July 26, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
The results from the Contact Center Pipeline’s 2018 Survey are out! Contact center professionals from financial services, healthcare, retail, travel, government, manufacturing, and numerous other industries offer insight into the contact center world. From a focus on increased functionality to the constraints of limited budgets, contact center professionals dig deep into the current state and the future of contact center technology trends in 2018 and beyond.
Top Drivers For Technology Acquisition
Over half of all respondents (58.06%) identified the need to fill a feature or function gap as the top driver for technology acquisition. As contact center technology trends in 2018 go, this comes as little surprise. These features typically relate to omnichannel service models and workforce optimization (WFO).
Contact centers strive to offer multiple supported omnichannel solutions to customers, which can be difficult to fully realize. Bringing in specialized tools that enable this functionality dominate technology acquisition strategies. In terms of WFO, contact centers acknowledge agent attrition as one of the largest struggles in the contact center. Finding ways to engage agents and increase proficiency and retention provide an additional driver for technology acquisition.
In addition, end-of-life technology remains a challenge for contact centers. Almost half of all respondents (48.39%) identified outdated or unsupported technology as a reason for acquiring new technology. Unfortunately, these drivers are not strategic. Filling feature gaps and replacing outdated technology points to a contact center sector trying to keep up with the pace of technology. In terms of contact center technology trends for 2018, the C-suite will likely attempt to develop a more strategic technology plan that is forward-thinking.
Top Technology Acquisition Drivers
- 51.06% – Fill Feature/Function Gaps
- 48.39% – Replace outdated or unsupported tech
- 41.40% – Growth
- 40.32% – Stability/Reliability Improvements
- 22.58% – Transition to cloud from on-prem
Vendor Evaluations And Decision Criteria: Features And Cost
In the end, it comes down to what you offer and for how much. Survey respondents overwhelmingly identified features and functions (51.61%) and costs (51.08%) as the top evaluation criteria when considering a vendor. When this survey was last completed in 2012, 82% of respondents identified cost as the major criteria. It is interesting to see how contact centers have changed their view of value-added vendors. Perhaps this is because many contact centers worked with low-cost vendors that ended up adding little to customer care success. Regardless, the take-away is that function matters more and more to contact centers and their customers.
Top Decision Criteria When Evaluating Vendors
- 51.61% – Features and Functions
- 51.08% – Cost
- 40.32% – Ease of use for end-users and admin
- 39.25% – Stability, Reliability, Redundancy
- 10.75% – Support approach and resources
Security Tops Cloud Fears
Despite cloud storage solutions dominating most industries, in the contact center only 22.58% of professionals see it as a driver for technology acquisition. Why is that? The survey asked participants a pointed question: If you would not consider cloud technology, what are your biggest concerns about it?
60.19% chose security as their number one concern, well over the 32.04% who listed lack of control as a major concern. It is important to note that this question was only directed at those who do not want cloud technology. They’ve already made up their minds. On the other hand, almost 33% of all respondents currently are using cloud technology, and the majority of those who don’t have cloud technology yet are considering how to implement it in their contact centers.
For most contact centers, cloud technology is the next big investment.
- WFM, QA, VoC Performance Management Tools Best For Cloud – 34.48% have today, 60.34% are considering, 5.17% would not consider
- CRM Harder To Transition – 33.33% have today, 51.46% are considering, 15.20% would not consider
- 60.19% cite security as top concern for cloud transition
- 32.04% cite lack of control as top concern for cloud transition
Implementation And Reliability
In 2018, like in 2012, respondents continue to agree that “integrating disparate applications into a coherent contact center technology architecture remains the number one challenge” (CCP Survey, 2018). Technology is advancing quickly and aligning customers’ expectations for an omnichannel experience with old hardware systems and new applications remains an enormous challenge. In addition, respondents identified a shortage of IT and telecom resources as a top challenge when implementing new technology. This comes as no surprise, given the shortage of IT talent around the country.
In terms of reliability, most survey respondents believe they have average reliability. The technology issues they do have do not typically impact operations. For those that do have technology issues that impact customer experience, unfortunately, this number has risen. In 2012, 12% reported frequent issues. The 2018 survey shows 17% now have frequent issues. Perhaps increased technological complexity, as well as more cloud-based and interdependent network architectures are part of this perceived increase.
- 61.36% of contact center professionals have difficulty integrating with existing technology or applications
- 42.05% of contact center professionals see a shortage of IT/Telecom resources as a challenge to implementation
- Only 12.50% of respondents are unable to design or implement process changes
Reliability and Support
- 20.23% of respondents consider their contact center technology to be highly stable
- 60.69% find their technology to be mostly stable
- 16.76% have frequent technology issues that impact customer care
- Responsiveness of technical support structure ratings have decreased since 2012, for both vendors and IT:
Strategic Contact Center Technology Trends In 2018 And Beyond
It’s clear from the data that contact center leaders require a roadmap for implementing the contact center technology trends in 2018 and in the years to come. A contact center roadmap, or an assessment that tells you where you are and where you need to go, is the next step.
Download our free eBook Customers Drive, You Navigate: Your Contact Center Roadmap to Customer Care Success today to see how you can fully analyze the risk and reward behind a strategic contact center technology map.
Contact us today to discuss your contact center roadmap.
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.