At the start of the year, enterprise contact centers were hoping for a return to stability in the world of customer service. It’s easy to see why: the past two years-plus have been defined by spiking customer demand and impossible-to-predict agent availability.
But as we enter the final stretch of 2022, it’s clear that customer service has undergone some fundamental changes. Stability is no longer something contact centers can expect to come from the outside world. Instead, it’s a priority they must actively strive toward with customer and agent-first strategies.
Here are the most important contact center trends so far in 2022 – and what they mean for the future of customer service.
1. 2021 was a hard year, with almost 90% of leaders reporting that customer expectations have increased to an all-time high. (Hubspot)
According to Demand Metric, customer satisfaction remains the most important priority for almost 75% of contact center leaders. But with expectations at unprecedented heights, maintaining a high level of satisfaction has never been harder.
On top of that, many customer service leaders are now being tasked with customer experience and customer success priorities on top of contact center duties. Without substantial resource increases to match rising expectations, contact center leaders are focused on finding new ways to transform their operations without adding costs.
2. Retaining customers is a top priority, while cost reduction has dropped 10% from 2020. (Hubspot)
Along the same lines of customer experience priorities, contact centers have a renewed focus on retaining current buyers. As such, they’re less concerned than they were two years ago with reducing their spend given their growing role in revenue generation.
While this is a challenge in itself, the trend is a clear indication that contact centers are shedding their reputation as mere cost centers for brands. Recent data reveals that 76% of consumers say a poor customer experience negatively impacts their perception of a brand and one in three say it affects loyalty. On the other hand, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95% and grow revenues even faster.
3. Most companies prioritize the “ability to predict customer preferences/behaviors/needs” with new technologies. (Harvard Business Review)
New contact center technologies are emerging and improving every day. But contact center leaders are no longer focused solely on solutions that improve agent efficiencies or lower average handle times. Instead, they’re looking to technology that transforms customer experiences. Priorities include a single, unified view of the customer across all channels as well as customized customer experiences that are enabled by personalization capabilities based on customer history.
4. By 2027, automation will become the primary customer service channel for roughly a quarter of organizations. (Gartner)
But, Gartner points out, “Benchmarking chatbot performance metrics at one organization against that of its peers is not effective and can be misleading because chatbot type, design and complexity vary widely by organization.”
As Contact Center Automation reaches mainstream adoption, contact centers are entering a new era where effective solution evaluation is crucial. Leaders are taking a careful approach to automation strategies to ensure they’re set up long-term for the voice channel, omnichannel scale, machine learning, and data-rich analytics.
5. In 2022, inflation climbed to 8%, the highest in 40 years. GDP contracted in consecutive quarters and was predicted to be just 2.3% for the year. (US Gov)
The past six months have seen one of the largest periods of economic uncertainty in the history of customer service-driven companies. In light of the economic downturn, contact center leaders have been forced to choose between cutbacks and resource reallocation. While customer service departments have historically been seen as costly necessities – and are accustomed to the pressures of tight budgets – modern technology has changed how they’re approaching the current recession.
Customer service leaders from some of the world’s most trusted brands are turning to automation to alleviate agents from repetitive requests, and provide customers with added service capabilities that eliminate wait times while driving down costs.
Learn more about recession-proofing your contact center by downloading our free guide, “Definitive Guide: How Customer Service Can Thrive During an Economic Downturn” or watching our latest webinar.