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NICE's Research Shows Contact Centers to Put Customers and Efficiency First

October 19, 2009

NICE Systems, a provider of advanced solutions for companies to capture, storage, retrieval and analysis of customer interactions for contact centers and enterprises, announced the results of its first annual benchmark of contact center business and technology trends. 

Focusing on growth expectations, technology investment priorities, operational tactics and strategies and market trends and initiatives in the contact center industry, the research titled, “Preparing for the Upturn: Research on Contact Center Operational and Investment Practices,” was commissions by NICE and conducted by Ventana Research, an independent research firm. 

Aiming to assist contact center professionals and organizations in measuring up their own professional strategies, the research – conducted by a group of 370 respondents in the contact center industry – resulted in some key findings. 

Charles Born, corporate vice president of marketing at NICE Systems (News - Alert), said that the launch of NICE’s first annual benchmark of the contact center market found interesting results. 

The research showed that the top operational priorities are in tune with the current economic recession in that reducing operational costs while focusing on increasing customer satisfaction continues to be a focal point in daily duties. 

“Although businesses are paying attention to costs, they are being careful to ensure that customer satisfaction does not suffer,” Born said. “Forward thinking companies are positioning themselves for quick performance improvements by planning investments in technologies that help promote customer satisfaction, including speech analytics, better utilization of cross-channel information, and smart-agent desktops.”

For financial services companies, regulatory compliance was simultaneously focused on along with customer satisfaction. NICE’s Perform Compliance Suite, financial institutions in the contact center industry can assess their exposed risks to financial activities as a way to maintain regulatory compliance.

Additionally, NICE’s survey reported that 44 percent of survey responded said that they expect an increase in both phone and alternative communication channels – such as SMS messaging and Web self-service, as a way to drive results. 

With the economic turmoil having such a hold on user activity – or lack thereof – the financial industries assessment of maintenance allows for a more proactive customer base, allowing individuals to receive information about finances, voice personal financial concerns and take the necessary steps to set a comfortable standard in current times. 

Ranking high among the survey was workforce optimization and performance management systems, outpacing expected growth in CRM investments, with agents focusing on selling, securing those invaluable customer relationships and allowing for a more productive operational track within contact centers. 

Mark Smith, CEO of Ventana Research, said that the importance of contact center interactions across multiple communication channels continues to be at the center of business strategies to optimize operational outcomes from customer relationships. 

Growing significantly was the focus on speech analytics deployments, with survey respondents foreseeing speech deployments growing by 182 percent by 2011 from the first half 2009. 

In addition to the speech deployment growth prediction was the VoIP-based systems, with an expected growth of 50 percent by 2010, according to survey respondents, solidifying the fact that VoIP helps reduce operating costs, with 70 percent of respondents indicating that they plan to have more than half of their infrastructure VoIP-based by 2010. 

Furthermore, large multi-site enterprises are centralizing their contact center operations, made possible by advancements in VoIP-enabled solutions and, as a result, are prioritizing investment in VoIP, NICE officials said. 

Lastly, 81 percent of respondents expect staffing levels to remain steady or increase slightly, with 37 percent anticipating an increase of home-based agents, as the economic recession levels out and the increase of work-at-home agents for both operational and financial reasons continues to increase. 

“Though the global economic climate has created challenges for contact centers, the need to operate more efficiently and ensure the optimal customer experience continues to be a top priority as it is directly linked to customer profitability,” Smith said.

Kelly McGuire is a TMCnet Editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire
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