50% of Call Centers Cite Jump in Digital Channels During Pandemic

contact center worker tools headset and laptop for digital channels pandemic

Data keeps beaming in in confirmation of a fact: the digital contact center is here. Email, chat, social media, self-service: everything is going up. Voice is changing – average handle time is going up and calls are becoming more complex.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Head shot cheerful smiling pretty hindu ethnic girl sitting at table with computer, wearing headphones with mic, looking at camera

A new report from J.D. Power validates what we’ve said countless times: the contact center space is changing in favor of the experience center, based on custom-tailored interactions built on a foundation of CX, with the sole purpose to drive businesses to higher ground.

Let’s look at the facts!

Numbers Speak: All Digital Channels Are Going Up!

The current report begins by clearly stating that the age of brick-and-mortar call centers is finally over. It’s been decades since the idea began being floated in the contact center space. And now it’s here. The remote call center was forced to fruition by the COVID-19 Pandemic and maybe we should all be grateful for it.

The flash poll by J.D. Power looked at 124 customer service organizations spanning 13 industries in North America. The survey was conducted between May and June 2020. The result? Astounding success in moving to remote solutions across the board.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Web self-service volume increased for 57% of contact centers
  • Email volumes increased for 50% of contact centers
  • Social media engagement jumped for 47% of contact centers
  • Chat usage jumped for 45% of contact centers

Overall, this means digital channels jumped in volume for about 50% of call centers. Pretty compelling? Add in our previous report on consumer behavior that said 80% of customers engage with brands on social media, and we’re looking at one of the starkest and game-changing shifts in the history of call centers.

Some Signs of Trouble

The recent insight report didn’t stop at that, however. They also surveyed the organizations on call volumes, average handle times, customer satisfaction, and companies’ plans to implement permanent work-from-home procedures in the near future.

The results, while equally striking, were also a bit worrying.

  • 56% of contact centers say overall call volume dropped in May and June
  • Average handle time went up for 55% of contact centers
  • Customer satisfaction kept level for 92% of contact centers
  • Perhaps most revelatory of all, 86% of contact centers want to implement permanent work-from-home solutions

“Training new hires for eight hours via Skype is a difficult adjustment for facilitators used to training in person. It’s also challenging for new hires since the curriculum was designed to be delivered mostly in-person.”

The J.D. Power report speculates that Average Handle Time went up because of agents’ and customers’ needs to socialize more. That may well be true, but the complexity of the issues now being facilitated by voice must also be taken into account.

The study itself says most calls have become a lot more complex. Consumers do not expect the same level of customer support over voice that they had prior to the pandemic. Couple that with the increase in self-service and digital channels, and it’s safe to say people only call customer support during a pandemic when there’s no other way to solve their issues.

And the fact that permanent work from home is turning into a new reality further emphasizes the need for agents themselves to handle channels that don’t require a quiet work environment.

Change Is Here – Is Your CX On Point?

The current report concludes by dictating companies to change in response and adapt with better employee experience and better customer experience.

It’s clear that customer experience needs to be the catalyst that enables a productive remote contact center moving forward. For more on the topic of experience centers, we’ve prepared a 25-page eBook on why call centers are out!

You too can turn on the experience center today by going for an omnichannel contact center software that enables that, like our revolutionary OMNI+.

With a background in Anthropology and a passion for digital marketing and copywriting, Georgian enjoys translating complex, often technical, concepts into everyday words. He loves optimizing everything, from texts, marketing funnels, and PPC campaigns to visual creations, social media feeds, or landing pages.

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More numbers are here: a recent report showcases just how much the pandemic changed the remote contact center - all digital channels have jumped in 50% of call centers. What will be the driver for success in the remote contact center? Let's explore together.
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Anda Alexandrescu

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