Budgets are stagnating. Support volume is increasing. The complexity of support transactions is up. And, curiously, customers are happier. Does something have to give in this equation? Yes – support is taking longer than it used to, compared with last year's survey. The centerpiece of the SupportIndustry.com 2010 Service and Support Metrics Survey, our review of support metrics, shows a clear trend that productivity metrics are beginning to slow down under the weight of cost and resource burdens. Here is what the data are telling us:
Average speed to answer for phone-based support: 43% answer within 30 seconds or less, but 22.5% take a minute or more. By comparison, only 3.2% required a minute or greater in 2009.
Average hold time: Exactly half of the survey respondents can boast hold times of a minute or less, with 20.5% having no hold time at all. In 2009, however, nearly three-quarters of respondents required less than a minute on hold.
Average abandonment rate: 60.7% of respondents had an abandonment rate of less than 5%, with 22.5% experiencing a rate of less than 1%. At the other end of the spectrum, approximately 9% of respondents had abandonment rates of over 10%, including a couple of outliers over 15%. This statistic was not measured in 2009.
Average number of e-mails exchanged to resolve a support request: 59.8% of respondents handle e-mail support requests within 1 to 3 e-mails, while most of the remainder (21.5%) resolve an average request within 4 to 6 e-mails. These numbers are comparable with 2009 statistics.
Escalation: Nearly one-third of people (30.3%) escalate less than 10% of their transactions to level 2, while at the other end of the spectrum, 7.8% escalate more than half of their issues. Remaining responses were fairly well distributed between these two extremes.
Cost of support transactions: Phone support remains the most expensive option, with e-mail and chat/instant message support following in order. Slightly more than half of respondents reported costs ranging up to $24 for phone transactions, with 30.3% holding costs to under $10 a transaction. For e-mail, 45% reported costs under $10 per transaction, while for chat/IM 45% reported costs under $5 per transaction. At the other end of the spectrum, the percentage of respondents reporting average costs above $24/transaction were 25.4%, 17.6%, and 4.8% for phone, e-mail, and chat/IM respectively. Factoring in non-responders, these results were very similar to those of 2009.
Holding these numbers up against customer satisfaction levels, which are generally increasing, the trend seems to be that customers feel good support is worth waiting for – as long as it isn't a long wait. So while the difference between, say, waiting on hold for one minute versus one minute and 20 seconds may not be significant, trends towards the ends of the spectrum are likely to need attention or intervention to keep customers happy.
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