Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Interactive Intelligence Releases Findings of Middle East Customer Service Experience Survey

November 22, 2013

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but the Middle East has become one of the emerging markets for next generation customer interactions capabilities. Customer experience solutions provider Indianapolis, IN-based Interactive Intelligence, with a growing presence in the region conducted a survey back in June and July of this year to assess how 121 contact center professionals felt about their ability to provide better customer experiences and where they needed to improve.

The results of the survey have been released, and they are certainly food for thought. Several key findings of the survey included the following:

  • Not surprisingly, 78.5 percent rated customer experience to be extremely important while 18.2 percent stated it to be important.
  • First call resolution, professionalism and a timely response are perceived to be the most valued parameters in customer interactions in that particular order. This is in line with the global survey results from earlier this year which reveal that a knowledgeable representative and a timely response are the most valuable components of a great service experience.
  • 76 percent of respondents already have a customer service strategy in place, though surprisingly there were still 24 percent that either did not have a strategy or were not aware of such strategies.
  • Organizations perceive the contact center to be vital to providing excellent customer service. 66.1 percent stated it to be very important and 24 percent agreed that the contact centre was somewhat important in this regard.
  • The contact center professionals remain at the helm of defining strategies for customer experience for 51.2 percent of respondents. Sales and Marketing departments also exert influence and 33.1 percent of participants stated that IT too is increasingly playing a role.
  • Companies tend to use a combination of metrics to measure the success of their customer service campaigns. Of these, the most popular methods are Customer Feedback Forms (57.9 percent) and Customer Satisfaction Score or CSAT (43 percent), while Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs and Customer Effort Scores (CES) are employed to a lesser degree (each less than 15 percent).
  • Organizations also use a combination of technologies to support customer service. These include Customer Relationship Management (70.2 percent), customer feedback tools (52.9 percent), call & voice recording (35.5 percent), social media analytics/monitoring (34.7 percent) and computer telephony integration or CTI (33.9 percent).
  • While email and telephone remain the primary as well as the most time consuming channels for customer service, social media engagement is now supported by more than one third of businesses and almost a quarter have now begun to offer customer support though mobile applications. This indicates the progress of the region compared to that of the globe where social media and mobile app support account for only eight percent and seven percent of the time organizations dedicate to customer service.
  • Emphasis on social media is likely to grow as people in the region seem inclined to share their experience via this channel. It is noted that companies should be further motivated by the findings of the global study which has shown that more customers (54 percent) are inclined to sharing details of an excellent interaction through social media than those who would do so in the case of a horrendous experience (36 percent).
  • Complete integration across all customer touch-points has been achieved by only 28.9 percent of respondents while over half claim to have this implemented to lesser degree
  • Organizations can also leverage customer service to generate new revenue streams. 38 percent of respondents believe customers in the Middle East will be willing to pay for reasonably priced support and 18.2 percent agree that payment is indeed justified for high level services. The global survey indicates that this is already being implemented worldwide with over half (53 percent) of organizations offering their customers a higher level of service for a premium fee.

In terms of the diversity of those participating, 35.3 percent were from technology organizations while Manufacturing, Banking and Financial Services and Business Services accounted for 11.8 percent. In addition, 46.3 percent of respondents worked in IT roles, Customer Service (18.2 percent) and Sales and Market (16.5 percent) accounted for the remaining.

Shaheen Haque, Territory Manager, Middle East and Turkey at Interactive Intelligence says, "As a provider of business communications software for contact centers and enterprises, we were eager to understand the importance that enterprises in the region are placing on customer service and the strategies and methodologies that are currently being employed to optimize customer service interactions. The survey has thrown up some interesting results and it is encouraging to see a sizeable number of enterprises integrating the latest technology and social media into their strategy."

What the survey demonstrated was that while regional differences exist, the challenges that enterprises face in improving customer experiences are universal, and there are lots of opportunities for accelerating improvements. 

Edited by Ryan Sartor