Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Customers Have Low Confidence in Customer Support Knowledge

March 04, 2013

How knowledgeable are your customer service personnel? Do the agents in your call center who are tasked with answering questions and solving problems really know your products and services?

Your customers don’t think so.

New research from BT and Avaya uncovered that about 70 percent of customers believe themselves to be more informed about a company’s products and services than the call center agents they deal with. The same study found that 80 percent of people thought agents struggled to answer their questions and 85 percent believed they'd been put on hold because agents didn't know what to say.

Whether it’s the truth or simply a perception, it’s troubling. If agents are coming across as knowledgeable and confident, they are undermining the image of the company and damaging the customer relationship. Customers can smell weaknesses, and other research has shown that 78 percent of consumers say that they only buy from businesses that make it easy for them to deal with. One-third believe convenience is more important than price, and half believe customer loyalty is a thing of the past.

Clearly, there is a failure of training in many contact centers. It’s tricky to keep well trained agents in place: most contact centers have high turnover rates and spend far too much on recruitment, hiring and training. This simply can’t be an excuse to make shortcuts in hiring and training, however. Competence in the call center staff is simply too important to skimp on.

It’s not only about training, however. It’s also about skills-based routing, or ensuring that customers calls are routed to the best possible person to handle the call.

"Consumers are more connected and better informed than ever before, so when they do call — or use another channel such as web chat or video — they expect to deal with someone who knows what they're talking about. When organizations fail to connect their customers to the right agent, it's not only frustrating for the consumer but also for the staff involved,” said Andrew Small, vice president of BT Contact, BT Global Service.

 “The solution is for organizations to use technology to ensure their customers' calls go to the right agent first time and to connect contact center staff using collaboration tools to create networked experts who can share their knowledge when needed. This new BT and Avaya research highlights not only that many organizations are failing to do this but also the danger of poor service in a world where consumer loyalty is a thing of the past."

Mark de la Vega, VP and general manager of contact center applications at Avaya, said that the new challenge for contact center operators is to build the infrastructure that enables consumers to seamlessly switch between all of the channels they provide to give a truly cohesive and satisfying customer experience.

So how do you know if you’re providing this cohesive and satisfying customer experience? Testing, quality monitoring and analytics are far preferable to finding out that 70 percent of your customers think you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Edited by Brooke Neuman