Logo
BodyBGTop
Forrester Research Finds Disservice in Self-Service
Customers still want to speak to live agents, but companies aren't making it easy for either side, according to a new report.
Posted Sep 24, 2008
Page 1



Poor call routing, failure to solve problems, and fumbled handoffs from self-service to agent interaction are some of the chief complaints voiced by customers and agents alike, and it’s hurting businesses. Automated phone help intended to help solve simple issues and lessen the workload of service reps aren’t working as planned, and nearly half of 5,000 customers surveyed still prefer to speak to a live agent, according to “Why Talking to Customers Is Ruining Your Business,” a new report from Forrester Research.

“While the trend over the past 10 years has been to try to move customers to self-service channels to reduce costs, 45 percent of consumers still prefer to speak with a customer service agent on the phone for customer service,” writes Natalie Petouhoff, senior analyst and lead author of the report. Self-service via automated phone systems ranked last among survey respondents, with only 2 percent choosing it.

Surprisingly, this state of affairs crosses generational boundaries. “In fact Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers all prefer talking to an agent to get service more than any other channel,” Petouhoff writes. Nor is it only the phone that customers prefer to self-service channels; after a live agent, the most preferred means of assistance (36 percent) for all generational cohorts is going to a store location for face-to-face help. Filling the gap between second and last are sending e-mail (6 percent); using the Web to find information (5 percent); and interacting with a live rep via chat or IM (3 percent).

The reasons for this dissatisfaction among customers, according to the report, are:

  • Self-service channels don’t always get the job done;
  • Poor channel integration leads to customer frustration; and
  • Self-service systems don’t always build trust.

“Consumers expect to speak with a human who is knowledgeable, patient, friendly, courteous, informed, easy to understand, and responsible for resolving issues,” Petouhoff writes. “Instead, consumers often encounter incorrect problem diagnosis, agent attitude issues, several transfers to ‘experts,’ long hold times, incomplete or contradictory answers, and a need to repeat information already given.”

Businesses that employ phone self-service – and there are a lot of them – are aware that they’re not living up to expectations. “Not surprisingly, more than half of the 58 business and IT leaders we recently surveyed reported that their company’s adoption of customer service agent best practices was poor/below average to average,” Petuhoff writes. The problem areas they identified include:

  • Routing calls to the wrong customer service agent;
  • Dismal knowledge management capabilities; and
  • Clumsy self-service to live service transition.

The worst specific problems in these broad areas were passing relevant information to the agent when a customer transitions to live service, and automatically generating and ranking frequently asked question (FAQ) lists; 62 percent ranked each of these as average or worse. Other notable lacks were found in agents’ ability to review customer histories, products, and services (60 percent); and routing incidents to the most skilled personnel (57 percent).

As always, Forrester’s research includes practical advice. Mapping out call flow, modernizing the contact center, redesigning agents’ responsibilities and processes, and improving knowledge management are top priorities for fixing the customer service mess. The Forrester report is the first in the “The Gap in the Customer Service Experience” series, written by an all-star cast of Forrester analysts including Petouhoff, 2007 CRM Influential Leader William Band, Chip Gliedman, Ray Wang, and Sharyn Leaver.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.


Page 1
To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
Learn more about the companies mentioned in this article in the destinationCRM Buyer's Guide:
{0}
Related Articles
CallCopy's cc: Survey enables data collected by customer service agents to influence the entire organization.
SpeechTEK '08: As this year's conference opens, industry analysts, consultants, and providers say vendors must shed their distorted views on end-user opinions of speech automation.
Out-innovate the competition in 9 contrarian ways.
CRM magazine's Influential Leaders are the executives and industry pundits with the strategy, product line, or visionary thinking needed to drive the market.
The Bozeman, Mont.-based provider's latest quarterly on-demand release "pushes the envelope," according to one industry analyst.
Web 2.0 technology leaves many companies' knowledge base systems in the dust.
New research indicates that a 3.6 percent drop in 2007 may be followed by further declines this year -- and well into 2009.
Forrester Research reveals an Enterprise Web 2.0 growth chart.
 
Search
Popular Articles
 

BodyBGRight
Home | Get CRM Magazine | CRM eWeekly | CRM Topic Centers | CRM Industry Solutions | CRM News | Viewpoints | Web Events | Events Calendar
DestinationCRM.com RSS Feeds RSS Feeds | About destinationCRM | Advertise | Getting Covered | Report Problems | Contact Us