Customer Experience Survey Study – New Learnings from Interactive Intelligence
Unified Communications has business value in a wide variety of settings, and none may be more tailor-made than the contact center. Interactive Intelligence is well-known to our readers, and they recently published the 2014 edition of their Customer Experience Survey. This edition is Wave 2, with the benchmark study being done last year. Being a market researcher by trade, I’m a big proponent of longitudinal studies, and I hope they keep doing this next year and beyond.
The study actually addresses two audiences – consumers and professionals (IT and contact center leaders), but I’m only focusing on the former. With a global sample of 1,462 consumers, the findings are solid, and the data is fresh, having been compiled this spring.
While we UC Experts often discuss the latest trends in multichannel – or omnichannel communications, this study doesn’t go there, but hopefully that will change down the line. For now, we’ll have to make do with other findings, as the research still has some relevant takeaways for the UC space.
Before you can really benefit from UC in the contact center, you need to break things down into standalone pieces. I’m going to look at three of these here, and taken together, I think you can infer a few things about what a UC solution needs to deliver.
Learning #1 – The Phone Still Rules
Say what you want about text, chat, etc. – telephony remains the most effective and preferred tool in a UC solution. Customers may be relying more now on mobility for contact center interaction, but voice is their mode of choice. To illustrate, here are two sets of data in summary form.
Preferred channel when interacting with contact center
|Live agent - phone ||61 |
|Live agent - Web chat ||15 |
|Email ||13 |
|Website || 6 |
|Self-service || 4 |
|Social media || 1 |
Most valued channel for interacting with contact center
|Live agent - phone || 97 |
|Email || 91 |
|Live agent - Web chat || 69 |
|SMS/text || 44 |
|Smartphone/tablet || 44 |
|IVR || 37 |
|Social media || 35 |
Learning #2 – Technology is Just One Aspect of Customer Service
No surprise here, but the research is very prescriptive in terms of what really bothers customers when dealing with contact centers. Many of the problems below can certainly be addressed by UC, and even more so when integrated with CRM. We all know this is where contact centers are heading, and how Big Data will eventually make every interaction a trouble-free experience – but we’re not there yet.
In fact, we may never get there, but as we boldly go forward, there clearly are many fixes that have nothing to do with UC. Looking at the table below, contact centers need to be just as focused on recruiting and training programs that ensure agents can engage effectively with your customers. Every business has its quirks, and the more you can cater to them at this level, the more your contact center will earn its keep.
Greatest cause of frustration with customer service
|Greatest cause of frustration ||Percent|
|Cannot understand the agent on the phone ||75 |
|Agent is condescending or demeaning ||75 |
|Long initial wait time ||64 |
|Lack of effort from the agent ||64 |
|Being transferred multiple times ||63 |
|Agent lacks proper knowledge ||62 |
|Need to repeat information over and over ||50 |
|Being put on hold during the interaction ||32 |
Learning #3 – Customers Value Speed Over Quality
If you saw Jay Baer’s talk at Interactions earlier this month, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Basically, he cited McKinsey data showing how consumers are more likely to advocate brands with fast but not stellar service than those with slow but effective service.
That’s a scary trade-off, but it speaks volumes to how time-starved this always-on world is making us. If that’s what makes customers happy, you’d better go with the flow – and again, if you saw Jay, you’ll know that you don’t have much choice.
Customer engagement is the name of the game, and he noted that customer service is now a spectator sport where anybody can weigh in now about anything using just about any channel. Coming back to Interactive Intelligence, their research provided an interesting point of validation. Instead of providing a discrete yes/no answer, customers in the following instance were asked to rate a series of attributes on an interval scale. The range was from 0 to 6, where the lower the rating, the higher the value. Here’s how the numbers played out.
|Most valued attribute for customer interaction||Rating|
|Timely response ||2.7 |
|Knowledgeable agent ||2.9 |
|First call resolution ||3.0 |
|Professionalism ||3.4 |
|Efficiency ||3.8 |
|Effective follow-up ||5.2 |
While “timely response” doesn’t necessarily mean a timely resolution, it’s clear that your agents had better respond quickly or you’ll have two quick strikes. Conversely, “effective follow up” has far less value to consumers, and it’s not a stretch to say that’s a good indicator of service quality.
As such, you really need to strike the right balance between speed and quality rather than being obsessive about getting a perfect result every time. Customers can live with a few rough edges for their service experience so long as it happens quickly, and that should set the tone for how to deploy UC.
Focus first on getting customers connected to agents right away, and that should buy you enough time for the back end to do the real work of getting the right information in front of your agents. Of course, this presumes you’ve addressed the other learnings above, especially for properly training agents to deal with the needs of your customers.
I encourage you to review the report in detail, as there are other relevant themes for UC, especially around mobility and social media. They aren’t quite as conclusive, but still noteworthy. Overall, it’s great to see vendors conducting and sharing industry-based research, and even the above highlights provide new clarity on how UC can add value to the contact center.
Also on UCStrategies.com on this topic: