Over the past ten years, contact centres have undergone a massive evolution.
The explosion of digital, coupled with changing customer expectations, is
transforming the way contact centres engage with their customers.
To remain relevant in a changing and competitive landscape, contact centres
are now shifting their focus to new service offerings – like online, Web Chat,
self-service and social channels – to connect with customers.
And this evolution is creating massive opportunities to revolutionise service
delivery in a way that not only improves customer experience, but also cuts
cost, resources and improves staff satisfaction.
But the journey is not without challenges. While many contact centres
realise the importance and opportunities that digital represents, many are
still grappling with how to transition to new channels seamlessly, whilst
maintaining a consistency of service to customers.
What’s more, the transition towards digital also requires changes in
processes, people and technology – which can be difficult to balance with
customer satisfaction improvements and efficiency gains.
Ahead of Contact Centre Week 2016, we surveyed over 50 contact centre
professionals from a cross-section of industries across Australia, in order to
uncover the major challenges, trends and opportunities for efficiency gains
and improved customer engagement in contact centre service delivery now,
and in the future.
The report examines four major trends in Australian contact centre service
The rise of digital and the emergence of a new type
of customer experience
The omni-channel nirvana: creating a consistency
of service across channels
The importance of creating the ‘super agent of the future’
The main priorities, trends and tools Australian contact centres are
focusing on in the next 12 – 18 months to improve service delivery
With over 68 per cent of survey respondents still in the early stages of
embracing digital service offerings, it is clear many Australian contact centres
are still refining and establishing the strategies needed to adapt efficiently
to changing customer expectations.
We hope you enjoy the report.
ABOUT THE RESEARCH
In order to better understand general trends in contact centre service delivery in Australia, 50 contact centre
and customer experience professionals were surveyed across the country.
Participants surveyed for this report are from over 50 different organisations across multiple sectors, in order
to provide a complete snapshot of service delivery trends from a cross-section of industries. [Figure 1]
When it comes to rolling out new digital service offerings, technology or processes, each contact centre’s
response or strategy will differ depending on its size and scope. As a result, survey participants are from
contact centres varying in FTEs, to ensure a holistic view of trends and challenges facing the industry. [Figure 2]
Results also reveal that majority of participants surveyed have a focus on dealing with inbound customer
queries in comparison to outbound sales, which reflects the growing trend of the contact centre as a hub of
customer excellence across the broader business. [Figure 3]
Size of Contact Centre
of Contact Centre
l Banking and Finance.........26.9%
l Under 30 FTE.........................38.5%
l 30 - 60 FTE..............................15.4%
l 61 - 100 FTE...........................21.2%
l 101 - 150 FTE...........................9.6%
l 151 - 300 FTE...........................3.8%
l 301+ FTE..................................11.5%
l Outbound sales.......................1.9%
l Inbound customer
SURVIVING IN THE DIGITAL ERA:
EMBRACING NEW ENGAGEMENT METHODS
TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The emergence of digital is changing the game for
contact centres, forcing organisations to adopt new ways
to reach and engage customers.
Many contact centres have been quick to respond by
rolling-out new service offerings like WebChat, Social
channels, Click to Chat and self-service.
Which is why it is no surprise that over 55 per cent of
respondents said that digital is having a huge impact on
the way their contact centre functions. [Figure 4]
It seems that contact centre professionals across Australia
are aware of the importance of adapting to the changes
bought about by digital, to ensure they succeed not only
in customer satisfaction, but also maintaining efficiency,
staff engagement and productivity.
However despite this trend, nearly 16 per cent of those
surveyed said they are currently not satisfied with their
organisation’s approach to integrating digital into their
contact centre’s operating model. [Figure 5]
What’s more, while majority of respondents have started
shifting towards towards digital service offerings, 68 per
cent believe they have a long way to go, reflecting the
trend that most contact centres in Australia are in the
early – mid stages of digital transformation. [Figure 5]
So what’s stopping contact centres from shifting
towards digital service delivery successfully?
Results reflect that a lack technology solutions,
ineffective data management and difficulty
understanding customer needs as some of the biggest
barriers stopping organisations from transitioning to
digital effectively. [Figure 6]
When asked the open ended question What areas need
to be improved in your contact centre in order to enhance
the digital experience for your customers? [Figure 6] The
most common response was based around integrating a
Customer Relationship System (CRM) to capture a holistic
view of the customer.
This demonstrates the growing emphasis contact centres
are placing on understanding customer needs, wants and
expectations in the digital landscape.
How would you describe the impact digital is having on
the way your contact centre functions?
Do you think your organisation is doing enough to
integrate digital service offerings in your contact centre?
Top areas of
focus to improve
view of the
Training and up-
skilling staff to use
to engage in
and invest in the
the cost and
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
MEETING THE DEMANDS OF THE DIGITAL
CUSTOMER AT AUSTRALIA POST
Australia Post is one organisation that knows the threat digital disruption poses all to well. In recent years, the
organisation has seen a major shift in customer behaviour – people and organisations switching from traditional
letters in the mail to digital alternatives – which has had a major impact on the financial viability of the business.
To offset these losses, Australia Post is developing its digital environment with a big focus on improving
digital services in its customer contact centre. Like the broader business, the contact centre has undergone
a massive transformation in the past 12 months, changing its culture and processes to achieve customer
centricity in the digital economy.
Brady Jacobsen, General Manager at Australia Post, says digital and changing customer behaviour is having
a massive impact on the way the contact centre is engaging with customers, and has essentially up-rooted
the traditional customer enquiry process.
In contrast, we’re seeing a huge substitution in digital channels, which is resulting in a growth of enquiries
through our website, e-mail, web chat and social channels,” he says.
In order to combat customer preference towards online channels, the contact centre has rolled-out a
number of digital self-service tools which Jacobsen says has resulted in big benefits in terms of meeting
customer expectations, as well as reducing costs.
“Moving towards online channels is giving customers what they want and it’s also providing cost-out
opportunities for us. We have found that the enquiries that remain tend to be more complex enquiries. So online
is not only changing the channel mix, but the enquiry mix for staff to handle is also changing,” he explains.
And it’s the staff transition to a new ‘digital mindset’ which Jacobsen says has been one of the biggest
challenges in driving digital capabilities across their content centre.
“A lot of people, who we have employed over the years, have had to move from being talkers, to typists. This
has become a core proficiency – every two to three months we’re turning a team of talkers into typists.
There are some people who are really effective in using typing as their primary engagement method with
customers, but there are other people who are finding it a real challenge,” he says.
Creating a holistic view of the customer
Investing in the right technology needed to support digital services has been a core element of Australia
Post’s strategy to engage customers via online channels.
Over the last 12 months the contact centre has deployed the first Customer Relationship Management
(CRM) system across its business, which Jacobsen says has been crucial in improving customer engagement
in the contact centre.
“We’re dealing with our customers very much on an anonymous basis, so we created a comprehensive CRM
which has been deployed in the last 12 months which has become a cornerstone to all digital channels.
Regardless of what channel the customer comes to use from – whether it’s via phone, a handwritten letter or a
myriad of phone, email or social – all these points of contact are now being linked to one customer record.
Brady Jacobsen will be further exploring how to embrace the digitalisation of
everything and how to adjust your contact centre, at Contact Centre Week 2016.
FIND OUT MORE HERE
It’s been a significant piece in helping us understand our customers and how they’re dealing with us
digitally,” he explains.
Rolling out self service
As customers continue to expect more of their transactions with government and business to be through
online platforms, Australia Post has responded by introducing new self service products to keep up with
changing customer demands.
MyDelivery allows customers to take control of their delivery choices, giving customers more choice over
when and where they receive parcels when they shop online.
Through the service, Australia Post allows customers to have their parcels shipped to the address of their
choice – whether it is at home, work or a 24/7 parcel Storage locker.
Jacobsen says the service is a great example of how Australia Post is adapting to digital.
But it’s also helped to reduce overall call numbers in the contact centres as customers are able to do more
for themselves – choose where they can receive their parcels, as well as track its progress.
“Customers are sharing things with us, and then we are able to share more things with our customers. The
experience for both consumers and for businesses has been great for us from a service perspective,” he explains.
The results so far
The Australia Post contact centre has realised some pretty impressive results since shifting services online,
namely increasing online customer engagement as well as staff satisfaction across the business.
“When I arrived at the business four years ago, we had around 20 million web interactions per year, and
about five million contact centre interactions.
Five years down the track, we now have around 100 million digital interactions per year and we are still at
five million contact centre interactions. This is a huge result from an engagement perspective and it speaks
for itself in terms of what the broader business benefits will be,” says Jacobsen.
And the benefits of shifting towards online have not only been for the customer. Jacobsen says offering
new online services and engagement channels for staff have improved the efficiency and culture across his
For example, employee payslips are now delivered digitally and employee engagement surveys are now
done on iPads which are located in different depots across the contact centre.
“For our staff, we’ve found there is more screen time, more engagement with technology in their day-to-
day work which has actually translated into a better understanding of the corporate strategy and a better
acceptance of digital,” says Jacobsen.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
THE OMNI CHANNEL EXPERIENCE: ENSURING A
CONSISTENCY OF SERVICE ACROSS ALL CHANNELS
It’s a fact that customer expectations are changing and the
days of simply relying on the phone or email to interact with
customers are gone. In the digital world, customers are now
looking for a service or outcome, and will interact with a
business whichever way they prefer.
As a result, organisations have been quick to roll-out new services
or channels to keep up with these changing customer demands.
The survey results reveal online as the most favourable digital
touch point currently used by contact centres to engage
customers, with self-service following closely behind, with
over 56 per cent of respondents favoring it as their top
channel of choice. [Figure 7]
It is important to note that respondents were given the option
of choosing more than one response to this question, which is
why it is not surprising that most of the channel options listed
are ranked quite high.
Despite this trend, over 43 per cent of participants said
that traditional channels (such as phone and email) are still
yielding the best engagement results. [Figure 8]
While this result may seem surprising considering the
emphasis contact centres are placing on rolling-out new
digital service offerings, there are a number of factors that
may contribute to this result:
New channels – such as self-service and Click to Chat
– are allowing customers to solve simple queries on
their own, or with limited assistance from an agent. As a
result, this allows agents to spend longer on the phone
with customers solving more complex issues. While call
times may be longer, the ability of an agent to spend
longer on solving a customer issue end-to-end creates
a better result and experience for the customer.
Most contact centres in Australia are still in the
early or mid phases of rolling out new digital
service offerings and are still working on strategies
needed to create a consistent user experience
across all channels.
Measuring the impact of digital services is hard
without the correct tools and technology in place.
Survey respondents stated that a key inhibitor to
rolling-out new channels effectively was a lack of
data or CRM system [Figure 6]. Therefore it could
be argued that with the appropriate measures, new
service offerings could have a greater impact on
It is clear a multi-channel strategy is a must to win customers,
but the magnitude of channels available is posing a new
challenge for contact centres: how to create a consistency of
service and messages to customers across all channels.
While the omni-channel experience (a focus on designing
customer experiences, not channel interactions) is set to gain
traction in the future, the survey results reveal that many
contact centres are still grappling with how to reach an ‘omni-
Over 43 per cent of respondents said that they are finding it
difficult to ensure a consistency of service across channels
[Figure 9]. However equally, over 43 per cent said they have
started rolling out the strategies on how to achieve a seamless
integration of channels more effectively.
As a result, it is clear the omni-channel trend will continue
to gain popularity in 2016, with contact centres focusing on
designing exceptional and seamless customer experience
across digital channels, removing the option for channels to
be Siloed across the business.
Which of the following are you currently using as
customer touch-points in your contact centre?
Which of the following channels are you achieving the best
results from when it comes to customer engagement?
l Traditional Channels.....43.75%
l Social Media..............................10%
Are you finding it difficult to ensure a consistency of
service to customers across multiple channels?
Yes, but we have started
rolling-out strategies on how to
achieve this more effectively
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
CREATING AN OMNI-CHANNEL
EXPERIENCE AT ING DIRECT
ING Direct is in the unique field of being a direct bank – which means that 98 per cent of customer
interactions are happening through digital channels already.
As a result, Paul Claassens, Head of Contact Centres at ING Direct says the contact centre plays a very
important role in delivering an omni-channel experience for customers across the business.
“If a customer needs to contact us, our focus is that they should be able to choose the method or how
they would like to contact us. We’re looking at enhancing our web chat options, looking at rolling-out
video chats with our customers and new ways to create seamless interactions with our customers.
Whether it’s via internet, the phone or via mobile, we want the interaction to be the same,” he says.
In order to provide a seamless experience, ING Direct is focusing its efforts on ensuring its contact
centre is working more closely with digital stakeholders to ensure digital efficiency on a broader scale.
“It has become a priority for every business to be digital first and if a customer can complete their
interaction on a digital channel, it is a lot more favourable from a whole of business perspective.
At ING, we’re working closely with the rest of the business to feed customer intelligence back into
the digital channels in order to not only enhance the digital experience, but so we can provide a first
interaction resolution for our customers,” says Claassens.
Ensuring a consistent user experience across channels
According to Claassens, ING is using a number of strategies within its contact centre and wider
business to ensure a consistent user experience across channels.
“We have a centralised quality assurance team which monitors the service delivered across all
channels. This allows us to ensure a level of consistency in regard to the service being delivered,”
But the shift towards digital and offering an omni-channel experience requires not only a change in
systems and processes, but also a new set of skills amongst staff.
Claassens says that ensuring their people have the skills required to deliver an omni-channel
experience is one of the most important success factors in delivering a consistent user experience.
“We have been investing in significant skill development and investing in the tools and resources to
ensure our people can deliver exceptional experience.
From a business perspective, we also focus on where our people are delivering and if they are not
delivering, where our gaps and weaknesses are and looking at how to address those gaps,” he explains.
Does shifting to digital channels = reduction in call times?
One of the most common beliefs associated with rolling out digital service offerings within contact
centres, is the impact it will have on call times.
Often, increase in online offerings are associated with a reduction of call times, due to the ability of
self service or digital channels to alleviate the need for customers to call agents.
However according to Claassens, this is not the case – and he says that an increase in digital offerings
actually has the opposite effect.
“There is a common belief that once you open up digital channels there is huge potential to reduce
calls. In actual fact, I think it has the potential to increase calls – because we’re making it easier for the
customers to interact with our business.
The more you create new, easy ways for customers to interact with your business, the more likely it
is that a question or concern will be raised. As a result, opening up new channels, doesn’t necessarily
decrease calls,” he says.
For ING, the challenge has been to answer customer questions at the first point of contact – whether
it’s through digital channels or via phone or email.
Claassens says the key is to be able to manage an increase in customer contact across all channels and
to ensure digital stakeholders and agents are working closely together.
“Going digital means customers have easy accessibility but it also means your contacts are going to
potentially increase. The challenge for us has been how to manage this on an ongoing basis and the
answer is that channel owners need to be working very closely together,” he says.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Paul Claassens will be further exploring how to enable a highly
engaged workforce that transforms staff culture and the key ingredients
for sustainable staff engagement, at Contact Centre Week 2016.
FIND OUT MORE HERE
CREATING THE SUPER AGENT OF THE FUTURE
The shift towards digital is not only causing a change in customer
behaviour - it is also changing the role and function of the contact
As contact centres continue to embrace digital channels, agents must
be equipped with the necessary skills to be able to interact and manage
customer relationships on these new platforms.
And while many contact centres realise the importance of up-skilling
staff to become digitally-led, it can be challenging – especially when
it comes to overcoming legacy systems or a culture built on traditional
engagement channels and processes.
As a result, many are focusing on rolling-out engagement strategies in
order to bring staff along the digital journey and create a culture that
According to the survey results, changing the culture and mind-set of staff
was ranked as the number one biggest priority for contact centres at the
moment [Figure 10], demonstrating the importance of the contact centre
agent in driving customer engagement and the move towards digital.
Interestingly, the results also reveal that aligning the contact centre
with the rest of the business is another key priority for contact centres
[Figure 10]. However, this is not too surprising given the fact that the
contact centre is now at the heart of how the broader businesses
interacts with their customers.
With a growing emphasis on customer experience, businesses are also
realising the importance of ensuring their staff are engaged and bought
into the shift towards digital.
The phrase ‘happy employees = happy customers’ is becoming a common
mentality being adopted in the contact centre environment, where agents
are playing a critical role in customer relationship management.
However, according to the survey results, there are still many challenges
facing organisations from improving staff engagement. Figure 11
reveals lack of budget and cost of training as the number one inhibitor
facing contact centres when it comes to staff engagement, followed
closely by the challenge of the contact centre not being aligned with
the rest of the business.
Therefore it seems that while up-skilling staff and improving employee
engagement is front of mind for contact centres on the road towards
digital transformation, many are still in the process of rolling–out the
necessary strategies to achieve this successfully.
Out of the following options, which
is the biggest priority for your
contact centre at the moment?
Biggest challenges when it comes
to improving staff engagement
l Changing the culture
and mindset of staff.................... 25.6%
l Up-skilling staff to work
across digital channels.............. 10.3%
l Rolling-out new
digital service offerings............ 10.3%
l Aligning the contact centre with
the rest of the business............ 20.5%
l Getting senior management
buy-in to invest in digital
service offerings........................... 15.4%
l Driving customers to online offerings
to reduce call times..................... 17.9%
l Difficult to motivate staff......... 7.69%
l Lack of budget /
cost of training.............................33.33%
l Resistance to change...............17.95%
l Contact centre is not aligned
to rest of the business.............25.64%
l Ageing Workforce.......................15.39%
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
UP-SKILLING STAFF TO BECOME DIGITAL
NATIVES AT TEACHERS MUTUAL BANK
Teachers Mutual Bank is one organisation who is shifting towards digital to remain relevant to their
customers. Over the past few years, they have rolled-out new services such as Web Chat and Click to Chat
to make it easier for customers to engage with their business.
And in terms of customer satisfaction, it seems the shift to new digital offerings is working: Teachers Mutual
Bank currently has a customer satisfaction rating around the 90 percent mark, with an NPS score between
62 – 65.
According to Tim Powell, National Contact Centre Manager at Teachers Mutual Bank, keeping customers
front of mind throughout the journey has been critical to achieving such results.
“We always seek feedback from our members to find out what they want and need from us, especially in
terms of a self-service environment.
When members are interacting with us for simple enquiries which potentially could have been offered or
delivered a lot quicker via self-service, we ask them if they are aware of the self-service options and how
likely they would be to use them. If they are interested, we sign them up to the self-service channel to
ensure that they can avoid having to call us again in the future for simple matters. We are finding promoting
new channels on a needs basis is working well for our business,” he says.
Another important element of Teachers Mutual Bank strategy to improve service delivery has been a re-haul
of their recruitment and training strategy.
“We are currently in the process of developing a new recruitment strategy for our contact centre. I would
like to see the contact centre become the recruitment hub for new hires across the business,” Powell
As part of this process, Powell and his team are re-evaluating the traditional contact centre agent role and
focusing on hiring more digitally savvy people.
“We are hiring more digitally savvy people who are also comfortable in working in social channels such
as Facebook and Twitter. This has been a journey we have been on over the past 18 months and there has
been a big shift in the way we are training and recruiting.
Typically we have a six to eight week training program for new hires, which is too long. If we want our
contact centre to be responsive, we have to get our agents handling interactions quicker by moving them to
the non-voice channels.
Bringing in new hires into channels such as email, Facebook and Secure Messaging, means the agent has
time to learn on the job as there is less need to respond as quickly as would be needed in a voice or chat
interaction. This allows agents to transition into voice a lot easier,” he says.
Tim Powell will be further exploring how to scale your contact centre at the
speed of change at Contact Centre Week 2016.
FIND OUT MORE HERE
FUTURE OUTLOOK: WHERE TO FROM HERE?
It’s a tough call to provide an outlook on what the future may look like for the contact centre industry, considering
technology and customer expectations are advancing at such a rapid rate.
But despite the acceleration of change, one thing remains certain: customer experience will continue to dominate
contact centre service delivery in the future.
Interestingly, when asked whether or not virtual agents will have a place in contact centres in the future, 50 per
cent of respondents said possibly, and over 42 per cent said most definitely [Figure 12].
While virtual assistants are yet to take off in Australia, it is clear they will have a role in contact centre service
delivery in the years to come.
When asked to share the core areas organisations will be focusing on in the next six to 12 months to improve
contact centre delivery, the responses were varied. [Figure 13]
Most respondents pointed to measuring customer satisfaction, self-service and creating a holistic view of the
customer as key priorities in the coming months.
When asked to share the types of tools or new technologies contact centres will be investing in over the next six
to 12 months, the most popular responses were workforce management, CRM systems and self-service [Figure 14].
However the varied responses also reflect the fact that contact centres are looking in all areas of their business –
people, processes and platforms – to improve service delivery in the future.
Key priorities to improve service delivery in the next six to 12 months
î Integrating a CRM system
î Reducing workload with
î Resourcing and budgeting
î Consolidating systems so all
channels can be given correct
î Up-skilling and cultural
î Prioritising digital
î Training and development
î Online Apps
î Measuring customer satisfaction
and impact of new offerings
î Sales performance – making the
most of every call
î Single view of the customer
î Breaking down silos
î Increase call rate and online
AREAS OF TECH
INVESTMENT OVER THE
NEXT SIX TO 12 MONTHS
Do virtual agents have a
place in your contact centre
in the future?
Overall, the survey results reveal rolling-out digital channels to improve
customer experience and engagement is a key priority for Australian
contact centres now and in the future.
To achieve this, many contact centres are focusing on capturing a holistic
view of their customers and up-skilling employees on their endeavour
towards creating an omni-channel experience.
To thrive in the future, contact centres will need to adapt to the pace
of change and improve agility. Effective leadership that recognises the
potential of digital transformation, and aligning the contact centre to the
broader business will be key to ensure contact centres remain relevant in
the digital landscape.
Overall, the contact centre of the future will be at the heart of how
companies interact with customers, and a key player in how businesses
manage and maintain their relationships with customers.
Interested in learning more about the strategies needed
to transform customer experience in your contact centre?
Join brands like ING Direct, Australia Post, Teachers Mutual Bank, VISA, Qantas
and more at Contact Centre Week 2016 – Australia’s leading conference
in contact centre customer service transformation.
Contact Centre Week 2016 is an extension of the number one
customer care event in the world and is coming to Australian shores
for the first time to showcase practical case studies and action strategies
for enhancing customer and employee engagement and driving business results.
For more information visit www.contactcentreweek.com.au
or call + 61 2 9229 1000 or email email@example.com