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UK contact centres close to breaking point according to new global survey

UK contact centres are struggling to deliver much-needed CX innovation while battling against rising contact volumes, agent attrition and customer churn, according to a new survey of 1000 contact centre leaders in the US, UK and Australia from Censuswide. The research, commissioned by end-to-end contact centre testing specialist Hammer, has revealed an alarmingly consistent picture of contact centres close to breaking point.

With chat volumes on the rise for 64% of UK contact centres and call volumes on the rise for 60%, almost as many, 59% agreed that contact volumes are spiraling beyond their capacity to handle them. Agent attrition is on the increase for 65% whilst 68% reported escalating customer churn. In addition, 61% of call centre leaders say the frequency of outages has increased over the last 12 months.

Call wait times and abandoned calls are also on the increase, leading to rising levels of customer frustration, which in turn is affecting employee welfare; 67% of UK contact centre leaders reported that dealing with frustrated customers has impacted the mental health of frontline customer service employees in the last 12 months.

The survey suggests the industry is turning to technology in an attempt to avert a complete breakdown in customer service, with 99% of UK contact centre leaders planning to upgrade technology in the next 12-24 months. The top five areas identified for upgrades are outbound telephony systems (13%), chatbots (12%), email (12%), conversational AI (12%) and web chat (11%).

However, worryingly, 86% of UK contact centre leaders in our survey say they cannot deliver software upgrades quickly enough to meet the demands of the business; 85% are not able to properly test these upgrades and improvement projects before they go live, 85% do not have enough resources in their developer team and 83% say their dev ops is simply not agile enough.

John D’Anna, CEO of Hammer comments: “While it’s encouraging to see so many contact centres willing to invest in new technology, the figures relating to the lack of proper testing, are concerning and highlight the imminent disasters waiting to happen. Without end-to-end testing, improvement projects will fail to deliver the anticipated improvement and much-needed ROI. 

“We’ve been seeing increasing customer dissatisfaction right across the industry during recent years. And, with hybrid working becoming the norm, delivering positive customer experiences could be all the more be challenging, causing yet more tension between contact centres and the businesses they serve.

if we don’t get new technology right, there is a very real risk that customer frustration will continue to spiral with alarming consequences for agents’ mental health.  Technology is supposed to empower agents, but organisations who rush into it, without proper planning and testing, risk doing the opposite.”