• May 20, 2011

Contact Center Becomes a Second Choice

NICE Systems today released survey results that found the contact center evolving to "Tier 2" status for taking care of escalated service requests that were not addressed by other channels, such as the Web or an interactive voice response (IVR) system.

This change in consumer behavior, which was revealed in the company's 2010 Consumer Channel Preference Survey, reflects the importance and strategic role the contact center must play as the front line of an organization's person-to-person customer interactions. It also highlights an opportunity for reducing the number of calls deflected into the contact center by enhancing Web self-service functionality. To do this, however, an organization requires cross-channel insights that are derived from both the Web and the contact center interactions.

The survey polled more than 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States regarding channel preferences when contacting companies in the following industries: financial services, telecom, retail, travel, and insurance. It revealed that consumers often use a variety of communication channels. When they are unable to resolve an issue during their initial contact with a business, they most often turn to the contact center.

In such a case, the stakes are raised for an organization, as consumers calling a contact center are frustrated, well-informed, and their main concern is having their issues addressed effectively. From their perspective, they have begun an interaction journey that started at a prior touch point. This means that even if an issue is resolved by the contact center representative the customer will not consider it a first contact resolution.

The survey also showed that the very nature of this journey means that consumers are turning to contact centers with more complex needs than they did in the past.

Some of the key results of the survey include:

  • 64 percent of consumers surveyed contact a business through its Web site at least monthly; 44 percent call the contact center at least once monthly; and 55 percent visit a physical location;
  • Of those who cannot resolve their issues through the Web site, 53 percent will call the contact center next;
  • In cases where customers do not resolve an issue during a visit to a business's premises (e.g. branch office), 51 percent of respondents then turn to the contact center for assistance;
  • 35 percent of consumers prefer to interact with a live phone representative for service-related issues, whereas only 22 percent prefer to interact with a live phone representative for purchase-related issues.

"Customers today are taking an interaction journey across multiple communication channels before their needs are met," said Benny Einhorn, chief marketing officer at NICE. "This means that there is a paradigm shift in how companies and their contact centers need to measure and ensure first contact resolution as well as improve channel containment."

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