Independent Contact Center Consultants: Bridging Strategy, Technology and Operations Since 2004

2018 Challenges and Priorities Survey Results Are IN

In late 2017, we conducted our third annual challenges and priorities survey. Each year we tweak the list based on what we see happening in the market and what we learn from the previous year. We retain substantial consistency so we can identify changes and trends. Participants could select three of each, with no ranking.

Part of why we pursue this simple inquiry is to try to reconcile the barrage of industry messages and “hot topics” coming from vendors, analysts, and the media with the realities in the trenches. Technology innovation rocks the industry – from the channels customers use to the way their contacts are routed, serviced, and tracked. At the same time, our survey results consistently show centers struggle with some very fundamental things that are part of contact center DNA.

So, let’s jump in and see what we learned!

Top Contact Center Challenges

2018 contact center challenges

For three years in a row, the top two have remained the same: attrition followed by poor cross-departmental collaboration. The latter was followed closely by its sibling, lack of understanding and respect for the center. These strategic issues can impact other high-ranking challenges, such as omni-channel, poor self-service, no budget for additional staff, and managing security, fraud, and regulatory requirements. These challenges diminish when departments work together and understand the importance of the center.

If you want to raise the center’s profile, here are three simple starting steps:

  1. Invite every department leader to visit your center for a tour and some observations. A two-hour investment by each could trigger some nice “a-ha!” moments. Then, ask them to invest an additional hour each month to keep up to date and share some ideas.
  2. Create a one page visual with no contact center lingo that will make an impression. Use the end-to-end customer journey, channels and touchpoints, and/or sources of information to solve a customer problem to show how you and they are part of an ecosystem that surrounds the customer experience.
  3. Develop a monthly update that is similarly impactful. This internal, enterprise scorecard could show how departmental collaboration – or lack thereof – is impacting success in serving customers, driving revenue, and/or managing costs.

Top Contact Center Priorities

contact center priorities

The top priority is again to improve coaching and development with nearly a fourth of participants selecting it. That makes sense both in terms of the top challenge of attrition and what we see in practice. Self-service came in at a very close second (tied for first last year). Training moved up in priorities, as well as challenges. While it may only rank as a mid-level challenge it is a top three priority.

Two new priorities are worth noting. Improve employee engagement ranked fourth, with 20% selecting it. Artificial intelligence is perhaps the hottest of buzzwords but quite new. Nearly 10% put it high on their list, so it will be interesting to see how it fares in the year ahead.

This year the top priorities again exclude strategic initiatives. We know that the realities of centers and their environments make such priorities difficult. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try! Before companies jump on the next industry-driven hype train (Artificial Intelligence, I’m talking about you!), it would be great if self-service, contact routing, and contact handling improved across all channels, with a cohesive and collaborative approach to the full customer experience.

Success requires great leaders that “get” the role of the center and drive the focus on the customer. You’re not asking for too much! If your leadership isn’t in tune yet, start at the top and invite them in for a little discovery and discussion about your challenges and priorities.