The rise of self-service technology in the global contact centre industry highlights a developing trend that delivers benefits not only to businesses, but also to agents working in the centre and to customers.

This is one of the findings from Dimension Data’s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2007, which shows that 13.5% of contact centres have already installed speech recognition, while a further 24.7% have plans to implement it.  

This trend builds on the already widespread use of online self-service in contact centres (21.6% are currently using this technology).  The 2007 Benchmarking Report predicts that because speaking is such a “natural” communication style for people, organisations will increasingly use speech technologies to automate simple contact centre queries, resulting in high levels of user adoption and hence improved efficiencies.

According to Cara Diemont, editor of the 2007 Benchmarking Report, the benefits of implementing speech self-service in a contact centre environment can be substantial. “The advantages to the business itself are huge.  If implemented well, speech self-service can achieve high levels of adoption from customers and, when applied to the right process, can improve efficiencies and lead to savings” she explains.

“In addition there are positive outcomes for customers, for instance service being available on a 24/7 basis.”  Other benefits include the ability to access service more quickly with less need to wait in a queue for an agent to become available.

“Self-service technology can also deliver benefits for agents, as it automates high volume, routine transactions such as balance enquiries or changes of address, freeing staff to deal with more complex, valuable calls. This drives staff motivation and satisfaction, addressing two of the contact centre industry’s most pressing issues – staff absenteeism and attrition.”

Diemont says the report reveals that on a global scale, industries that have the highest levels of installed self-service technologies are Service Providers (14.3%), Financial Services (14.6%) and the Technology and Media sector (15.8%), while the industry that has the most aggressive plans in place to install speech is Travel and Transportation: close to half (41.9%) plan to install speech recognition in the next 18 months.

Insight, opinion and analysis of self-service technology in the global contact centre industry as well as commentary on other contact centre trends including multi-channel development and the adoption of IP technologies will be available in Dimension Data’s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2007 to be published on 19 March 2007.