While self-service channels have become more prevalent in today’s contact centres, organisations aren’t measuring the cost-to-serve of these channels effectively yet. In addition, few businesses have implemented systems to gauge their customers’ experience of non-agent, self-help channels.

This contradicts emerging practices that link customer satisfaction scores directly to profitability, such as the tracking of share price performance against the ‘voice of the customer’ – a growing trend among forward-thinking organisations.

This is one of the key findings in Dimension Data’s Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2012 released today.  Dimension Data surveyed 637 contact centres in 72 countries across Asia, Australia, Europe, the Americas and Middle East & Africa.


Staggering failings

Andrew McNair, Dimension Data’s Head of Global Benchmarking, says, “The large-scale failure to apply management information systems across new channels and the subsequent absence of cost measurement activity on every channel outside of the telephone is staggering.  Only 27.9% of Internet; 19.4% of web chat; 9.9% of social media; and 6.1% of smartphone application contacts are being measured.  Only 14.6% of participants have any plans to impose measurements. This indicates a massive neglect by organisations, as they struggle to adequately enable investment into new channels through proven business case validations.”

Developing global service standards and the proliferation of social media are facilitating highly visible viral messaging by consumers, who are quickly embracing new channels.  Innovative mobile devices and smartphones, wireless connectivity and social media enable the emerging channels.  All these are proving to be a game changer in the industry.

“Dimension Data’s annual Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report provides greater texture to the changes occurring in the customer service industry and what these changes mean to enterprises across the world. With the consumerisation of customer service taking place (in large due to social media and smart devices) it comes as no surprise that the ripple effects of this trend is placing greater strain not just on the on the contact center but with the broader enterprise,” said Daniel Hong, lead analyst of Customer Experience & Interaction at Ovum.

“As we roll out the tape over the next few years and enterprises create a culture of cross-departmental collaboration to underpin customer experience strategies we will likely witness a surge in customer care innovation on the backdrop of personalized customer experiences built around a cloud infrastructure.”


Controls disregarded and bypassed

Meanwhile, many companies are simply being caught up in a race to establish a presence, and standard controls are being disregarded and bypassed.

“Mobility is driving immediate access requirements like never before. The number of customer contacts is increasing across almost all contact channels, and a strong self-service capability is now an expected core offering from most organisations.  Never before have consumers had such a powerful say in determining how they interact with service providers,” explains McNair.

According to the report, of those companies using a self-service channels such as speech, SMS, web chat or social media, nearly half don’t collect any customer feedback at all.  Self service provides significant opportunity to make or break customer satisfaction and help enable an effective customer management strategy.

“There’s a clear theme emerging around considerable neglect of interactive voice response (IVR) self-service systems – second only to web usage as the most offered self-help path.  Over half (50.6%) of contact centres don’t schedule any regular reviews of their IVR systems and nearly three quarters (72.4%) are needlessly frustrating their customers by not passing information collected in the IVR through to agents,” explains McNair.


There’s a clear theme emerging around considerable neglect of IVR self-service systems.  It would be interesting to consider how many of today’s customer service managers have meaningful management information readily available on IVR penetration, application and usage.


Over half of contact centres don’t schedule any regular reviews of their IVR systems. (10.6% only performed a review at implementation, and – no doubt – without any post-launch effectiveness review. A fifth of businesses never review and approximately the same number seldom review.

Major self-service challenge

Poor design and implementation is affecting self-service uptake levels. Even the Internet falls short, as companies report a migration of only 16.1% of contact centre traffic to the web versus a target of 34.5%.  Overall, just 15.9% of organisations see their self-service solutions as being ahead of the competition, despite the fact that 89.8% acknowledge its importance to their customer base.   These results pose a real challenge for today’s contact centres, as traditional self-service channels become more universally accepted.

Although voice calls may no longer be the primary channel of choice, it’s the most common supporting channel for all self-service methods, and its availability is demanded by customers. To ensure customer satisfaction, uptake of emerging channels and agent efficiency, it’s vital that customers can transition from one channel to the next without hitting dead-ends,” says McNair.

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