A Glimpse Into 2022: How Can Contact Centers Plan Ahead? | Calabrio
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A Glimpse Into 2022: How Can Contact Centers Plan Ahead?

There have been many changes of the last couple of years in the contact center industry. Let’s take a look at lessons learned in order to plan for the future of the call center in 2022.

Hybrid working, The Great Resignation, and digital transformation are buzz terms that swarmed the contact center industry in 2021. Yet, perhaps the word “buzz” does them a disservice. Each represents a significant trend that goes beyond the day-to-day operations of many organizations.

One thing is true – such a profound period of change has proven difficult to handle. Many contact centers are doing their best to manage remote workers. Already facing conventional problems, contact center leaders continue to experience many difficult periods. Budget limitations, broken processes, and IT restrictions have caused some operations to enter crisis mode. With so many changes over the past couple of years, leaders have had to make knee-jerk decisions commonplace. Thankfully, we are finally seeing a change.

Our reports are showing that the future of the call center in 2022 does not follow this pattern. By better understanding growing trends and how they may impact the future reality, contact centers can start improving their decision making and plan ahead.

So, as 2021 winds down, it’s time to take stock of a chaotic year and look forward to the future of the call center over the next 12 months may hold.

Lessons Learned in 2021

There were so many different lessons learned from this past year. Before we can move forward, it’s always best to look back and analyze what we’ve learned. The biggest takeaways from 2021 are:

1. Attrition Is Only Getting Worse

Attrition has always been a significant contact center conundrum. Yet, the problem seems to be snowballing. As automation complicates the agent role, the open job market presents many new opportunities. On top of this, a recent Calabrio research found that one in three advisors will consider leaving their post within the next year.

This make 2021 seem like only the beginning of an attrition crisis. In this reality, improving agent work-life balance, reducing contact complexity and managing occupancy rates are crucial initiatives to safeguard retention rates.

2. Hybrid Strategies Require Constant Refinement

Setting and forgetting hybrid strategies is proving to be a grave mistake. This mindset contributes considerably to “The Great Resignation”, which is plaguing contact centers. After experiencing the flexibility of full-time homeworking the hassle of returning to the office has proven to irritate many.

Such a trend highlights the significance of consulting agents when building and reviewing hybrid plans. Combining this feedback with workforce engagement management (WEM) software will enable contact centers to enhance the employee experience.

3. The Demand for Digital Intensifies

As e-commerce grows, understanding and improving digital-first experiences is now a crucial skill for contact center leaders. Of course, bolstering the digital proposition is time-consuming and expensive.

Nevertheless, digital transformation is a matter of the fast versus the slow. If businesses fail to act now, they risk losing business to brands that provide an omnichannel service. Contact centers must build business cases with this in mind.

The Future of the Call Center in 2022

The next 12 months will present a series of new curveballs. Contact centers must consider these, in tandem with the lessons above, when planning. The following predictions will enable leaders to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Leaders Grapple with Complacency

Often, stakeholders judge the health of a company through revenue statistics and a north-star metric. Typically, this is a net promoter score (NPS). When these measures stay stable, there seems little need to invest. Very real problems, concealed within metric scores, are then overlooked.

Yet, to meet growing customer expectations further investment is critical. Many leaders will, therefore, challenge the status quo. Instead of presenting stakeholders with metrics alone, they will isolate fundamental issues to show how they impact customer experiences and create relevant cost analysis models.

Such models demonstrate the value of further investment. To keep pace with competitors in 2022 it will be wise to educate stakeholders through a similar process to secure more resources and overcome complacency.

2. Anticipation Becomes an Art Form

Thanks to a new digital-first consumer mindset engaging in conversations with companies is less appealing than ever. Therefore, contact centers must do more than sit back and wait for calls. Assessing customer journey maps to identify where common queries arise enables a more proactive strategy.

Even better, this process can remove contacts through mapping new, improved journeys, self-service, and automation. Doing so simplifies customer experiences and cuts customer contact. For these reasons, anticipating customer needs will move higher up the agenda for many contact center leaders.

Yet, expect many to go even further, turning to stronger speech analytic software to build predictive models. These predict how customer outcomes impact customer experience (CX), enabling organizations to be more proactive and continuously bolster performance.

3. Contact Centers to Connect the Enterprise

In many cases, customer experience strategies and journey maps are the product of third-party agencies. While the outcome may seem immaculate, there is often a failure in making these strategies operationally useful to each department. There exists a disconnect that disrupts the progress of CX.

In response to this, many department heads now have “customer experience” related job titles. These aim to connect leaders with overarching CX objectives. Such a trend has particularly impacted contact center leaders. Why? Because contact centers are the cornerstone of CX.

From connecting siloed data to channeling feedback, they hold the insights to create a unified view of customer experience. Business intelligence (BI) platforms enable this and are therefore likely to grow in popularity as leaders come to terms with the responsibilities of their new job titles. With this unified view of customer experience, contact centers will become CX hubs, highlighting opportunities to improve customer journeys across the business.

Embrace the Possibilities in 2022

Would you like to look further into the crystal ball? For more than a glimpse into the future of the call center, download Calabrio’s latest report: “Health of the Contact Center 2021” to discover even more emerging trends.

Dave Hoekstra has spent his entire professional career in customer service, but it wasn’t until he found WFM that he found his true passion. With over 20 years in WFM, Dave has gained insight into the real world challenges of working in today’s customer service. He is one of the few people who truly gets excited when someone wants to talk about Real Time Adherence or Net Staffing reports.
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