Personal, Measured, And Important To Business: Welcome To The Contact Centre’s World In 2017
VoiceSage’s John Duffy shares some fascinating details of an important industry-wide probe into what’s happening in terms of current customer contact centre outreach
Brands are being much more personal in terms of their outreach, which often happens by phone, and which is being a lot better measured than some negative reports about customer contact would suggest.
That’s one of the main conclusion of an interesting market analysis exercise we’ve just carried out, and whose findings I’d like to share with you here today. We did this in partnership with one of the most important professional bodies in the marketing sector, the UK Contact Centre Forum.
The 2017 UKCCF Proactive Customer Service survey clearly shows that Proactive Service can play a key role within forward-looking Customer Experience strategies, with many potential benefits for both brands and their users.
Let’s put this in a bit of market context. In 2012, only one in three companies asked by Gartner expected to compete for business primarily on the basis of great customer experience (CX). When the analysts went back to ask last year, this is what they found; that number had shot up to nine out of ten.
Clearly, CX is an increasingly important factor in brands’ plans to secure more market share. But how is that translating to company operations on a day-by-day basis? We received responses from over 150 practitioners that provide some intriguing insights in to that question.
Most queries initiated by the customer
The research had two parts. In the first it explored the nature of respondents’ businesses, what communication channels they use, the extent to which they map out and personalise customer journeys, and how many interactions it takes to resolve issues. In the second it examines what is taking place in respect to a move to proactive service.
The first part will be the focus for our discussion in this article.
The survey user base was broad. There was interest in the survey in everything from provision of accountancy services to building management systems, cruise holidays and more; in the public sector, answers were recorded from professionals in adult social care, environmental and neighbourhood services, and council tax and housing repair requests.
When asked who was doing the outreach here, the brand or the customer? The answer came back loud and clear, the latter. Over 75% of queries respondents chose to answer questions about were ones initiated by customers.
When asked what communication channel is usually used to initiate customer contacts, it emerged that, even in 2017, the phone is still ‘king’, with that channel being by far the most popular communications channel used for the customer contacts these practitioners answered questions about, at 75%; email was second, but way behind, at 18%.
The survey then explored how people measure the success of these contact experiences. The number of contacts it takes to resolve a customer query is still the dominant metric used by customer contact operations to measure service effectiveness. For the queries that respondents chose to answer questions about, 45.1% were resolved (on average) on first contact, 27.4% on second contact, and 20.3% on third contact.
A high percentage of organisations have deployed integrated information and contact routing systems
The survey then examined whether the brands and public sector entities analysed their customers’ journeys, perhaps going so far as to map out what an ‘ideal journey’ might look like. The question was left fairly open, in order not to tell participants if the journey in question was the journey for an individual customer query (i.e. from the time the first contact was made to the time that query was closed) or the complete customer lifecycle (i.e. from the time the person first became a customer to the time they ceased to be a customer).
This is what came back: the majority, 56.4%, report that they map the customer journey, while a further 20.1% said that they were working on it. Only 23.5% of people said that they did not map it. That suggests some education work on the benefits of better mapping is required, it seems.
A key question next; the research looked at whether agents had access to previous conversations with customers about the same issue – and if so, over which channels? The answer was fairly reassuring: nearly 56% of the sample said that they can give a team member ‘immediate access to previous conversations with customers about the same issue and across all channels’.
That shows a reassuringly high percentage of organisations have deployed integrated information and contact routing systems. A further 18.1% said that they were working on developing these capabilities, which is also a positive. The conclusion from that has to be that not only do brands and organisations map out the customer journey, they are also doing great work empowering the contact centre personnel and support systems by giving them access to other information to improve customer experiences.
But how personalised are these communications? Included on this head are such incentives as special offers, preferential upgrade prices, loyalty bonuses as ways to enhance the customer experience. That Gartner statistic tells us that brands are highly aware of how important that factor is. We asked if organisations were able to deliver personalised communications to improve customer experiences, by technology or other approaches.
The answer is that it’s genuinely happening. A high percentage, 69%, confirmed they do – and given a further 20.8% say that they could offer limited personalisation, the verdict has to be that personalised outreach is becoming increasingly BAU (Business As Usual).
A fascinating set of answers. In the next article, we’ll discuss the next most vital question after ‘Are you getting personal’ – ‘Are you being proactive?’
You can download the full research report and the conclusions John is discussing by visiting here