U.S. enterprises increasingly prefer onshore or nearshore service delivery from their contact center service providers, and providers are responding by expanding their capabilities in the U.S., including embracing digital technologies to enhance the customer experience, a new report from Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm, has found.
The ISG Provider Lens™ Contact Center Customer Experience Services Quadrant Report, which evaluates providers serving the U.S. market, also shows enterprise buyers of contact center services now value customer experience over cost savings, and view their contact centers as competitive differentiators and revenue generators. They also want their service providers to invest in digital technologies, such as automation and analytics, to improve customer service, engagement and experience. Some also may be anticipating regulations that will favor onshore delivery as they make their provider choices.
Contact center service providers, for their part, are focused on developing their businesses in the key U.S. market. The ISG report cites an uptick in the number of mergers and acquisitions in this space in recent years as evidence providers are looking to expand their market share and presence in the U.S. The report notes examples of such M&A activity, including Alorica’s acquisition of Expert Global Solutions (EGS) in 2016 following its purchase of West Corporation’s agent services business in 2015, and Paris-based Teleperformance’s acquisition of Aegis USA in 2014.
Technological advancements are rapidly expanding the contact center services market, as providers adopt omnichannel solutions to cater to customers, especially tech-savvy millennials who are seeking the most convenient channels of communication to get faster or even instant responses to their queries. The report finds the volume of voice calls is decreasing, as, on average, about 30 percent of customer interactions now are being resolved through non-voice channels, such as chat. ISG expects this trend to accelerate, although voice will remain the channel of preference for handling complex issues, the report said.
The report also found automation is becoming the most important factor in contact center services outsourcing. Most basic-level queries now are being handled completely by virtual agents, or bots, and other automation techniques, eliminating the human element. With patience levels among millennials decreasing, the report said, automation in the form of self-service portals, which deliver near-instantaneous responses, is on the rise. Adoption of intelligent automation, powered by cognitive tools and artificial intelligence, while still at a nascent stage, will continue to increase, especially among “digitally born” providers, the report said.
Analytics will play a significant role in bridging the gap between the contact center agent and the customer, with providers investing heavily in this technology, the report said. Analytics prepare agents to handle customer queries more effectively, while reducing call volumes and improving first call resolution rates. Providers also are using analytics to capture and analyze data from social media channels to improve customer service.
“To meet customer demands and create new opportunities for engagement, enterprises are discovering they must enrich the entire customer experience journey with digital technology,” said Esteban Herrera, partner and global head of ISG Research. “They need to embrace omnichannel solutions to serve their customers at any time or in any place, on their terms, and analyze the information flowing through those channels to make the experience more personalized, predictive and seamless. And they need to employ a combination of virtual and human agents to handle everything from simple queries to resolving complex issues. Enterprises will be left behind and lose competitive advantage if they don’t embrace digital transformation.”
The ISG report also found healthcare specialization among contact center providers is increasing in response to growing demand for such services in the U.S. Acquisitions in this space – such as HGS’s acquisition of Colibrium and Alorica’s acquisition of EGS – are helping providers add industry specialists, such as nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals, and related technology to strengthen their capabilities in this vertical.
With contact centers prone to data breaches, security continues to be a top priority for enterprise buyers of contact center services, ISG noted. Providers, the report said, must continue to invest in providing holistic security options to protect customer data.
The ISG Provider Lens™ Contact Center Customer Experience Services Quadrant Report, the latest in the ISG Provider Lens™ series, evaluates 20 contact center service providers on their ability to support the entire customer experience journey, from basic service requests to higher-level engagement and personalization techniques. Eight of the 20 firms assessed in the report are regarded as market leaders by ISG: Alorica, Concentrix, Conduent, Convergys, Sitel, Sutherland, Teleperformance and TeleTech. In addition, ISG identified HGS as a rising star due to its digital-centric solutions and ISG’s belief that HGS is on the path to becoming a market leader in the next 12-18 months.
The ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant report series draws insights on service provider capabilities from focused surveys, briefings, interviews with providers, input from ISG advisors, ISG benchmarking data, and data drawn from the ISG Contracts Knowledgebase™ and ISG Engagement Database™. The series is a complement to the ISG Provider Lens™ Archetype reports, which offer a first-of-its-kind evaluation of providers from the perspective of specific buyer types.
The ISG Provider Lens™ Contact Center Customer Experience Quadrant Report was authored by ISG Principal Analyst Namratha Dharshan with input from Jan Erik Aase, director and principal analyst with ISG Research, and ISG consultants Mike McMenamin and Tony Zmudzin. An executive summary of the report is available on this webpage. A complete version of the report is available to ISG Insights™ subscribers or for immediate, one-time purchase on this webpage.
A customized version of this report will soon be available from TeleTech and posted on the company’s website.