Contact centres falling behind their customers
Organisations across the country are scrambling to meet customer demands for ‘multi-channel communications,’ by which customers can interact with the organisations that serve them via multiple communications channels, from telephone to post to social media.
This is according to a new independent survey by Shape the Future commissioned by Azzurri Communications. 96% of organisations now interact with their customers via multiple channels, yet only one quarter (27%) have implemented multi-channel communications systems to track all interactions in one place. Download the full report, titled The Azzurri Contact Centre Leader Peer-to-Peer Opinion Exchange 2013 at http://www.azzurricommunications.com/Campaigns/contact-centre-survey-download.aspx.
This rush to communicate in so many ways is leaving organisations exposed as they struggle to join the dots and deliver good quality, joined up service to their customers. According to research by Oracle, this lack of cohesion can result in customers shifting their loyalties to competitors. 64% of customers have made future purchases from a competitor after experiencing poor customer service. At the same time consumers cited being transferred between staff as the top reason for decreasing their loyalty to a brand.
With the advent of the Internet, increasingly sophisticated contact centres and most recently social media, organisations have a vast array of communications channels available to them, including phone, email, post, face-to-face, Twitter, Facebook, SMS and webchat. All organisations surveyed currently offer telephone as a channel to their customers, followed closely by email (92%) and post (69%). Face-to-face is offered by 52% of organisations. The graph below shows the popularity of different communications channels.
Addressing social media, Facebook is now a relatively established communications channel for many, but not the majority of, organisations – with 40% now offering Facebook as an option for their customers. However only 5% added Facebook as a channel in the last year suggesting that adoption of the social network as a communications channel is slowing down. Twitter on the other hand has been adopted more quickly. While 48% of organisations now use Twitter for customer service, a staggering 40% only added Twitter in the last year.
However social media is not the only channel that organisations are interested in. Some organisations are turning the clock back as so-called “snail mail” has also seen a comparable increase in comparison to its social media usurpers, with 35% of organisations adding post as a new channel for their customers in the last year.
With 96% of contact centres having more than one channel of communication (45% of which introduced new channels in the past year alone), it is therefore surprising that only 27% have introduced integrated multi-channel systems to manage them. This is despite 65% of organisations admitting that the best solution for handling multiple communication channels is an integrated all-in-one system. Bearing in mind the adoption of integrated systems has increased since last year (9% to 27%), there are clearly a number of factors that are holding back adoption. Why haven’t 65% of organisations adopted integrated systems into their contact centres?
The biggest hurdle cited was that organisations have already invested in different solutions for different channels (40%). The next biggest barrier was cost, with contact centres feeling that implementing an integrated system would cost too much. Addressing cost, the organisations were then asked to estimate how long they thought it would take to recover the cost of implementing an integrated system. The average estimate was 2.2 years. When we asked those who had already implemented it, the actual average time was just 1.8 years.
The benefits to organisations that have implemented an integrated system to manage multiple channels are numerous. For example, 63% of contact centre agents in organisations that have integrated systems can see a full history of communication when responding to a client, so they can see every email exchange, phone conversation, webchat or even Twitter of Facebook message from each client, giving them a complete picture of the customer’s query. In contrast only 23% of agents in organisations without integrated systems are able to do this, which can often result in the customer becoming frustrated as they have to re-explain their situation multiple times.
Integrating channels also significantly improves responsiveness to customers on social media. Those organisations with integrated systems would respond to a customer’s tweet, on average, within 34.5 minutes. In contrast it takes 4.4 hours for those without integrated systems to respond to a single tweet – more than 750% longer! In a world of increasingly instant communication, that is unacceptably slow.