Editor's Choice - Featured Article

February 12, 2014

Contact Centers NOT Improving Customer Satisfaction Finds CFI Group Index

Hardly a day goes by without an item about how improving the customer experience is now the intense focus of C-levels globally.  In fact, the job of Chief Customer Experience Officer (CCEO), or a title very similar, is arguably the fastest growing “C” position in enterprises around the world. The reasons are obvious. They are also what are driving the adoption of new contact center solutions and the use of Big Data analytics as enterprises large and small seek to create sustainable advantage by enhancing how they interact with all of us. 

One would think that all of this attention would lead to customer satisfaction ratings that were on the rise. Unfortunately, the CFI Group's Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI), now in its seventh year, tells a different story.  In fact, the just released index finds customer satisfaction with contact centers “dropped a whopping 10 percent in 2013.”  In addition, as CFI Group notes, with a score of 69 (on a 100 point scale), the 2013 score reflects an eight point pull back from the record high of 77 in 2012.

If you are any part of the contact center solutions community this is a “must download and read” report.

There is a lot of grumpiness out there

The 2013 CCSI collected data from more than 1,500 consumers across six major industries: banking, cell phone service, health insurance, property insurance, retail, and cable or satellite TV.  The 38-page report documents with incredible granularity the growing dissatisfaction with contact center interactions in the sectors covered. It also provides theories on what is going on along with pointers on what can be done to reverse the downward trend as depicted in the seven-year look.

Source (News - Alert):  CFI Group Contact Center Satisfaction Index 2013

"With such a large drop in customer satisfaction, companies need to focus on improving their contact center's policies and procedures currently in place as they look for ways to return to prior year's satisfaction levels," says Terry Redding, vice president of marketing and product development for CFI Group. "This focus will aid more than just scores; it is vital from a company profit perspective as satisfied customers buy more and recommend the companies to others more frequently, all of which contributes to the bottom line."

Beyond basic policies and procedures, CFI Group sees two explanations for the drop.

  1. Consumers have low confidence with the economy and government and are generally fatigued as the economy continues to stall, leading to the score backlash.
  2. After years of steady growth in performance, consumers have built an expectation of great service, and contact centers failed to meet it this year.

Interestingly, the report shows there are ways for contact centers to increase satisfaction, especially through the use of non-call channels. In fact, one of the key finds is the growing desire for self-paced help.  This is an area where almost half of respondents said their preferred method of contact would be a non-call communication, such as email, chat or via the company's website. Chat in particular is singled out with 63 percent of this year's respondents saying they actively look for the chat function when visiting a company's site.

"As non-call channels continue to grow in use and popularity, now is the time for contact centers to begin training, testing and monitoring these channels for improvement in the customer's experience," says Redding. "To better serve customers, companies need to continue to look at the service aspect of their website with an eye towards customer self-service and not just traditional marketing and sales activities."

The CCSI also found that social media is growing as an avenue for customers to share and voice opinions in a community setting and for businesses to conduct damage control. Nearly 40 percent of respondents turned to social media to voice a concern, increasing from 17 percent of respondents in 2012.

"Successful companies are monitoring this channel and reaching out to consumers through the same social media to address consumer issues. When done successfully, companies are seeing the payback as the study shows significant increases in customer satisfaction, loyalty and likelihood to recommend as a result of these efforts," says Redding.

As noted, there is a real trove of valuable information and insights in the report.  The two charts below are indicative of this. The first shows that the decline is evident in all industry segments surveyed. 

Source:  CFI Group Contact Center Satisfaction Index 2013

The second is part of a series that delves into the customer experience and breakdowns why first contacts fail.

Source:  CFI Group Contact Center Satisfaction Index 2013

The report goes into several important areas including:  satisfaction drivers and how improvements can raise sat scores;  reasons why people reach out to contact center support in the first place; the way people currently contact enterprises and the shifting nature of this as those non-call channels become more important, especially in terms of what becomes the first point of contact; and looks at each channel of interaction (call, IVR, chat, email, website, Facebook (News - Alert) and other) and their impact on moving the bar back up. 

CFI Group concludes from its analysis of the data a few points to consider:

  • People want options beyond the phone.
  • First call resolution is everything
  • Chat as a service channel is growing, especially with Millennials
  • Social media is used as damage control, i.e., it is not the primary way people wish to interact but is where they vent and thus needs to be monitored closely for brand protection.
  • Offshore contact centers remain a problematic area, particularly as people’s expectations continue to rise, their patience gets shorter, and alternatives for future business are widely available.

There is a nice quote at the start of the index that really says it all: “In the growing environment of continuous connectivity, contact centers have become, for many, the primary face of the companies we do business with—always there, always on, and always expected to deliver on the company promise.”  As I commented a few weeks back, making the contact center the brand ambassador, hence improving the technology and the skills of the people who are the front line of customer interactions, has taken on increased importance. 

The advent of social media and the ability to make bad experiences viral along with rising expectations, fickleness and instant availability of alternatives, are why all of those CCEOs have been put in place.  This is clearly a report that they are going to find illuminating to say the least.  

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Related Contact Center Solutions Articles

    Contact Center Solutions Week in Review: Interactive Intelligence, BT and Accenture

    The future is now, or at least it is coming at us fast in the Contact Center Solutions Community, and there are two great ways to be part of the industry buzz as to what is unlikely to unfold in 2015. The first is to attend ITEXPO East, January 27-30, 2014 at the Miami Beach Convention center. This is a great opportunity to be warm and more to the point, hear, see and discuss contact center issues in person with peers and subject matter experts. [ Read More ]

    Customer Experience: The Last True Differentiator

    In Ernst & Young's Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014, customers chose "the way I am treated" as the second most important reason for trusting their banking provider, just behind the understandably important "financial stability" of their bank. Customer experience was also cited as the most common reason for opening and closing accounts, more important than fees, rates, locations or convenience. Approximately 40 percent of customers planned to open or close an account in 2014. This means banks … [ Read More ]

    Digital Is Driving Businesses to Offer Personal and Intuitive Customer Experiences says Accenture Report

    The preoccupation with improving the customer experience (CX) by C-levels around the world has been a trend for several years. In fact, the fastest growing C-level position is Customer Experience Management Officer (CEMO) or some variation on the title. And, as CX becomes ever more important as the means to provide differentiated value, delighting existing customers and for obtaining and keeping new ones, the preoccupation will not only grow more intense in 2015, but so will the investments in t… [ Read More ]

    BT Launches New Personalized Video Message Service

    When it comes to contact center out-reach there are two trends that everyone needs to literally and figuratively keep an eye on in 2015. They are "personalization" and "video." And, while the first may seem obvious since the goal of marketers is to make customers and prospects feel appreciated with tailored messages uniquely for them, the use of video on the outbound side of things is after many years becoming something more than a novelty. [ Read More ]


Contact Center Solutions Glossary of Terms

Featured eBook

    All Things Customer Interaction Solutions eBOOK
    It has been said that customer interaction centers are the front door to any organization's value chain. This is an accurate description of the transformations taking place in contact centers as a result of enhancements in multichannel communications, speech analytics, IVR capabilities, integrations with unified communications capabilities (UC) and other collaboration tools and applications, and the move to the cloud...

Featured Whitepaper

    Microsoft® Lync® in the Contact Center: Integrating with Customer Interaction Center™ to Provide a Barrier-free Customer Experience To implement contact center functionality, organizations using Microsoft Lync Server 2010 can follow the unified communications blueprint of open standards interoperability and integrate to a contact center solution of their choice. Customer Interaction Center (CIC) from Interactive Intelligence is a proven best of breed contact center solution that merits consideration ...

Featured Success Story

    Contact Center Solutions Featured Success Story
    Interactive Intelligence all-in-one IP communications software suite integrated with Microsoft Lync helps Bentley save $200,000 annually.

Featured Product Demo

    Contact Center Solutions Interaction Analyzer™
    Interaction Analyzer™
    Real-time word and phrase spotting. Alerting. Analytics. Scoring. Coaching. Watch how Interaction Analyzer turns every moment, of every past and present call, into data that lets you deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Featured Resources

Ask the Expert