Connecting with customers is fundamental to any business, and in the modern age there are more channels than ever to achieve this. While many of these new channels bring distinct advantages, it is often hard to beat the relationship that can be developed by speaking to a customer one-to-one over the phone.
For most businesses of any size, managing phone conversations with customers typically involves creating a call centre, and while this used to rely on switchboards, today’s call centres largely exist online and are managed by complex call centre software. The concept of Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) has emerged in recent years as a way for companies to avoid many of the pitfalls of hosting and maintaining this software, by delivering these services from the cloud.
“CCaaS is a growth market,” Drew Kraus, vice president analyst in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice explains. “The technology offers greater software agility with a lower cost of ownership, making it a key area of investment in innovation and customer service applications that surpasses the offers of legacy premises-based or server technology.”
These benefits now look set to make 2022 the year that mainstream CCaaS adoption breaks through, with Gartner’s Magic Quadrant predicting that more than half of all contact centres will have adopted cloud-based contact centre services by the end of the year. Gartner also forecasts that voice will remain the preferred channel to interact with a business, with customers choosing speech interfaces to initiate 70% of self-service customer conversations by 2023.
Consulting firm Grand View Research estimates that the market for CCaaS solutions was worth US$3.88 billion in 2021 and that this year is set for robust growth as the technology enters the mainstream.
“The future growth prospects of businesses largely depend on customer satisfaction,” an analyst at Grand View comments. “As organizations realize this and focus on the need to enhance customer experience, the demand for better contact centre services is expected to rise, driving the market over the forecast period.”
This rising demand is expected to support a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 15% over the period to 2028 as changing business needs drive the deployment of new features, channels, and functions.
The covid pandemic has been a major driver of CCaaS adoption in recent years as more and more companies have had to abandon legacy systems that required call centre agents to work from single locations. While the acronym CCaaS may still refer to contact centres, the reality is that many companies now manage their inbound and outbound communications via distributed teams, with software providing the vital glue to connect managers, agents, and customers.
“The push towards a hybrid working model has been one of the most prominent shifts in workplace ideology in the wake of the global pandemic,” Sof Socratous, Vice President at A/V provider Poly, comments. “For call centres, this change has made a seismic impact on day-to-day operations. The classic image of a successful call centre as a tight-knit team, overseen by fast-responding management staff in a centralised office has been replaced by a more dispersed workforce.”
The latest research from Poly and the Call Centre Management Association shows that 79% of call centre advisors are in favour of a hybrid working model while 59% would split their time equally between the office and remote locations or be mostly office-based with some remote working.
CCaaS emerged as a vital element in this new paradigm by allowing organisations to keep the lights on and providing increased flexibility, lower technology capex, and greater scalability.
“The adoption of WFH (Work from home) agent technology has passed 50% across organizations thanks to the move to remote work during the early stages of the pandemic,” said Kraus. “Many leaders are now reviewing technologies and processes to optimize what is becoming a mainstream business practice of supporting flexible work environments for customer service agents, in addition to what will become standard practice for maintaining business continuity during future disasters.”
While businesses have started to return to the office, the benefits of CCaaS far outweigh the downsides and for many firms the contact centre of the future looks very different from the crowded call centre of the past.