It’s been widely noted that the last two years of pandemic have forced an acceleration of the digital transformation of many companies, not least those operating contact centers. We may have (mostly) emerged from the restrictions that forced this change, but there is undoubtedly a longer term legacy for contact centers, and impact on future contact center trends.
So what are the contact center trends for 2022? And, more specifically, what are the contact center technology trends for 2022? We took a look at the latest research to pick out some of the key things to look out for.
Tech is more important than ever
The first trend to note is that technology, in general, is looking more important than ever to contact centers.
In a Gartner poll of customer service and support leaders, respondents said they expected their tech spend to grow substantially in 2022 – up 7.6%. This is in sharp contrast to areas such as ‘facilities’, in which service leaders expect a 3.3% reduction in spending. This is, presumably, largely down to the increase in remote and hybrid working for contact center agents… more on that below.
Backing up this technology trend further, is CCW’s 2022 market study on the State of Contact Center Technology. It surveyed people in a broad range of job roles and found that 55% of contact centers hope to leverage technology to reduce costs or boost productivity in 2022.
Hybrid working models are here to stay
One of the most obviously pandemic-driven contact center trends, is growth of remote and hybrid working for contact center agents. Contact centers – including business processing outsourcing (BPO) call centers – are now typically operating a hybrid model.
Fonolo’s Contact Center Trends 2022 found that most contact centers have between 10-40% of agents working remotely, and Observe.ai’s The Post-Pandemic Contact Center Report: Understanding the New World of Work from 2021 found that 54% of contact centers planned to maintain a hybrid model, with staff supported from home and the office or regional hubs.
This way of working comes with its own technology demands, of course, but the speed with which organizations had to adapt at the start of the pandemic appears to have set them up for success. CCW’s State of Contact Center Technology market study found that contact centers have a high degree of confidence in their technological ability to support remote work. A clear majority – 52% – believe they are ‘very well prepared’ for this, with another 25% feeling their organization is ‘somewhat prepared’.
Cloud contact center solutions provided by the likes of Twilio, Ring Central and Aircall, all, incidentally, monitor the quality of their services with Spearline, are the primary technologies being used by organizations to help support this.Which leads us neatly onto our next trend…
The cloud takeover continues
We’ve blogged before about how predictions for the size of the cloud telephony market have been getting progressively more and more eye-watering, and this contact center technology trend is going nowhere.
The Deloitte Digital 2021 Global Contact Center Survey found that 32% of organizations were running cloud contact center technologies in 2021, and 75% expected to be doing so within the next two years (by 2023).
Some of the key barriers to adoption of cloud contact center technologies in the past have been concerns about audio quality (hint: we can help with that), and concerns with security.
But, when it comes to security, those fears seem to be dissipating. Calabrio’s State of the Contact Center, 2021 found that around 50% of contact centers have become less fearful of cloud security over the last five years, down to just 25% saying they think it’s their main barrier.
Data security is at the forefront
Concerns around data security haven’t gone away completely, however. Related to our earlier contact center trend on hybrid working models, Observe.ai’s The Post-Pandemic Contact Center Report: Understanding the New World of Work, found that 75% of contact center leaders have concerns about maintaining compliance and protecting customer data remotely.
And those concerns are understandable. In 2021, there were more high profile hacks of large organizations than ever. Big names like Microsoft, Facebook, Volkswagen and T-Mobile all fell foul of data breaches.
Anecdotally, we hear that contact centers have invested heavily in security in 2021, and we can expect this to be even more important in 2022. In fact, CCW’s State of Contact Center Technology study found that 32.81% of contact centers feel a key priority for 2022 is to improve security of systems and data. So, contact centers are keen to make sure their technology ensures that 2022 isn’t the year they get caught out.
AI ain’t going nowhere
One last contact center technology trend that we can only see gaining more momentum this year – and for many years to come – is the use of artificial intelligence (AI).
CCW’s State of Contact Center Technology study found that, when making technology purchasing and implementation decisions, 34.38% of contact centers feel it’s important that a solution incorporates AI/automation. And Observe.ai’s The Post-Pandemic Contact Center Report: Understanding the New World of Work reported that nearly three quarters (71%) of contact centers are already using artificial intelligence in some way.
Things have shifted over the last few years however, with the focus of AI moving from customer service ‘bots’, to making improvements to other interactions. It’s been reported increasingly since the pandemic, that customers have a preference for human interactions (and that businesses prioritizing this have experienced better growth). And, so, we see more and more contact centers using AI in customer intelligence, planning and optimization tools, rather than bots.
Uses such as predicting customer behavior and anticipating call volume surges, real-time call analytics and sentiment analysis, and AI-powered call-routing are already proving popular with contact centers. Of these, one of the uses to watch most appears to be sentiment analysis. Gartner’s Customer Service AI use case prism highlighted ‘speech analytics of sentiment or topics’ as having very high value potential for businesses, in terms of improving service quality, as well as having a very high feasibility from both a customer adoption and organizational-readiness standpoint.
In addition, CCW’s study found that 34.38% of contact centers feel a key priority for 2022 is to support agents by improving use of employee-facing AI, for example agent assist and robotic process automation (RPA), once again highlighting the potential power of AI to support human interaction.
New to Spearline?
Many of the contact center technology trends we’ve highlighted here – notably remote working, cloud telephony and AI-powered speech analytics – rely heavily on an organization’s assurance of the quality of its telecoms network. Organizations following these trends are wise to monitor the quality of the calls coming into and out of their network to verify both connection and quality of voice calls.
Spearline allows organizations to provide uninterrupted services to customers around the world. The Spearline platform in particular, tests inbound telecommunications services, as well as dial-out. If you would like to find out more, we would love to speak with you! Please send us a brief message, and we will be in contact with you shortly.