Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Latest UK Research Identifies Important Contact Center Measurements

July 18, 2008

The effectiveness of the contact center interaction and the likeliness of a customer purchase after this interaction has been a point of focus for numerous research studies completed on the industry.

A recent study completed by GfK NOP Consumer has found that 69 percent of UK consumers would be less likely to purchase after a negative call center experience. This statistic represents a 75 percent increase among 16-44 year olds. Another seven out of 10 customers reported that they might or would definitely tell someone about a negative call center experience.

This research also shows that nearly half of 25-44 year old consumers have changed suppliers due to a negative call center experience. This is significantly higher than the national average of 35 percent.
Research from GfK NOP Consumer coincides with the launch of the UK’s largest industry-wide mystery shopping study to find the country’s Top 50 Call Centers for Customer Service. An independent initiative led by Call Centre Focus magazine, it aims to recognize good practice and raise customer service standards across the industry.

Claudia Hathway, editor of Call Centre Focus commented in a Thursday statement, "The message of this research is clear. Call centers need to provide a great experience for their customers, or risk losing their business. And that means developing a customer-centric service strategy that takes into account the changing needs of today's consumers.”

”To help find out what customers really want and highlight good industry practice, we will be carrying out 20,000 mystery shopping calls over the summer to find the UK's Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service," Hathway added.

Word of mouth has always been an important information tool for companies and its growing importance was highlighted by this research as 51 percent of 16-24 year olds reported that they would share a negative call center experience. For those in the 45-54 year age bracket, the result was 38 percent.

Dr. Max Blumberg, customer management strategist and visiting researcher at the University of London, specializes in motivating workforces, leadership teams and sales forces.
"This is very important news for bigger brands, who could be sitting on a demographic time bomb. They need to understand that the service provided by call centers is a key component of brand value in driving customer acquisition and repeat purchasing,” explained Dr. Blumberg.

”It is no longer enough to focus on product and price alone. Consumers take a more holistic view of value when making purchasing decisions and the UK's most affluent demographic groups are most likely to wield their buying power by changing suppliers.”

"Yet even though the importance of customer service is well established many companies invest more in innovative product development and pricing strategies than they do in customer-oriented call-centre strategies. These companies usually end up with fantastic, well-priced products, but with markets that will not buy them because of personal or word-of-mouth negative call-centre experiences,” Blumberg added.

The research also highlighted that good customer service can produce powerful brand advocates as 49 percent said that they would be more loyal to a company after a positive call center experience. Another 23 percent said that they would recommend an organization to other people.

The three most important aspects of customer service included friendly agents by 53 percent, speed of call answering by 57 percent, and knowledgeable agents by 49 percent. These qualities were perceived as much more important than having their problems solved in a single call, being told their position in the queue while on hold and agents having access to their account history.

The research also identified the three most frustrating aspects of poor customer service when calling the call center. Complicated automated systems were cited by 53 percent of consumers, long phone queues or long period of time on hold were cited by 52 percent and having to repeat the inquiry was cited by 42 percent.

Research such as this should be considered vital to the contact center as in their quest for delivering the optimal customer experience, they could easily be focusing on the wrong elements of the experience and in effect, deliver a less than satisfying interaction.
Understanding the experience from the customer’s point of view will go a long way towards delivering satisfaction and ensuring that the customer remains loyal for a long time.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for Market Drive News. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.
Don’t forget to check out ContactCenterSolutions’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is Managing Application Performance by Understanding Applications, brought to you by Shunra Virtual Enterprise.