A price rise is coming! The cost of everything including commodities, energy, food, and the services we pay for are rising. This inflationary pressure isn’t just confined to the consumer it also affects services; system integrators and resellers must start setting customer expectations.
For the past 10 years, the CCaaS market has been going the same way as UCaaS for core services such as voice contact centre, IVR and self-service and ACD technologies. This has been fuelled by a crowded and highly competitive market which initially disrupted the CAPEX heavy CPE-based market, but increasingly turned to fierce competition between CCaaS vendors all looking to become dominant in the market. However, the race to the bottom cannot continue when faced with the spectre of inflation and the technology provided must deliver on its promises of cheaper operational costs and enhanced automation. There are 6,175 contact centres in the UK, these account for over 25% of the European market. Across the board from agents within the contact centre, to engineers who support managed services, the solutions architects who design solutions to offer measurable returns on investment, prices are rising.
For contact centre operators the rise in wages reflects an increasingly competitive job market; this has made it harder to attract talent into operational teams and harder to retain existing workers, especially in larger contact centres where flat structures make moving from agent to supervisor or supervisor to contact centre manager increasingly hard. This has begun to draw focus away from the core CCaaS technologies such as ACD and IVR to tools such as Workforce Engagement Management and Automation and AI enablement within self-service and IVR.
The challenge is to do more with less staff. Central to this is the introduction of enterprise workforce management. This helps contact centre’s to accurately forecast demand based on real-time and historical data taken from the ACD and used to schedule the correct number of agents, preventing overstaffing and delivering a measurable ROI. Furthermore, leading WFM tools also help agents enhance their work-life balance by allowing them to be more flexible in choosing when they work, swapping shifts with other advisors, taking up overtime offers and booking holidays. This technology also supports enhanced levels of agent retention.
In terms of reducing customer interactions that need to be serviced by agents, a key opportunity is a shift from traditional IVR technology to automated self-service by introducing a suite of AI-enabled additional modules. This can do everything from replacing DTMF based menus to end-to-end self-service via speech-bot and chat-bot to query information held within the CCaaS solution, or information taken via API within enterprise or propriety CRM, ERP and DXP solutions.
However, for many companies, this rapidly moves them away from a telecommunications focus to a more holistic position as a technology provider. This journey means that system integrators and resellers will need to lean more heavily on their vendors and take risks in position themselves into new markets, or they need to invest in greater talent within their business to ensure they have easy access to subject matter experts who understand this technology and how to implement it.
Central in this is educating customers on how to approach the question of automation. Many people ask for the technology within tenders but fail to provide information on the processes they which to automate. Ensuring solution architects understand the wider digital eco-system a CCaaS solution may be delivered into is central to where customer information should be held.
What is certain is that to keep up with the market and provide compelling business cases to ensure you retain your existing customers and attract new customers, companies across the board need to put their hands in their pockets and invest in both technology and high-quality implementations to deliver larger technology fuelled returns on investment.