Businesses are rapidly trying to reinvent the way they operate with many feeling the time to accelerate digital transformation has arrived almost overnight.
By Shaun van Rooyen, strategic accounts and partnerships manager for Infobip Africa
Increasing numbers are as a result pushing for more streamlined and robust technology solutions that can address today’s challenges relating to the connected consumer’s expectation from service providers. \
One space that has found itself under increasing pressure is the traditional contact centre which is experiencing an increase in the volume of calls -creating bottlenecks while other touchpoints being used by customers are not being maximised.
Traditional contact centres are having to adapt quickly and many are turning to cloud based solutions, in particular contact centre as a service (CCaaS). Any business with a customer service element not embracing technology will soon find itself under enormous unsustainable strain and a cohort of very frustrated customers.
Across the globe organisations have been forced to mandate employees to work from home and are now adopting new policies as a result. Employees for their part are also having to engage and communicate with customers remotely across channels that might have been unthinkable in the past but that today have proven most convenient.
Additionally, major industries across the globe, including the financial services and insurance sectors, that typically operate huge on-premise contact centres offering support services to their customers – are also having to rethink operations under the new world order.
In South Africa, as well as in many other parts of the world, companies are hastily deploying strategies to continue operating with remote workforces. This means that contact centre operators are having to scale down and put systems and technology in place that allows them to still communicate with customers via homebound agents.
CCaaS is critical to this new way of doing business, being a cloud-based customer experience (CX) solution that allows companies to utilise a contact centre provider’s software and access to hosted, virtual contact centre apps and features.
South African enterprises have not surprisingly shown a robust interest in adopting the solution in the first three months of this year but the popularity continues to grow indicating this is not a one-off quick fix solution but in fact a business model that brings longer term benefits.
Local contact centres have already been moving to the cloud, with technologies such as chatbots, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation changing the face of the contact centre, in line with changing customer demands.
Specifically, modern customers have been wanting to move away from traditional talk functionality, and demanding the ability to chat with contact centre agents via platforms such as live chat, SMS, email and WhatsApp – channels they are already using.
By giving customers multiple opportunities to engage with an agent, it releases a lot of the call volume coming into the call centre and improves customer experience by easing the frustration of contact centre queues.
Another clear advantage of CCaaS is the analytics and reporting capabilities that it offers to contact centres operators, which allows for the monitoring of agent performance, and the generation of reports based on conversations that can be leveraged to form FAQs and help to better define the services required by customers.
In addition, CCaaS gives organisations the ability to introduce chatbots and automation to their environment, which is key as contact centres are often now staffed by fewer agents, working remotely. By automating repetitive tasks and handing off basic queries and FAQs to chatbots, agents are freed up to handle more complex issues.
Agents will only have to handle the queries that bots cannot, so they will essentially be dealing with lower call volumes. This lowers the operating costs of a contact centre, as smaller teams of agents will be needed.
From a business perspective, CCaaS is becoming the preferred solution for contact centre operators in South Africa, as it offers scalability as and when the operational needs of an enterprise change, and provides several advantages over traditional on-premise contact centres.
The solution allows organisations to utilise a contact centre provider’s software, with the flexibility to only pay for the technology that is needed. This means that upfront investment is low, and costs are significantly reduced.
South Africa’s contact centre sector is mature and complex, and is increasingly shifting away from an outsourcing focus to a customer experience focus. Hence, the uptake of CCaaS is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future.