Web chat and speech analytics are the two contact center technologies that will experience the highest growth rates this year, according to the fifth edition of The US Contact Center Decision-Makers' Guide, a study of more than 200 U.S. contact center operations that encompasses all areas of contact center performance, investment, technology, human resources and strategy.
Contact Babel, the analyst firm that produced the report, forecasts Web chat implementations will increase by 60 percent in 2012, while speech analytics will grow 59 percent.
Web chat now accounts for just over 2 percent of all inbound customer interactions, said Contact Babel analyst Steve Morrell, but it offers benefits for both customers and companies using it. For customers, Web chat satisfies a desire for immediacy that email cannot provide. And Web chat can save companies money, because agents can serve multiple customers during concurrent chat sessions.
Web chat is currently most prevalent in the entertainment and leisure sectors, Morrell said, but Contact Babel expects to see increased adoption by the retail industry, which can use chat to close more deals online and lower customer support costs.
Speech analytics, which is often employed to help companies comply with regulatory requirements, "can also greatly assist cost reduction, agent improvement and business process optimization," Morrell said. Contact Babel is increasingly seeing channels such as email, Web chat and social media being included when analyzing customer and agent interactions, he added.
Call recording, used by 80 percent of survey respondents, is currently the most prevalent contact center technology, the report found. However, 18 percent of users say they are actively looking to upgrade or replace those systems. Other technologies that seem ripe for replacement are workforce management and management information systems. Twenty-two percent of respondents and 21 percent, respectively, are planning to make changes in those areas.
The 300-page report, which was sponsored by Enghouse Interactive, Interactive Intelligence, SHL, Vocalcom and Zeacom, can be downloaded at no charge by registering at Contact Babel's website.