Top 7 Call Center and Customer Service Trends of 2010
cAs 2010 draws to a close, it’s time for a bit of reflection. After tracking trends in customer service, crazy speech recognition videos, call center metrics and violent customer interactions for 12 months, it’s time for a bit of introspection. What did 2010 teach us about how call centers are changing? More importantly, where will 2011 take the call center and customer service industries?
Top call center trends for 2010:
- Outsourcing is on the decline Earlier this year, New York Senator Charles Schumer proposed a tax on outsourcing. Even though the initiative didn’t pass, with the economy still foundering and the jobless rate still high, fears of continued unemployment for many Americans are surfacing, and some people are directing those fears against outsourcing. In spite of the lack of popularity of outsourcing among jobless Americans, time has shown that the strongest factor in shifting this trend is economics. When the outsourcing no longer presents a cost savings, the needle moves back toward home. And because we’ve actually seen that shift in 2010,…
- Homesourcing is on the rise Despite sentiments turning against outsourcing since its inception, trends in outsourcing come down to cost effectiveness. In 2011, the primary reason for outsourcing, cost savings due to lower labor costs in countries such as India, isn’t as remarkable as it used to be. As wages in India increase, the primary factor that moved the needle towards outsourcing, economics, is now pointing towards homesourcing.
- Social media is taking customer service by storm, and more companies are jumping on the Twitter and Facebook bandwagon with their customer service teams. And yet, customer service is still not exceptional for most companies. In 2011, I expect to see more posts touting customer service as the new marketing and social media as the new wave of customer service. And I also expect to receive lousy customer service from most companies I call. As we’ve pointed out, social media doesn’t help if your customer service is bad to begin with.
- Self-service is gaining popularity. While IVR technology hasn’t changed much in the last few years, customer attitudes towards it have. A Harvard study this year asked How much of a relationship do your customers actually want? and discovered that, for routine tasks, “Consumers increasingly prefer self-service, and the authors speculate: Maybe customers are shifting toward self service because they don’t want a relationship with companies.”
- AHT is on the way out… sort of. In spite of railing against Average Handle Time as any type of effective KPI, studies show that most call centers still use it. First call resolution has gained in popularity as a more reflective call center metric, as has average revenue per agent (for sales oriented call centers), and many acknowledge that good agents may be forced to stifle their resolution skills if held to this antequated metric. My hope for 2011 is to bid a fond farewell to AHT as a Key Performance Indicator; all the cool kids already agree that AHT needs to be kicked off its pedestal.
- SaaS is becoming mainstream. Whereas hosted (or “virtual” or “cloud”) solutions used to inspire a substantial amount of fear over the lack of control of resources and infrastructure, the service model has been steadfastly proven in terms of both cost savings and security over the last few years. Research giant Gartner says that 75 percent of customer service centers will use a form of SaaS by 2013. As protectionism fades and cost economics come to the fore, we will see even more reports on the practicality of virtual hosting for call center solutions and a reduction in the level of security objections.
- Customer service still needs improvement. Whether it’s called “Customer Experience,” “Voice of the Customer” or “Customer Relationship Management,” companies need to do better. As the inestimable customer transformist Bruce Temkin recently graphed, “Customer Experience” began its buzzy rise in 1994, “Voice of the Customer” began its popularity rise as far back as 1986, and “Customer Relationship Management” peaked as the hot new buzzword in 2003. Whatever the hot new term will be in 2011, the terminology won’t drive new thinking. Rather, it will reflect changes in attitudes and direction within the market.
What about you? What trends have you seen rise in 2010 that will grow in 2011?