Fifth Quadrant has just released its 2018 Australian Contact Centre Benchmark Report which reveals that almost three-quarters of the industry (73%) is striving to improve customer experience (CX) through technology that optimises agent performance and delivers a more customer-centric channel offering.
Despite these efforts, contact centres are still facing challenges, with nearly a third of respondents (31%) claiming they lacked sufficient resources to meet business needs and almost half (45%) struggling to improve efficiency.
"We're seeing contact centres invest more in CX," said Stephanie Bauer, Head of CX Consulting at Fifth Quadrant. "An overwhelming majority (86%) of contact centres expect to either maintain or increase their operating budgets next year."
While the awareness of the importance of CX and the amount spent on it are both up, there are areas for improvement. "When it comes to meeting CX demands, we note that almost half (43%) of contact centres are not using a workforce management tool which is critical for optimising resources and service outcomes in the complex, multi-channel environment," Bauer said.
The 2018 Australian Contact Centre Benchmark Report surveyed 143 Contact Centre Managers and Executives across a wide range of industry segments including Government, Health and Education, Financial Services, Services including Utilities and Telcos, and Consumer Products. Key findings from the survey include:
- Overall growth in 2018 is expected to be 5%
- Outsourcing continues to grow, and the majority of organisations now prefer on-shore locations for outsourcing (78%)
- Phone interactions have decreased slightly as the increase of multichannel interaction continues, although Australians still prefer voice by a wide margin (71% of interactions were over the phone)
- Organisations are focusing on retaining staff through flexible work arrangements such as working from home
- The technology that will see the most investment this year is webchat (31%)
A Profile of Australian Contact Centres
Although the majority of Australian organisations surveyed operate one contact centre, this is trending slightly downwards as the use of multiple contact centres rises. The Financial Services industry, in particular, is seeing a marked increase in the use of multiple centres. The number of contact centre seats is also rising, with the biggest growth seen in centres operating 20-99 sets. Services organisations including Utilities and Telcos continue to operate the greatest number of seats.
Cost of Operations & Revenue Generation
The study reveals that Australian contact centres are willing to spend more to improve their operations. Organisations are spending the most on Human Resources with over a third of respondents planning to increase their overall budgets this year. The need to increase budgets can be correlated with the widening awareness of the importance of CX. The majority of revenue is generated via inbound contacts, but outbound revenue generation is on the rise.
Almost a quarter of organisations are outsourcing some contact centre functionality to third-party providers with after-hours contact as the most commonly outsourced function. Government, Health and Education is the most likely sector to outsource after hours, and Financial Services is the least. Over three-quarters of organisations utilise on-shore outsourcing, with the majority of outsourcing used for after-hours contact. Due to differing time zones, off-shore locations are preferable for after-hours contact. The most used countries for outsourcing for Australian organisations are The Philippines and India although the Philippines has seen a drop in use in the past four years.
The Rise of the Multichannel
In 2018, the rise of the multichannel will continue as organisations plan to expand the number of customer interaction channels available. While almost all organisations will continue investment in phone and email as primary channels, there will be marked increases in the use of social media, self-service, web chat, SMS, smartphone apps and chatbots. This reflects a trend seen in the US, where digital channels are slowly superseding the phone in the contact centre. It is thought that Millennials' preference for digital channels is driving this change.
Organisations are continuing to use technology as a means to improve CX. The most commonly used technologies are interactive voice response, followed by call recording, automatic call distributor, an E-learning system and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. Around two-thirds are using a knowledge/content management system or customer survey tools and approximately half are using workforce management tools. The least used technologies are biometric identification, video, and speech recognition/ analytics.
"The rise in digital channels can be seen in the tech that organisations are purchasing," said Bauer. "Almost a third of contact centres are investing in webchat technology, and we predict that by 2020 81% of Australian contact centres will be using this technology. Overall, it is good to see Australian contact centres both acknowledging the importance of CX and investing in tech-driven ways to improve it."
You can learn more about the trends and challenges impacting the Australian contact centre industry here.
Fifth Quadrant will be holding webinars based on the report on Tuesday, 27 March, Tuesday 24 April, and Tuesday 22 May. Mark your calendars. More details to follow in the coming weeks. To find out more, contact Fifth Quadrant today.