While the contact center industry talks about quality frequently, there is evidence that talking is almost companies are doing. A report completed by Forrester (News - Alert) Research last year found that only 37 percent of companies earned a rating of “excellent” or “good” rating from customers, and nearly two-thirds were slapped with the labels “ok” or “very poor.”
While some industries that were notoriously poor in customer service – the wireless industry most notably – have been able to pull up their ratings, most other industries are languishing. So what gives?
Do these companies simply not care? Do they hope to save money on customer service expenditures and cross their fingers that it won’t affect business? Do they intend to provide good service but simply don’t know how? After all, most of these contact centers are chock-full of technology that should theoretically help them do better.
In a provocatively titled article, “Is Technology Killing the Contact Center?”, Andrew Small, VP of Unified Communications, Contact Center and CPE Portfolio for Global Services at BT (News - Alert), wonders if technology isn’t simply compounding many contact centers’ existing problems.
“Bad experiences can be amplified using social media, and a mishmash of outdated stand-alone systems and multiple repositories make it difficult for agents to respond to customer needs,” writes Small. “The wrong technology choices—such as using multiple stand-alone platforms to store customer details, product information, history of past interactions, current and past orders, shipping, and billing—can result in poor customer service and, in turn, reduce the overall lifetime value of the customer.”
Small notes that given this scenario, agents are forced to search for information across multiple data repositories, toggle back and forth from one screen to another, and seek help from peers and supervisors in order to get answers—all with inefficient tools and pressure to meet service-level agreements.
Many contact center managers and executives seem to believe that simply adding a new tech feature – frequently one offered by a different vendor than the existing systems – to the contact center will improve things, when in reality, they are simply adding to the complexity that causes confusion. According to the same Forrester survey that found contact center quality so dim, only eight percent of contact centers have implemented multichannel customer service technologies. By using integrated multichannel solutions, contact centers can ensure that regardless of which agent serves a customer, and regardless of channel, the customer will always receive the same information and won’t have to “start all over,” explaining an old problem to a new agent.
Seems like a given? Considering the results of the Forrester survey, it’s hardly intuitive in contact centers today. While many organizations believe they’re doing their bottom lines a favor by “saving money,” struggling with the same old poorly integrated solutions, in reality they are alienating customers – about two thirds of them, if you read the research – which is costing them money with every day that passes.
Edited by Blaise McNamee