Consumers' Love/Hate Relationship with Contact Centers
ForeSee released its February Contact Center Benchmark, which allows companies to determine how the contact center experience they provide compares to industry averages and customer expectations.
Nearly 11,000 customers expressed their opinions about contact centers to ForeSee in the month of February. ForeSee’s satisfaction benchmark for contact centers is at 70 on the company’s 100-point scale. This is an average score that contact centers can use as a yardstick against which to measure their own performance. Companies scoring significantly higher than 70 are outperforming the industry average. Companies scoring significantly below 70 have a lot of work to do, because their customers’ satisfaction has a direct impact on future actions, such as the likelihood to purchase from the company in the future.
Scores for individual companies included in the benchmark range from a low of 53 to a high of 86 – a fairly large range that has implications for the future of their customer relationships. Some companies are well-loved for the contact center experiences they provide, while others are strongly disliked. One clue to the disparity in satisfaction comes in the primary objective of the call center. When ForeSee isolated scores for service-focused call centers only, there was a benchmark of 67. This comes as no surprise since customers contacting a service-oriented center are likely calling with a problem and may already be frustrated.
As part of its benchmark research, ForeSee compared the likely future behaviors of highly-satisfied customers with a satisfaction score of 80 or higher on ForeSee’s 100-point scale to those of less-satisfied customers (with satisfaction below 70). This comparison demonstrates the impact customer satisfaction with contact center experiences can have on a company’s future success. Based on likelihood scores, highly satisfied customers report being:
174% more likely than less satisfied customers to make contact again, which means higher frequency of interaction, improved engagement, and increased share of mind and wallet.
154% more likely to purchase next time, which means increased sales.
238% more likely to recommend the company to a friend, family member or colleague, which means more business and increased loyalty.
Software and PCs will Lead the Way in Record-Breaking Year for U.S. Small and Midsize Business IT Spending
Spending on information technology by the 8 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the United States will account for approximately one-quarter of overall global SMB IT spending and more than 10% of all IT spending worldwide in 2012. Although U.S. SMB IT spending has more than made up the ground lost during the especially weak years of 2008 and 2009 – and is expected to exceed $138 billion in 2012 -- future levels of investment and spending growth will not be uniform across technology categories. A new study from International Data Corporation (IDC) explores the size and growth of the five major technology sectors in the small (<100 employees) and midsize (100-999) segments – and the critical differences in IT investment between SMBs and large businesses (1000+).
Key findings of this study include the following:
The small business segment will spend nearly twice as much as the midsize segment – and more than the entire large enterprise segment – on PCs and peripherals in 2012. The client business is expected to be particularly strong, as small and midsize businesses look to invest in a variety of PC form factors, with particularly high levels of interest in notebooks and media tablets.
Small and midsize businesses will spend nearly $50 billion on packaged software in 2012, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. SMB IT spending; this category will also have the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) throughout the forecast period (6.0%).
More than one-quarter of total SMB IT spending in 2012 will be allocated to IT services, totaling more than $38 billion. While this level of spending is significant, it also represents a critical departure from the conventions of the large enterprise segment, where IT services account for nearly half of all IT spending. In keeping with the growing importance of IT services as company size increases, the midsize business market for IT services will be more than triple the size of that for small firms throughout the forecast period.
Systems and storage will continue to be the slowest-growing IT category in the SMB space. While small and midsize business interest in servers and storage is expected to remain strong, the appeal of virtualization is expected to slow the growth of the server installed base, particularly in the midsize segment.
The networking equipment category will account for the smallest share of total SMB IT spending throughout the forecast period. This represents another key difference between the SMB and enterprise segments — while large businesses continue to make significant investments in next-generation datacenters and networking infrastructure, more than one-third of SMBs have not yet deployed networks. Despite increasing interest in networking and network-enabled technologies such as software as a service, cloud resources, and unified communications, SMB spending will remain relatively modest throughout the forecast period.
Worldwide IT Spending Figures Show Mixed Results for 2012
Worldwide IT spending is forecast to total $3.7 trillion in 2012, a 2.5 percent increase from 2011, according to the latest outlook by Gartner, Inc. This is down from Gartner's previous forecast of 3.7 percent growth for 2012.
Gartner analysts said the lower growth rate has more to do with the U.S. currency than an actual decline in spending. The recent strengthening in the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies has resulted in the reduced growth rate. However, when looking at spending in constant U.S. dollars, Gartner analysts said IT spending is on pace to increase 5.2 percent in 2012, up from its previous projection of 4.6 percent.
Gartner analysts said IT spending in the government sector is expected to contract moderately on a global basis in 2012 and 2013, driven by austerity measures in the eurozone. While there has been much commentary about the need for government cuts since the sovereign debt crisis emerged in Europe, it is only now that the impact of government budget cutbacks is being felt on IT spending in the region. Similarly, we expect U.S. government spending to be essentially flat in 2012 before contracting in 2013.
In the small and midsize business market, which represents approximately a quarter of all enterprise IT spending, spending is forecast to reach $874 billion in 2012 and will grow to $1 trillion by 2016. Throughout the forecast period, midsized business IT spending outperforms other sectors in each of the next five years, driven by growth in spending on enterprise software.
The worldwide telecom equipment market is forecast to show the strongest growth with spending reaching $472 billion in 2012, a 6.9 percent increase from 2011. Gartner attributes this growth to the continued health of the mobile devices market as well as a more positive outlook for enterprise network equipment, which is being driven by spending on application acceleration equipment, network security, WLAN and Ethernet switches.
Nearly 1 Billion Smart Connected Devices Shipped in 2011 with Shipments Expected to Double by 2016
The universe of smart connected devices, including PCs, media tablets, and smartphones, saw shipments of more than 916 million units and revenues surpassing $489 billion dollars in 2011, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). These numbers reflect the combined total from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, Mobile Phone Tracker, and Media Tablet Tracker.
Looking ahead, unit shipments for smart connected devices should top 1.1 billion worldwide in 2012. By 2016, IDC predicts shipments will reach 1.84 billion units, more than double the 2011 figure, as consumers and business of all shapes and sizes around the world are showing a nearly insatiable appetite for smart connected devices. This works out to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4% for the five-year forecast period.
In terms of platforms, IDC expects a relatively dramatic shift between 2011 and 2016, with the once-dominant Windows on x86 platform, consisting of PCs running the Windows operating system on any x86-compatible CPU, slipping from a leading 35.9% share in 2011 down to 25.1% in 2016. The number of Android-based devices running on ARM CPUs, on the other hand, will grow modestly from 29.4% share in 2011 to a market-leading 31.1% share in 2016. Meanwhile, iOS-based devices will grow from 14.6% share in 2011 to 17.3% in 2016.
2012 IT Budgets up by 20% but Employer Fears Loom Regarding Losing IT Talent
According to two just-released surveys by Boca Raton-based Information Technology (IT) search and staffing firm, PROTECH, IT budgets and salaries continue to increase while employers show increased concern about losing their IT employees.
Average 2012 IT budgets increased to 10.2% from 8.5% in 2011. The 10th Annual Tech Leadership survey also revealed 42% of Tech Leaders plan to increase IT staff this year (up by 13% compared to 2011). And 57% of Tech Executives are concerned about losing top IT talent in 2012 (up by 14%). The top reason continues to be compensation with a 58% response (up by 35% from 2011).
The number of companies offering professional development and technical training jumped to 88% in 2012 from 63% in 2011 (almost a 40% increase). And for the first time since 2006, employee retention and training came up as key non-technology priorities for IT hiring executives.
A marked shift is also taking place towards direct employment versus temp staffing in this year's survey, showing the balance of direct employees up by 21% compared to 2011. "Employers are more confident about making longer term hiring decisions in IT which can further propel corporate growth and streamline operations," said Vazquez.
The 8th Annual Tech Talent survey showed the most important aspects when considering a job being salary; followed by stability, benefits, work-life balance and career growth. Flextime/telecommuting was cited as the best perk offered by a past/present employer followed by bonuses (including sign-on, retention and annual bonuses).
Employees received an average 2011 pay increase of 3.5% from the 2% they received in 2010. "We are effectively now in an employee-driven market due to low unemployment in IT and specialized candidates weighing multiple job offers," said Vazquez.
PROTECH surveyed over 700 IT Director to CIO level executives for its 10th annual Tech Leadership Survey; and over 15,000 IT professionals for its 8th annual Tech Talent survey. All participants are located in Florida's Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Additional survey highlights:
Economic Outlook: The number of Tech Executives who perceive the current health of the overall economy as "Getting Stronger" this year was 56% versus 53% in 2011.
The top three technology-related priorities for 2012 are "Infrastructure Upgrades" (38%); "Web site redesign" (23%); and "New Large Applications Development endeavor" (20%).
56% of tech leaders reported the IT function being viewed as "critical" within their organizations (up from 50% in 2011).