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African SME contact centres look to cloud to enable a CX-centric future

Within Africa’s vibrant contact centre industry, the adoption of cloud-based services is on the rise as many companies across the continent shift from on-premise to hybrid and in-the-cloud models.

Over the past 24 to 36 months, 56 percent of the contact centres surveyed in Botswana, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia and South Africa for the 2018 Genesys Cloud Transformation Survey: African Small & Medium Sized Contact Centres, have already implemented some form of cloud computing.

This move towards hosted, Virtualisation and Contact-Centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS) solutions has laid the foundation for the enablement of more advanced capabilities that is set to fuel innovation in the sector and help small to medium sized (SME) contact centres leapfrog operators in more mature markets, or their larger contemporaries that are sweating their investments into legacy systems.

Based on the findings of the Genesys survey, rapidly evolving contact centre operations are demanding innovative, tailored and value-added solutions from their service providers. Operators are looking to leverage a new breed of emerging intelligent technologies that offer automation capabilities to improve efficiencies and streamline processes, and deliver meaningful and granular insights that have a tangible impact on the business.

Ranked highest among respondents on the list of future technology trends that will shape the contact centre industry is robotic process automation (RPA). African SME contact centres believe RPA will have a significant impact on their businesses within the next 12 months, with specific applications in accounting, human resources, IT and customer service.

Respondents also highlighted the need to offer more proactive and prescriptive customer services, predominantly by adopting a mobile-first approach and providing enhanced and extended self-service platforms for customers.

In this regard, a mix of new, more advanced emerging customer engagement technologies will augment existing capabilities enabled with traditional solutions such as interactive voice response (IVR), voice recording, CRM and Automatic Call Distributors (ACD).

Dominating the transformation strategies of African SME contact centre operators over the coming year will be voice recognition (55.38%), speech analytics (42.31%) and text analytics (41.54%), while over 40 percent of those surveyed plan to deploy new CRM applications.

Additional areas of focus in this regard include AI-enabled chatbots and intelligent assistants, and other smart technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and predictive personalisation and analytics tools. While just 12 percent of companies surveyed have deployed chatbots, nearly 27 percent of respondents indicated that this technology would be a key focus area for them over the next 12 months.

In addition, an even greater number of operators – approximately half – reported that they plan to expand and include select customer communication channel services over the coming year. Expect a greater focus on social media channel management solutions in the short to medium term, with the adoption of intelligent virtual agents and video chat set to become two of the most prolific focus areas within the next 12 months, with over 40 percent of contact centres surveyed planning to deploy these channels.

However, the continued evolution of the African SME contact centre operations will also take on an inward focus, with managers considering how technology can be applied to enable more compelling employee engagements and boost employee experience (EX).

This was considered to be essential by contact centre managers as a means to attract and retain the best agents. Creating a compelling EX was also seen as a strategic means to substantially improve overall CX, which is considered an important strategic differentiator in an increasingly more competitive marketplace.

Many African contact centres therefore intend to deploy EX technologies and applications on the next 12 months, such as workforce optimisation and omnichannel solutions, together with employee collaboration and performance tools.

Based on the findings of the survey, hybrid cloud technology is emerging as the preferred model for the deployment of this type of technology due to the flexibility it offers – the ability to combine public cloud, private cloud and on-premise services, which enables critical or risk intensive services to remain in-house, was cited as a leading driver.

To realise these technology-led transformation ambitions, contact centre operators will look to competent and experienced technology service providers to enable their increasingly digitised future.

Opportunities therefore abound for service providers that have the appropriate industry experience and certified staff to address these needs, and the other concerns raised in the survey around compliance, security, data protection, support and connectivity reliability.

Those providers that can deliver advanced omnichannel capabilities using flexible commercial models that can be tailored to meet the rapidly evolving technology needs of the modern African SME contact centre operation, are poised to thrive in a market sector that is predicted to double over the next five years.