African contact centres look to cloud for omnichannel capabilities

Kevin Le Roux, Head of Business Development at Pivotal Data

Africa boasts a vibrant and growing contact centre industry that spans multiple vertical markets and facilitates a broad range of business process services (BPS) that include inbound and outbound call management, customer service support and toll-free support. Other prominent BPS activities offered on the continent include mobile app support, sales services, finance and accounting services, and debt collections.

However, the relative importance of the contact centre in the modern enterprise, given its role as a business enablement platform, or a first-line engagement channel (known as first call resolution) between organisations and their customers. African operations are under immense pressure to transform their capabilities from traditional, voice-only call centre services to fully integrated and digitised customer lifecycle management (CLM) processes.

According to the 2018 Genesys Cloud Transformation Survey: African Small & Medium Sized Contact Centres, over 90% of contact centres surveyed in Botswana, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia and South Africa have already adopted multi-channel solutions to meet shifting market dynamics.

These operations combine voice services and email communications with other channels such as fax, SMS, social media, mobile apps and Interactive Voice Response (IVR). In addition, many organisations that operate in the sub-Saharan region intend to deploy new technologies such as web chat and intelligent automated agents or chat bots in the next 12 months.

Of interest is that most of these applications and channels are managed within silos, as standalone technologies, with only a few of the survey respondents indicating that they have integrated them within one solution platform.

Unfortunately, under the influence of powerful shifts in customer demands and engagement preferences, which are increasingly influenced by digitisation, this siloed approach leads to channel fragmentation and a disjointed customer experience (CX).

Customers today want to have the option to call and speak to an agent, yet also expect to be able to interact with the contact centre via various digital touch points, regardless of the device or platform they’re using, without losing context or relevance.

Accordingly, CX has become a prolific business differentiator in today’s on-demand digital economy. If customers don’t experience the type of engagement and service they expect, they will gravitate to other service providers that satisfy their needs and requirements, resulting in missed opportunities and lost revenue for contact centre operations.

It is therefore critical that African contact centres are able to deliver seamless, consistent and personalised customer interactions across all channels and throughout the customer lifecycle to remain competitive. This has become a strategic imperative not only within the African context, but also in terms of attracting more business from the growing global outsourcing market.

To achieve this strategic objection, the inclination for African contact centres to migrate to the cloud with hosted, virtual and Contact-Centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS) solutions is growing. Over the past 2 to 3 years, 56% of the contact centres interviewed in Africa for the Genesys survey have already adopted some form of cloud computing, and cloud service adoption in Africa is forecast to grow by over 41% over the next four years, according to research by Knowledge Executive.

The major types of cloud-based technologies already adopted include customer relationship management (CRM), voice recording and hosted voice over-IP (VoIP) phone systems. Those that have not moved into the cloud (44%) indicated that the major barriers to adoption they face include security, risk and compliance.

Importantly, once a contact centre leverages a cloud-based solution, the seamless integration of other communications services becomes possible, which ultimately offers the multi-modality, orchestration and CLM capabilities that deliver exceptional CX.

In this regard, the 2018 Genesys Cloud Transformation Survey confirms that the African cloud-based contact centre industry is growing and maturing, with more companies across the continent shifting from on-premise to hybrid and full cloud-provisioned models.

At present, hybrid cloud technology is the preferred model for the deployment of this technology in Africa. This is largely attributed to the flexibility that the model offers, as it combines public and private cloud capabilities and on-premise services, which allows specific critical or risk-intensive services to remain in-house.

Most African operations surveyed also prefer the pay-as-you-go commercial model offered by cloud computing for the delivery of contact centre applications and technology, reveals the survey. Other contact centres prefer per-user or agent, per hour and licensed commercial models.

This signals that the appetite is growing for many contact centres in Africa to evolve into as-a-service contracts. Opportunities therefore abound on the continent for cloud technology providers that can offer flexible and stackable finance options, in addition to the appropriate technological solution and the industry experience and certified staff needed to implement and enable true omnichannel contact centre capabilities.