U.S. Contact Centers Hiring Remote Agents, Enhancing Workforce Management as Pandemic Disrupts Industry

ISG Provider Lens™ report shows providers facing work-from-home challenges while COVID-19 changes consumer behavior and drives cloud contact center adoption


STAMFORD, Conn., Oct. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Amid major disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. contact center industry is turning its attention to hiring remote agents, curbing increased attrition and better managing workforces, according to a new report published today by Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

The 2020 ISG Provider LensContact Center – Customer Experience Services report for the U.S. finds providers are placing more importance on employees’ health and investing in new technologies to train, monitor and motivate workers, including automated coaching, real-time performance dashboards and gamification. 

“The transition to remote work is requiring big adjustments for agents and supervisors alike,” said Jan Erik Aase, director and global leader, ISG Provider Lens Research. “Workforces that were used to being under one roof and getting feedback in person are struggling with the loss of face-to-face interaction. This is likely to cause higher attrition, lower customer satisfaction or both.”

While dealing with this unexpected disruption, the U.S. contact center industry also is increasingly turning to Latin America for outsourcing opportunities, the report says. Expanding English proficiency in these countries, as well as a growing Spanish-speaking population in the U.S., have generated growing interest in the region. Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica are among the stars in attracting outsourcing projects, ISG says.

These trends are emerging against the backdrop of dramatic, global changes in consumer behavior triggered by COVID-19. Call volumes have soared in some industries, such as travel and insurance, and fallen in others, such as retail. In some cases, call wait times have increased exponentially and bandwidth issues in the home environment have led to disconnections and customer frustration.

These issues have led consumers of all ages to turn toward digital channels such as social media and asynchronous messaging, with some software vendors reporting a 300 percent increase in the use of these channels versus traditional voice. Though triggered by the pandemic, these changes are likely to be irreversible, the report says. Faced with this rapid shift, companies have accelerated their adoption of omnichannel strategies to provide the best, most personalized customer experience in a bid to retain brand loyalty.

The pandemic has also heightened interest in cloud contact centers, which have become a priority even for legacy-heavy companies. Providers that have already adopted cloud platforms were able to quickly shift to work-from-home with minimal disruptions, the report says. Cloud data center solutions embedded with technologies such as analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning can make it easier to provide more personalized, omnichannel experiences. Companies that use technology to deliver a better customer experience will be able to differentiate themselves in this space, ISG says.

The move toward remote work has increased the use of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arrangements, which in turn has raised new security concerns. Companies are adopting several new technologies to strengthen work-from-home security, including facial recognition, voice biometrics, screen monitoring and robust use of VPNs, ISG says. AI is expected to play a growing role in enhancing remote security.

In addition, the pandemic has led to a sharp spike in the use of automation, which is becoming a necessity, according to the report. When agents were being shifted to the new remote work model, many companies turned to AI or chatbots to handle basic queries, and this gave them a great advantage. Most call centers now are looking to scale up their automation capabilities, ISG says.

The 2020 ISG Provider LensContact Center – Customer Experience Services report for the U.S. evaluates the capabilities of 21 providers across a single quadrant: Digital Operations.

The report names nine providers as leaders: Alorica, Concentrix, Conduent, HGS, Sitel Group, Sutherland, Teleperformance, TTEC and Wipro. Hexaware and Tech Mahindra were named Rising Stars—companies with a “promising portfolio” and “high future potential,” by ISG’s definition.

A customized version of the report is available from Hexaware.

The 2020 ISG Provider LensContact Center – Customer Experience Services report for the U.S. is available to subscribers or for one-time purchase on this webpage.

About ISG Provider Lens™ Research

The ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant research series is the only service provider evaluation of its kind to combine empirical, data-driven research and market analysis with the real-world experience and observations of ISG's global advisory team. Enterprises will find a wealth of detailed data and market analysis to help guide their selection of appropriate sourcing partners, while ISG advisors use the reports to validate their own market knowledge and make recommendations to ISG's enterprise clients. The research currently covers providers offering their services globally, across Europe and Latin America, as well as in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., France, the Nordics, Brazil and Australia/New Zealand, with additional markets to be added in the future. For more information about ISG Provider Lens research, please visit this webpage.

A companion research series, the ISG Provider Lens Archetype reports, offers a first-of-its-kind evaluation of providers from the perspective of specific buyer types.

Starting this year, each ISG Provider Lens™ study will include a Global Summary to help enterprise subscribers better understand provider capabilities across all geographic markets covered by that study. All ISG Provider Lens™ reports also will now include an Enterprise Context feature to help executives quickly identify key insights related to their roles and responsibilities.

About ISG

ISG (Information Services Group) (Nasdaq: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. A trusted business partner to more than 700 clients, including more than 75 of the world’s top 100 enterprises, ISG is committed to helping corporations, public sector organizations, and service and technology providers achieve operational excellence and faster growth. The firm specializes in digital transformation services, including automation, cloud and data analytics; sourcing advisory; managed governance and risk services; network carrier services; strategy and operations design; change management; market intelligence and technology research and analysis. Founded in 2006, and based in Stamford, Conn., ISG employs more than 1,300 digital-ready professionals operating in more than 20 countries—a global team known for its innovative thinking, market influence, deep industry and technology expertise, and world-class research and analytical capabilities based on the industry’s most comprehensive marketplace data. For more information, visit www.isg-one.com.

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