Why digitisation is key to improving the customer experience for contact centres

Mark Chana
3 min readDec 9, 2020

The customer experience is at the heart of everything we do at CCI South Africa. We’re always working on ways to improve it, particularly when it comes to technology. A recently published global benchmark for contact centres backs up our strategy of digitisation and omnichannel customer service.

The 2020 NICE inContact CX Transformation benchmark demonstrates just how important digital transformation is for contact centres in providing an excellent customer experience.

More than 1,000 contact centre leaders were surveyed for the report. Its findings highlight the need for a high-level omnichannel customer service experience utilising the most advanced technology available. This includes artificial intelligence (AI), chat bots, voice bots and improved websites and social media channels.

Customers increasingly demand seamless omnichannel service
There has been a 15% rise (to 43%) in contact centres offering customers self-service channels of communication (compared with 2019). This is part of a growing trend, which has been sped up by the pandemic. Consumer demand for 24/7, seamless communications has pushed this up the agenda for contact centres.

Data from the report shows that 62% of contact centres reported higher levels of digital interaction during the pandemic. In addition, 66% of contact centre leaders say that they have plans to further accelerate the digital transformation of their customer experience. This is directly linked to the effect of the pandemic.

The figures below represent percentage increases when compared to figures from 2019. There has been:

1. An 11% increase to 49% of contact centres offering text services.

2. An 8% increase to 56% of contact centres offering mobile app comms.

3. A 6% increase to 73% in contact centres offering online chat.

4. A flat percentage of 46% of contact centres offering chat bots.

Contact centres are investing in digital channels

Contact centre leaders also say that they are increasing investment in improving the customer experience. This primarily applies across four key areas:

1. 58% say they will be improving the website.

2. 43% say they will be improving and implementing new channels.

3. 42% say they will be using new technology.

4. 35% say they will invest in improving seamless communication.

Customer preference for self-service channels is also up in 2020 compared with 2019. This increased to 43%, which is an upswing of 15%. There is a corresponding decline in demand for agent-led channels, such as phone, online chat and email. These now register at 57% in 2020, down from 72% in 2019.

Social media continues to become more popular with customers as a service channel. This applies across public platforms and private messaging apps. This year’s survey shows that 74% of contact centres are using social media to enhance customer experience. This is up from 59% in 2019. The most popular apps for customer service are:

1. WhatsApp.

2. Facebook messenger.

3. Twitter private messaging.

4. Instagram.

5. WeChat.

Chat bots are welcome as long as the tech improves

More businesses and contact centres report an increasing use of AI chat bots. Around 66% of contact centre leaders say that they use at least one channel powered by AI, up from 50% last year. And while 71% say they approve of chat bots and AI for customer service on the basis that it can resolve issues faster, 90% also say that the tech must improve.

Currently, the rate of first contact problem resolution using chat bots is 23%. When the tech improves and AI becomes smarter, customer confidence will improve, and resolution levels will increase. To this end, 40% of contact centres say that they are funding AI and automated channels in 2021, including chat bots and voice bots.

These results show us that the message for contact centres is clear. Digital transformation is essential to keep up with consumer demand and customer expectation. Contact centres must be able to offer these digital channels, in addition to traditional voice channels and a seamless omnichannel customer experience. However, it’s not about ticking boxes to cram as much tech as possible into your customer offering. Rather, the tech should be used as a jumping off point to create exceptional experiences for customers.



Mark Chana

I’m Mark Chana, Group COO of CCI Global and former Managing Director of CCI South Africa — www.markchana.com/mark-chana