New Five9 Study Finds Contact Centers Face Workforce and Technology Gaps as Customer Service Becomes More Complex

Contact center professionals responding to a survey by Five9 and ICMI reported an average agent turnover rate of 58%, noting increased workload was the top reason for attrition.

Respondents flagged legacy technology and staffing issues as their top CX obstacles.

Findings suggest opportunities for contact centers to embrace a digital workforce of AI-powered assistance for customers and agents.

Five9, a leading provider of the intelligent cloud contact center, announced the results of a survey conducted by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) exploring the current state and future of work in the contact center.

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“Contact centers will need to automate where possible and free up live agents for more complicated tasks, which also opens the door for professional growth opportunities”

The Five9-sponsored research report, The Contact Center Workforce of the Future, reveals that more than half of contact centers (55%) experienced a higher volume of customer interactions over the last 12 months, just outpacing an increase in contact complexity (47%). However, survey respondents reported significant customer experience obstacles, including legacy technology (51%), staffing issues (44%), and a lack of integration between digital and voice channels (37%).

Specific workforce and technology challenges uncovered in the research include:

  • Respondents’ average rate of agent turnover was 58% year over year, with increased workload and a lack of growth and advancement opportunities cited as the top two reasons for attrition
  • Lacking the necessary tools to effectively perform in the position, and repetitive, monotonous tasks had the greatest negative impact on agent performance
  • More than a third (35%) of respondents said engaging across all communications channels in a relevant/personalized fashion was a challenge, and 64% indicated that they need to increase the number of agents who support multiple channels
  • 92% of respondents believe their agent-facing applications are not as effective as they could be

As the report notes, these findings suggest opportunities for contact centers to embrace a digital workforce of AI-powered assistance for customers and agents. This includes technology such as intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) and real-time agent coaching applications.

“Contact centers will need to automate where possible and free up live agents for more complicated tasks, which also opens the door for professional growth opportunities,” said Callan Schebella, EVP, Product Management, Five9. “And as customer expectations rise, equipping employees with the right tools and resources will be mission-critical. To balance efficiency and employee satisfaction, the contact center of the near future will operate with a blend of live and virtual agents, and advanced analytics and modern cloud technology will be essential. For contact centers experiencing the shortfalls of legacy software, now is the time to innovate.”

Survey respondents seem to agree. When asked to share the top strategies their contact center is pursuing to satisfy customer needs, 42% said they plan to enhance self-service functionalities; 42% of respondents said they plan to launch new services/offerings to focus on digital customer engagement, and 27% hope to deploy AI and automation to streamline processes and services.

Additionally, 52% of respondents said they expect self-service to have the most significant impact on the customer experience in the next two to three years.

Results are based on a Q2 2021 survey of 313 professionals from diverse contact center industries and sizes. To read the full research report, click here.

For practical guidance on building and optimizing a digital workforce in the contact center, download ICMI’s “Digital Workforce Optimization” toolkit, an extension of the Five9 CX Maturity Model. The CX Maturity Model is an assessment and framework to guide enterprises through the next era of customer service in the contact center.

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