Survey: Big Changes Coming For Future Contact Centers
Dimension Data, the $5.8 billion global information and communications technology (ICT) services and solutions provider, announced the results of its 2013/2014 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report, which uncovers significant challenges and emerging trends indicating that the contact center of the future requires a new caliber of technology and resources to keep clients engaged and employees happy.
To extract this information, Dimension Data surveyed 817 participants covering 11 business sectors in 79 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Australia, and the Middle East & Africa. Participants of the survey revealed the following:
Customers are increasingly dissatisfied with their contact center experiences, especially Generation X and Y, who demand a choice of multiple interaction points beyond phone calls, including web chat, smartphone applications and social media.
As contact centers continue to transition their communications platforms, front-line customer service staff are leaving their positions at a growing rate.
Web chat communications systems may be the remedy for increasing end-user dissatisfaction, as customers increasingly expect seamless interaction transitions from one channel to the next.
Contact center workers, end users remain dissatisfied
Contact centers are on an evolutionary path to become highly responsive, cross-channel multimedia hubs. This transformation is creating increased complexity for contact center agents because they are not always hired or trained to communicate within these new channels. As a result, contact center agent absenteeism is three times higher than contact center management; agent attrition is up an alarming 26 percent over 2012 rates. The 2013/2014 Contact Center Benchmarking Report notes that organizations must revamp their operating models, starting with properly trained agents – or risk losing them.
Customer satisfaction is also down for the fourth year running. Contact resolution rates have dropped for a fourth consecutive year, leaving customers with a three-in-four chance of having their issue resolved when contacting a service provider.
Preparing for multichannel engagement starts with hanging up the telephone
The global report shows that for Generation Y – individuals born between 1980 and 2000 – the phone is now the third choice of engagement after electronic messaging and smartphone applications. In addition, the preference gaps for Generation X (individuals born between 1961 and 1989) between phone, messaging, and social media is also narrowing.
Almost one third (31.8%) of contact center advisers are now handling transactions across a variety of emerging channels, such as smartphone applications. Social media and/or web chat deployments are also on the rise: 50.6 percent of contact centers currently offer, or have plans to implement, a web chat solution. The number of planned deployments increased 27.2 percent over the past 12 months, with a further 13.7 percent of survey participants expecting to have a solution in place over the next two years.
The report shows that organizations are aiming to shift 32.6 percent of contacts typically handled by agents to self-service channels. However, organizations under pressure to meet multichannel demands have rushed the haphazard implementation of solutions that only address one channel. As a result, self-help options in the contact center are not catching on as expected, and isolated technology systems are hindering the multichannel consumer experience. Omnichannel is the way forward, and customers want to hop seamlessly across channels and experience true connectedness. Omnichannel interactions that start on one channel and then continue on another, such as web chat, are no longer a “nice to have” feature, but a necessity.
Study Shows Dramatic Growth In Use of Incentives for Employees and Customers
A new study conducted by the Incentive Federation confirms that the non-cash incentives market is thriving with 74 percent of U.S. businesses spending $76.9 billion annually on incentive travel, merchandise and gift cards. The study also reveals that half of this market is driven by smaller businesses (between $1 million and $10 million in annual revenue), whose budgets may be tighter, but whose total volume generates $39 billion annually.
The study found that overall, U.S. businesses spend $22.6 billion annually on incentive travel and over $53 billion on merchandise and gift cards to reward employees, partners and customers.
Conducted in partnership with the Aspect Market Intelligence, the purpose of the study was to collect data from a national sample of nearly 2,000 business executives in order to estimate the current size and characteristics of the non-cash incentives marketplace.
The study also revealed:
98 percent of businesses running non-cash incentive programs include merchandise or gift cards, spending $54.3 billion each year.
46 percent of businesses running non-cash programs include incentive travel, spending $22.6 billion per year.
Non-cash employee awards are the most prevalent, with 56 percent of U.S. businesses having programs, followed closely by corporate gift programs.
Non-cash sales incentive programs are present in almost half of U.S. businesses, and non-cash customer loyalty programs are used in one-third, while one-quarter of U.S. firms use non-cash channel programs.
Gift cards are more frequently used for employee programs (88 percent) than for corporate gifts (55 percent), while merchandise is used relatively evenly.
The incidence of all program types tends to increase with firm size.
New Study from CorvisaCloud Reveals Top Customer Service Complaints
A new study commissioned by cloud-based contact center provider, CorvisaCloud, confirms a direct correlation between customer service management and a company’s bottom line while offering insight on what components of a customer service program are most important to customer retention and acquisition.
In the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by Zogby Analytics, CorvisaCloud shows that one in six customers would rather see their dentist than talk with a customer service agent. Why? One in five (20%) consumers say they’re most aggravated about having to repeat the same information to multiple customer service reps on the same call. And nearly a third (31%) of respondents will wait only five minutes before they hang up the phone, meaning that businesses without efficient customer support processes are looking at a considerable number of angry or lost customers.
Consumers are quick to voice their displeasure. The survey found that after a negative customer service experience one-third (34%) of consumers complain or ask for a manager, further elevating a company’s cost. A bigger concern for the business is that 16 percent of disgruntled consumers tell their friends and family and more than one in 10 (13%) go so far as to say they will never shop with that company again.
Conversely, the moment a customer contacts the company, the opportunity exists to create a solid ongoing relationship. Three in 10 (31%) customers who have a positive experience say they give positive feedback to the company and twenty-nine percent will continue to shop with them, perhaps even more frequently. And, a positive customer service might be the best form of marketing. Fourteen percent of respondents said they sing the praises of the company to friends and family after a positive experience.
Gartner says Cloud Computing will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend by 2016
The use of cloud computing is growing, and by 2016 this growth will increase to become the bulk of new IT spend, according to Gartner, Inc. 2016 will be a defining year for cloud as private cloud begins to give way to hybrid cloud, and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.
Gartner describes cloud computing as a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered “as a service” using Internet technologies. It heralds an evolution of business in positive and negative ways. It has also become a hot industry term that has been used in many contradictory ways.
As enterprises build their cloud computing strategy, the program should be broken down into two primary IT centric work streams, two supporting IT work streams and a strategic business work stream. The two primary work streams are: the enterprise as a consumer of cloud services, and the enterprise as a provider of cloud services. When the enterprise is a consumer, the focus is on the IT-related capabilities delivered as a service. The main goal is determining if, when, where, how and why cloud services should be used. The hardware and software used to implement the service are handled by the service provider and are not a concern of the consumer. When the enterprise is a provider (e.g., building a private cloud) the focus shifts. Now the hardware, software and processes used to implement a cloud service are a primary focus. Service consumption only enters the equation to the extent a cloud service is used as part of the supply chain to develop and deliver the cloud service.
The supporting enterprise work streams are: securing, managing and governing cloud services, and building solutions based on cloud services. There must be software, appliances or services in place to facilitate the consumption and use of cloud service (e.g., provisioning onto a cloud infrastructure service). Cloud solutions may use any combination of cloud infrastructure, platform, software, information or business process services.
A final work stream focuses on the business. Besides being a consumer of cloud services or a provider of cloud services to an internal audience there are opportunities to use the cloud delivery model to provide services to customers and business partners. This represents an evolution of the enterprise's market-facing website and B2B initiatives such as EDI. IT should partner with the business to explore where the service delivery model, agility and elasticity attributes of the cloud style of computing support business optimization and innovation.
U.S. "Switching Economy" Puts Up To $1.3 Trillion of Revenue Up for Grabs for Companies Offering Superior Customer Experiences
Despite having more data and insights into consumer desires and preferences, companies in the U.S. have failed to meaningfully improve customer satisfaction or reverse rising switching rates among their customers. As a result, there is a potential $1.3 trillion of revenue at play in the U.S. market represented by the “switching economy,” according to new research released by Accenture.
The research revealed that 51 percent of U.S. consumers switched service providers in the past year due to poor customer service experiences, up five percent from 2012. Switching rates were highest among retailers, cable and satellite providers and retail banks – making companies in these sectors the most vulnerable, but also giving them potentially the most to gain.
Accenture's analysis of consumer spending forecasts and switching rates revealed by the survey shows that $1.3 trillion of revenue is being transferred between companies in the U.S., forming a sizeable “switching economy.” The findings are published along with the ninth annual Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey, which measured the experiences of 12,867 customers in 32 countries and across 10 industries to gain insight into the changing dynamics of today’s “nonstop” customers and assess consumer attitudes toward marketing, sales and customer service practices. The survey included 1,256 U.S. customers.
The survey found that customers are increasingly frustrated with the level of services they experience: 91 percent of respondents are frustrated that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason; 90 percent by being put on hold for a long time; and 89 percent by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. There are also frustrations with marketing and sales practices: 85 percent of customers are frustrated by dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them; 84 percent by companies promising one thing, but delivering another; and 58 percent are frustrated with inconsistent experiences from channel to channel.
While up in some categories, the survey revealed that customer satisfaction levels have generally remained stagnant across industry sectors and overall satisfaction fell by one percent since 2012. Additionally, the rate of loyalty barely budged among U.S. customers, rising just one percent since 2012, and customers’ willingness to recommend a company rose by just two percent.
Against the high percentage of customers reporting they had switched providers in the last year, 81 percent said that the company could have done something differently to prevent them from switching. And, while the survey showed that price still plays an important role in the choice of provider, the customer experience is equally important.
Digital customer demands tailored experiences
The survey reveals 48 percent of U.S. customers use third-party online sources, such as official review sites, and one-quarter (25 percent) use customer reviews and comments from social media sites, to find out information about a company’s products and services. Word-of-mouth, including that shared via social media, continues to be the most important and impactful source of company information across industries and is used by 71 percent of the surveyed customers. In terms of the number of online channels used, 75 percent of respondents now use one or more online channels when researching companies’ products and services and 33 percent use mobile devices to access these online channels.
The gap between the use of digital technologies and the ability of companies to use them to improve customer experiences is highlighted by the survey’s findings that, among the 10 industries covered by the report, none made noticeable progress in providing customers with a tailored experience in 2013. In the utilities industry, only 18 percent of customers agreed their provider offered them a tailored experience. Even in industries, such as hotels and lodging and retail banking that are perceived to be leading in creating more personalized interactions, only 36 percent of customers acknowledge receiving a tailored experience, respectively.
Yet, while social media and online are regarded as important sources of information, one of the greatest frustrations customers have with companies is the perceived risk to privacy. Eighty-two percent of U.S. customers report that they feel companies they buy from cannot be trusted on how they use personal information provided to them.
The report found that companies that delivered valued customer experiences exhibited five common high impact capabilities, known as the customer-driven digital blueprint. These capabilities include:
1. Hyper-relevance: Show customers the company learns from every interaction and applies it at a more personal level, including customizing their channel and interaction preferences, so customers don’t have to repeat themselves or hit unnecessary roadblocks. This means using predictive analytics to provide a more tailored customer experience with more customization and personalization.
2. Relationships at Scale: Digital gives businesses rich channels through which to communicate with customers in much more personal ways and manage relationships with customers at scale. Use digital to bring the intimacy of the corner store to all customers and then give them more convenient access and more tailored services that matter to them.
3. Seamless Experience: Creating a seamless experience requires a multi-channel approach. Integrate information and processes that enable customers to flow easily across different channels when and how they choose.
4. Inherently Mobile: Learn from customers about what they want to do differently with mobile, and invest in mobile services and support capabilities that stand out to customers.
5. Naturally Social: Harness social media in order to deliver up-to-the-second customer preferences, greater levels of trust, a mechanism for direct and dynamic interaction and more and more usable data upon which business decisions can be made.