August 21, 2008
Study Finds Growing Demand for Self Service in Contact Centers
By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor
As companies throughout the world continue to grow in size, consumers contacting those companies are less likely to talk to someone inside the company and instead will interact with a contact center agent. Sure, that agent could technically be an employee of that company, but it is increasingly more likely that the agent will be an outsourced individual.
To help control the cost of supporting customers around the world, many of these companies are turning to self-service options that allow consumers to gather information at any time and from any location. Such flexibility lends to the trend for more mobility among consumers and business professionals, improving the overall customer experience.
According to recent research by Forrester (News - Alert), contact centers in 2008 are leaning toward an increased emphasis on self-service and applications that provide greater insight into the customer experience. Much of this move has been driven by consumer demand, as well as the drive of the company to differentiate itself in the marketplace.
Organizations are also taking into consideration how to best support their customers through proactive means and to reach beyond the walls of traditional centers to include remote experts and home agents. Such initiatives are being taken to also reduce operating costs, while increasing the labor pool options for the contact center.
The 2008 survey completed by Forrester, “2008 Contact Center Technology Trends,” examines the attitudes and actions of decision makers within the industry and finds an increased interest in services that are delivered as hosted or software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) to reduce upfront expenses, without relinquishing control.
In addition, more companies are turning to outsourced and managed services for their operations as they are seeking to improve customer service deliverables, while also reducing overall spend for operations. The controversy over such practices is settling down as consumers have come to expect the practice.
The study also found that IP adoption continues to expand as more than 30 percent of companies have indicated that they have deployed or are rolling out IP contact centers. This is a significant increase over previous years and demonstrates that organizations are learning the benefits that IP can provide.
Forrester found that IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) managers need to demonstrate a positive ROI to justify contact center upgrades and investments, support more efficient operations, and improve customer support. In doing so, they will create a more efficient environment overall that will drive performance and productivity.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Eve Sullivan