Five9’s 2022 International Customer Service Index study has found significant changes in the role of customer service representatives.
The survey found that respondents had reported an 86 percent increase in call volumes, and 43 percent of respondents indicated agent calls are longer and more complex.
Fifty-three percent of respondents also highlighted the need for more emotional intelligence and empathy during customer interactions.
As a result, 90 percent of business decision-makers say they are focusing more on contact center agents and employee experience.
Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst of COMMfusion LLC and author of the report, commented, “The global pandemic has forced companies of all sizes to place new emphasis not just on customer loyalty but on employee loyalty and retention. Where ‘customer experience’ was once the rallying cry for many organizations, ’employee experience has come to the forefront as well.”
Other key findings discovered that more than half of respondents noted challenges related to returning to the office, including employees not willing to go into the office full time.
Forty-two percent reported that a lack of flexible work options such as a hybrid workforce or shift scheduling was also causing an issue.
The report revealed that employee preference against going to the office full time is the biggest challenge facing North American businesses.
Research carried out by Slack on UK office workers earlier this year mirrored the results of Five9’s survey, as three in five workers said they would likely start looking for a new job if hybrid or remote working was not offered to them.
The emergence of AI was also discussed in the report, with three out of four contact centers using some form of artificial intelligence.
Globally, 93 percent of business decision-makers agreed that AI could enhance self-service so employees can focus on more complex or sensitive issues.
Scott Kolman, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Five9, said; “AI technologies are now part of the overall contact center arsenal, providing assistance to agents, customers, and contact center operations.
“By embracing collaborative intelligence, where AI and agents work together to enhance each other’s strengths, organizations can improve both customer and agent satisfaction, leading to better business outcomes.”
The use of digital and non-voice channels has grown according to respondents, with 91 percent reporting a noted increase in email, chat, and messaging as a way of interacting.
More than two-thirds said they expect non-voice channel interactions to exceed 40% by 2024.
Earlier this year, Five9 and Onecom partnered to deliver a contact center solution built around Microsoft Teams.
Both businesses acknowledged that Teams had changed the game from an internal communication and collaboration perspective – but agreed that it is not enough on its own to run a business-critical contact center.