New research from customer management leader Convergys Corporation shows that consumers welcome proactive outreach from service and sales organizations, but only when companies make the interaction relevant by first understanding the consumer’s individual needs and interests.
The Convergys 2011 U.S. Customer Scorecard Research offers an in-depth view of contact preferences – by topic and channel -- and underscores the importance of analytics tools that provide the insights essential to making interactions worthwhile for consumers and companies alike. When communications are on the mark, consumers are receptive to outreach on a variety of issues:
60% of consumers want to be informed of excessive or unusual usage or fraud, and about special offers and discounts;
51% want to learn about product/service upgrades;
43% say it's "okay" to contact them for feedback on the quality of service;
41% approve of a reminder about a payment or deadline renewal.
However, although many consumers are open to proactive outreach, companies often squander the opportunity by using generalized outreach that alienates consumers. According to the Convergys research, nearly one out of every four consumers who complain about the effort of working with companies specifically cite company employees who waste their time trying to sell them something they don’t want.
In addition to favored topics, consumers also expressed specific channel preferences. Nearly three-quarters of respondents preferred e-mail outreach, while more than half said contact via U.S. mail or telephone were also acceptable. Automated and new media channels were less popular, with only one in five consumers preferring IVR and text messages, and fewer than in one in ten saying they prefer to be contacted by social media.
New Research Finds IT Budgets are Up, and so is Demand for New Technology Projects
InformationWeek Reports, a service for peer-based IT research and analysis, announced the release of its latest research report. Outlook 2012 encompasses analysis of results from InformationWeek's recent survey on IT spending, staffing plans and strategies for 2012. More than 600 business technology professionals responded to this poll.
IT budgets are up, and so is demand for new technology projects, according to the 2012 edition of InformationWeek's annual Outlook survey. Fifty-six percent of respondents say their companies plan to increase tech spending in the coming year, up from 46% two years ago. Three-quarters of respondents see heightened demand for new IT projects, up from about half in our Outlook 2010 survey. This budget growth builds on last year's momentum, while strong demand for tech projects is a positive sign for overall business expansion and investment.
Two years ago, the IT hiring picture was bleak: Just 14% of companies were expanding compared with 18% making cuts. Today, 25% are expanding vs. just 9% cutting back.
23% say IT is viewed as a business driver and is therefore asked to cut spending less than other departments.
49% of respondents say their companies will increase spending on data center software next year compared with just 9% cutting that spending; 42% say they will increase spending on data center hardware, while 12% will cut.
Tech pros are changing their tune about tablets: 51% of IT pros last year "strongly disagreed" that their companies would give tablets to even 10% of employees who normally would get a PC. Now just 35% of respondents are that deeply skeptical.
Technology executives expect information technology (IT) hiring to continue in the first quarter of 2012, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report (http://rht.mediaroom.com/ITHiringIndex). In the latest quarterly survey, 20 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) said they plan to expand their IT departments, and 10 percent expect cutbacks, for a net 10 percent projected increase in hiring activity. This is up four points from the previous quarter's projections.
The net 10 percent increase in anticipated IT hiring activity is up four points from a net 6 percent increase in hiring activity projected last quarter.
Networking and IT security professionals are in greatest demand, according to survey respondents.
Almost three quarters (73 percent) of CIOs said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today, up seven points from the previous quarter.
Eight-eight percent of CIOs are confident in their companies' growth prospects in the next three months.
Eighty-three percent of technology executives expressed confidence in their firms' first-quarter investment in IT projects, rating the possibility of IT investment a 3 or higher on a five point scale, with 5 being most confident.
Skills in Demand
The functional areas in which executives say they are experiencing the greatest challenge in finding skilled IT professionals are networking (20 percent) and IT security (19 percent). Applications development, data/database management and help desk/technical support followed, cited by 15 percent, 11 percent and 10 percent of survey respondents, respectively.
Network administration remains the skill set in greatest demand, cited by 57 percent of CIOs. Windows administration and desktop support were next, each with 56 percent of the response.
CIOs in the West South Central area of the country plan the most IT hiring in the first quarter with a net 23 percent of executives anticipating adding IT staff.
Executives in the retail industry expect the most IT hiring in the first quarter. A net 17 percent of CIOs in this sector plan to expand their IT departments. This was followed by the business services industry with a net 16 percent of technology leaders anticipating hiring increases. Manufacturing was next, with a net 11 percent of executives in these industries planning to add staff.
New Study: Businesses Fail to Deliver on CEM Programs
A new study from Avaya, a provider of business collaboration and communications solutions and services, investigates the emphasis companies are putting on customer experience management (CEM) and finds that increasingly high expectations are creating a business environment where the majority of organizations are struggling to keep up. While CEM programs are being undertaken on a global scale by businesses of all sizes, the Avaya survey found that China leads the pack with 84 percent of businesses having a CEM solution followed by U.S. (73), India (72), Brazil (63).
CEM activities are strongly tied to business success and growth trajectories. The study found a solid correlation between a strong CEM program and increased profits. Eighty-one percent of those who have seen a significant increase in profits have a CEM program in place, compared to those who have seen profits remain static (46%) or suffered a decrease in profits (35%). Companies see the biggest improvements in customer satisfaction, loyalty, retention and repeat purchasing, which the survey finds is largely attributed to the fact that 88 percent of customers would rather spend their money with companies that make it easy for them to buy.
Despite the fact that 95 percent of business managers say CEM will be important to their organization in 2014, only 59 percent of those surveyed have a comprehensive plan in place. Even with a plan in place, there is no guarantee a CEM approach will garner results, considering 83 percent of companies can only deliver some elements of a personalized customer experience automatically and in real time. In addition, a staggering, 81 percent of organizations have seen their CEM initiatives fail in the last three years. Moreover, 43 percent of Managing Directors, CEOs and owners think the top reason for CEM failure is project misalignment with customer preferences, indicating communication barriers within organizations themselves. Another possible explanation is that companies do not typically associate functions like finance, R&D, IT and operations as dealing with customers. This could be a blind spot in the way they approach and plan CEM initiatives given that people across all departments within the company have direct or indirect contact with customers and prospects and not just the roles typically seen as customer facing.
Today's multichannel/multidisciplinary way of working with customers requires strong support from enabling technology. Of companies without a CEM program, 31% blame its absence on a lack of appropriate technology in place – a figure that rises to 35% of multichannel companies. Avaya’s expertise and insights from working with thousands of companies and organizations has resulted in a portfolio of Customer Experience Management solutions and services that enables the end-to-end experience customers want.