Contact center agents after unlocking are under high stress: Ozontel study

Contact center agents after unlocking are under high stress: Ozontel study

The dropout rate has risen 200% since 2019: Status of contact centers report 2022 uncovers contact center challenges and reiterates the need for an AI-based, omnichannel strategy

A study conducted by Ozonetel, a leading omnichannel provider of customer communication platforms, has unveiled new insights related to the contact center industry in 2022.

The study is an analysis of 22 million calls made on Ozonetel’s CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) platform by above 160,000 active funds in 2022. The report covers inbound and outbound contact center calls across Contact centers for e-commerce, restaurants and food delivery, insurance and high technology, banking, health and pharma, real estate and logistics.

The analysis found that this year contact centers struggled to meet customer expectations:

  • Callers had to wait longer: ‘Average time in queue’ is how long callers wait in a call queue before being connected to a company representative. This is an important customer experience metric, as the longer customers wait, the less satisfied they are likely to be. Compared across the same sectors, Ozonetel’s report reveals that, on average, callers waited 56 seconds to be connected to an agent as opposed to 45 seconds in 2021.

INSIGHT: Queue times are reduced when enough agents are available to answer calls. The spike in average queue times indicates that companies need to either increase the number of agents or improve efficiency – and thus availability – with features like one-click dispositions. Alternatively, contact centers can divert calls to WhatsApp or other digital channels via their IVR.

  • Agents must work longer to cancel calls: “Wrap time” indicates how quickly contact center agents can complete actions after a customer interaction and be available to attend the next call. This calculation affects both queue time and agents’ productivity. The time it takes After Call Work increased from 40 seconds in 2021 to 46 seconds in 2022.

INSIGHT: In efficient contact centers, agents can flag calls with the correct disposition within seconds. When they are asked to add more detailed notes or when they struggle to find the correct outline code, Wrap Time increases. The average wrapping time reported in 2019 was 25 seconds. This increase in Wrap Time indicates either an increase in agents’ post-call responsibilities or an inability to provide agents with disposition codes relevant to today’s customer requests.

  • Agents are struggling to cope with demand: ‘Average Agent Response Rate’ is the average time a contact center agent spends answering incoming calls. This includes the duration that the agent’s phone rings, but does not include the time the caller spends in the IVR or waiting in a call queue. This calculation has reduced to 7.7 seconds in 2022, compared to 8 seconds in 2021.
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INSIGHT: While agents spend more time working after calls, the time they spend answering calls has decreased, indicating that they may have less free time between calls.

The improvement in pick-up time suggests that most contact centers use an auto-answer feature to automatically connect calls to available agents without downtime. However, this measure alone has not improved average queue times sufficiently this year. Companies may need to rethink their contact center strategy more holistically. They need to invest in an AI-based, omnichannel self-service approach to reduce agent workloads and improve the customer experience.

  • Average talk time remains consistent: ‘Average talk time’ indicates the time an agent spends talking to a caller. In 2022, this figure is 3.7 minutes, which is the same as in 2021.

INSIGHT: In most sectors, we see that the average speaking time was 3.7 minutes. It is unlikely that conversations of this length can take place via digital channels, which reiterates the relevance of voice as an important support and advisory sales channel. However, the study also noted that transactional conversations have moved to digital channels such as chat and WhatsApp. The coexistence of these findings underscores the need for an omnichannel, rather than a single-channel strategy for contact centers.

  • Average drop in call frequency: When making outgoing calls, many calls ring to busy lines or go unanswered. Average pickup rates tell us how many calls are connected to a contact. The average pick-up rate this year had a drastic decrease ie 39% compared to 46% in 2021. But in the restaurant and food delivery industry, 96% of calls related to a prospect compared to 54% in 2021.
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INSIGHT: Low average pickup rates indicate that potential customers are not willing to answer calls. The study noted that this was true for promotional calls from unknown phone numbers, the high connection rates in the restaurant, food delivery and e-commerce industries indicate that customers were happy to answer relevant, transactional calls and a verified business number can ensure higher customer attention and lower call rejection.

  • Customer expectations are higher than ever: ‘Abandonment Rate’ tells us how many calls were missed by agents when callers were disconnected while in the call queue. On average, in 2022, 34% of calls were disconnected by the caller in queue, compared to 29% in 2021. This represents a 200% increase since 2019 when, on average, only 12% of calls were left in queue.

INSIGHT: This year we have an increase in the average queue time and consequently the interruption rates are also higher. However, compared year-on-year, this study also observed an increase in customer impatience. In 2019, an average of 82% of callers were willing to wait in a call queue for 79 seconds. This year, 34% of callers were unwilling to wait in a call queue even though queue times were lower (56 seconds).

The study noted that a small percentage (3-5%) of these calls offered a self-service or call-back option within the IVR. In such cases, dropping calls may not correlate with customer dissatisfaction, but these best practices are not widespread in the industry.

Customer calls are a valuable source of feedback and data, companies need to offer shorter queue times to their customers if they want to capture this data and resolve issues before it affects brand loyalty and reduces customer lifetime value.

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The vertical report card:

2022 has proven to be a challenging year for the contact center industry. Customers are fundamentally different post-Covid, and their expectations of brands have changed.

Sectors such as restaurants, food delivery and e-commerce have kept their service standards high, while sectors such as education have struggled to keep up. Here is a list of verticals that outperformed and struggled under various parameters.

Parameter Top performers Worst affected
Connection speed Restaurants (96%) Education (10%)
Collection rate E-commerce groceries (2.5 seconds) Education (14.5 seconds)
Wrapping time Restaurants (5 seconds) Education (81.75 seconds)
Time in line Insurance (27.25 seconds) Logistics (93.5 seconds)
Interruption frequency Restaurant (17.75%) Health services and diagnostics in the home (72.75%)
Keep time Banking services (1 second) Grocery e-commerce (43.5 seconds)

“Voice remains a critical channel for customer support and consultative selling, but this does not signal business as usual in the contact center industry,” said Chaitanya Chokkareddy, Ozonetel Chief Product Officer, “Customer expectations are clearly changing, and without an omnichannel, AI-based strategy, contact centers will find it difficult to achieve their customer experience goals.”

About Ozonetel:

Ozonetel is an industry leader in the Customer Experience (CX) space, offering businesses a robust, omnichannel platform to manage end-to-end communication flows. The AI-powered, full-stack platform has enabled over 2,500+ businesses to simplify, manage and analyze interactions at every stage of their customer communication and engagement journey. The platform helps businesses engage with customers at every touchpoint across voice, chat, SMS, WhatsApp and other digital channels. It fully integrates with CRM and other business applications and offers a truly omnichannel experience for customers. For more information, please visit www.ozonetel.com

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