of customers are calling on the phone when contacting customer service. (Source: CFI Group)

It’s no secret that channels like chat, SMS, and social media are on the rise as customer service mediums. But voice – and the phone channel in particularly – remains a preferred method of service for customers. Contact centers should prioritize modernizing, personalizing and eliminating hold times on their phone channels to ensure CSAT scores don’t suffer in the most common place service is rendered.

91% of consumers reported they have experienced poor customer service in the last six months. (Replicant 2021 Contact Center Survey)

For customers, frustration was at an all time high in 2021. Lengthy hold times, inflexible IVR menus, and poor self-service options were just a few of the reasons customers reported subpar experiences.

The length of hold time matters when it comes to the emotions of customers. The research shows 44% of people report being annoyed, irritated or angry with a 5 – 15 minute wait time. (Replicant 2021 Contact Center Survey)

No experience was a bigger contributor to poor customer service scores than hold times. Due in part to staffing issues, and in part to rising customer demands, the public’s tolerance for hold times over 5 minutes waned in 2021.

56% of consumers cite automated telephone systems as the most frustrating aspect of poor customer service. (Source: Customerthink)

Contact centers have tried for years to find automation solutions for the phone that don’t sour customer experiences. But the results show that still isn’t happening. If a customer can’t fully resolve their issues in a natural, human-like fashion, they’re likely to be dissatisfied by automation.

95.7% of contact center professionals view customer satisfaction as the most important call center metric. (Call Centre Helper, 2021)

That customer satisfaction is the top priority of most contact centers is nothing new. But contact centers are seeing CSAT affect customer loyalty more than ever, and all retention and growth strategies hinge upon delightful customer experiences.

Download The Great Resignation: Why Your Contact Center Won't Survive Without Automation

Calls rated as “difficult” by customer service reps increased by 100% during the Covid-19 pandemic. (HBR 2020)

Repetitive and routine customer requests are often not difficult in nature. However, when they compound over time, agents have less time to focus on the rising volume of complex calls. Automating routine calls allows your most talented agents to focus on what they do best – find creative and empathetic solutions for difficult problems.

Benefits of Big Data Analytics in Customer Service (NewVantage; Syncsort; Hosting Tribunal 2021)

  • 59.0% Reduction in operational costs
  • 59.9% Increase in productivity
  • 36.2% Better decision-making

The need for rich analytics and deep insights into customer service interactions has never been higher. Luckily, intelligent end-to-end dashboards mean conversations are no longer a black box. Customers who fully leveraged contact center data in 2021 made better decisions, were more productive, and are set up for greater success in the future.

55% of call centers spend 6-12 weeks training and onboarding new agents. (CallCenterhelper 2021)

As agent churn increased in tandem with hiring needs, training and onboarding became an unignorable obstacle for every contact center. The time, money, and resources spent onboarding new agents can only be avoided with technology like conversational AI – which only needs to be trained once and improves automatically over time.

Less than 10% of contact centers have agents reaching proficiency in less than two months. (CallCenterhelper 2021)

Even after an agent is onboarded, it takes months for them to perform at their peak abilities. Contact centers must place an emphasis on agent empowerment – giving them tools to focus on complex calls that keep them engaged and avoid performing repetitive interactions that can lead to burnout and greater attrition.

Conversational AI resolves 100% of tier-1 issues. 

Conversational AI uses natural language processing, machine learning, and big data to enable computers to converse in a human-like way. This can be via voice, SMS, or chat. Customers can express themselves as if they were talking to a human agent and, through speech recognition, conversational AI is able to flexibly scale to resolve 100% of tier-1 calls at cost, transforming the operational efficiency of contact centers. It is the closest thing there is to talking to a human.

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