What Service Providers Need to Know

February 15, 2024

When asked, “Do you have a contact center?” many organizations may be tempted to answer no, as they don’t have a room full of agents wearing headsets answering customer service calls. The truth is, most businesses today have one or more “informal” contact centers – whether they realize it or not.


Most Service Providers (SPs) are adept at selling contact center solutions to traditional or formal contact centers, but there’s an even greater opportunity to sell tools and technologies for the growing number of informal contact centers. Organizations with informal contact centers have many of the same needs and requirements as for their formal contact centers, but on a smaller scale, and at a much lower price point. To be successful in this market, it’s important to understand what an informal contact center is, some of the challenges that need to be overcome, and what capabilities informal contact centers need in order to support both customers and agents.


Informal vs Formal Contact Centers


We’re all familiar with formal contact centers, consisting of groups of agents wearing headsets and dedicated to high-volume customer interactions. When we call an 800 number to make an airline reservation, when the cable TV service isn’t working, or when ordering flowers on Mother’s Day, we know we’re reaching a formal contact center. Companies spend hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars for sophisticated ACDs (Automatic Call Distribution) or cloudbased contact CCaaS platforms, as well as recording, reporting, workforce management, and other technologies to support customer interactions.


“Informal contact centers,” also called “casual contact centers,” are different, and not easy to define – they can be small but structured organizations, like an internal help desk, or an unstructured group of workers, such as sales, service, or technical support personnel that handle multiple incoming service requests but don’t operate like a formal contact center. Rather than routing calls through an ACD to the next-available agent, calls are routed to groups of employees with the right expertise (often using hunt groups) and are answered on a best-effort basis.


Market Opportunity


The size of the informal contact center market is difficult to estimate precisely, as there is no single definition of what constitutes an informal contact center. Based on various industry reports and surveys, the market opportunity is estimated to be worth billions of dollars.


For example, CX Today found that over half of all customer-facing teams in businesses with 50 or more employees can be classified as informal contact centers. Whatever the actual size of the market, there’s a large untapped market opportunity for service providers.


Customer Experience for Everyone


Customer engagement and customer experience have become the key differentiators for most organizations today. Customers expect – and demand – knowledgeable, courteous real-time assistance, and don’t care if they’re interacting with a 500-person contact center or a 5-person support desk.


Employees need to be empowered to be able act in real-time to ensure appropriate staffing levels or easily recapture any lost opportunities when they occur. Car dealers can’t afford to miss calls, as each call may be worth tens of thousands of dollars and need to be answered in a timely manner. Hospitals and health care providers need to optimize staffing for handling inbound calls in order to meet regulatory requirements and ensure patient safety. Franchise operations deal with volume fluctuations and need the right staffing to avoid missed calls – and missed revenue.


Functionality – The Need for Customer Experience Analytics


Informal contact centers need basic tools to help manage workers and workloads, including:


  • Customer engagement insights and reporting
  • Proactive customer engagement service level notification
  • Simple, easy to digest historical and real-time reporting
  • Workforce management to ensure optimum performance
  • Regulatory/industry/business KPI reporting



Whether or not there is some sort of central management control watching over the engagement workers, it’s still important to have a view into the activities and performance of these workers. Analytics and call reporting tools are just as essential for engagement workers as they are for formal contact center agents. Businesses need to monitor their customer engagement performance and take action when needed.



Customer engagement analytics are a critical component of delivering exceptional customer service and play an important role in helping informal contact centers identify key insights to help improve performance and better serve customers. Visibility into call activity lets businesses identify missed opportunities and areas for improvement. For example, when organizations detect missed calls, they have the opportunity to recapture lost callers and potential sales opportunities. Customer engagement analytics tools also help ensure SLA compliance.


Opportunity for Service Providers


Service providers can best address the informal contact center space by offering solutions that are flexible, scalable, and affordable, providing real-time insights. They also need to have an understanding of the needs of informal contact center customers, which are often different from the needs of traditional contact center customers. To serve this market, service providers need to provide:


  • Basic call routing to ensure that calls are directed to the right agent or team is essential. This can be done through hunt groups, commonly included in the standard telephony offer, and avoid the need for a sophisticated routing engine.
  • Reporting and analytics tools to provide visibility of call traffic and user activity, and to track key performance metrics, such as call volume, response time, and customer satisfaction.
  • Real-time insights and agent and supervisor client dashboards to provide visibility into statistics and activity.
  • Workforce management tools for scheduling, staffing, etc.


By offering solutions that are flexible, scalable, affordable, and easy to use, service providers can position themselves to capitalize on the growing informal contact center market.




Most organizations, regardless of size, have workers who frequently interact with customers, requiring the right tools to be more effective and provide better service. While organizations with informal contact centers need some of the same functionality as larger, formal contact centers, they do not want to incur the same expense or heavy lift. Customer engagement analytics tools aimed at informal contact centers help to increase productivity, meet industry or business service level agreements (SLAs), optimize resources, and improve overall engagement worker productivity.


Selling these tools beyond the formal contact center to the multitude of informal contact centers and customer engagement workers expands the market opportunity for service providers, leading to increased sales and revenues, as well as customer loyalty.


It’s time to look beyond the contact center to new opportunities.


By Blair Pleasant
President & Principal Analyst, COMMfusion


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