By Shaun van Rooyen, Strategic Accounts and Partnerships Manager for Infobip Africa
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that is pushing businesses to rapidly reinvent the way they operate is an additional driving force for the uptake of Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) in South Africa, putting the future of the traditional contact centre model under considerable pressure.
As most countries around the world have put in place lockdowns and restrictions that curb movement, work and human-to-human contact, organisations are being forced to adopt work from home policies that see employees engaging and communicating with customers remotely.
Most major industries across the globe have been profoundly affected by the pandemic, including the financial services and insurance sectors, where organisations typically operate large contact centres to offer support services to their customers.
In South Africa, as well as in many other parts of the world, government-ordered lockdowns have confined people to their homes, with companies hastily deploying strategies to continue operating with remote workforces. This means that contact centre operators are having to scale down and put systems and technology in place that allows them to still communicate with customers via homebound agents.
CCaaS is critical to this new way of doing business, being a cloud-based customer experience solution that allows companies to utilise a contact centre provider’s software and access to hosted, virtual contact centre apps and features.
However, while the COVID-19 pandemic will likely accelerate the adoption of CCaaS, it must be noted that many large South African enterprises have shown a robust interest in adopting the solution in the first three months of this year – before the outbreak of the coronavirus on our shores.
Local contact centres have already been moving to the cloud, with technologies such as chatbots, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation changing the face of the contact centre, in line with changing customer demands.
Specifically, modern customers have been wanting to move away from traditional talk functionality and demanding the ability to chat with contact centre agents via platforms such as live chat, SMS, email and WhatsApp – channels they are already using.
By giving customers multiple opportunities to engage with an agent, it releases a lot of the call volume coming into the call centre and improves customer experience by easing the frustration of contact centre queues.
Another clear advantage of CCaaS is the analytics and reporting capabilities that it offers to contact centres operators, which allows for the monitoring of agent performance, and the generation of reports based on conversations that can be leveraged to form FAQs and help better define the services required by customers.
Also, CCaaS gives organisations the ability to introduce chatbots and automation to their environment, which is essential as contact centres are now staffed by fewer agents, working remotely. By automating repetitive tasks and handing off basic queries and FAQs to chatbots, agents have more capacity to handle more complex issues.
Agents will only have to handle the queries that bots cannot, so they will essentially be dealing with lower call volumes. This lowers the operating costs of a contact centre, as smaller teams of agents will be needed.
From a business perspective, CCaaS is becoming the preferred solution for contact centre operators in South Africa, as it offers scalability as and when the operational needs of an enterprise change and provides several advantages over traditional on-premise contact centres.
The solution allows organisations to utilise a contact centre provider’s software, with the flexibility to only pay for the technology that is needed. This means that upfront investment is low, and costs are significantly reduced.
South Africa’s contact centre sector is mature and complex and is increasingly shifting away from an outsourcing focus to a customer experience focus. Hence, the uptake of CCaaS is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future.