Contact Centers Look to Web

Many contact center managers may be turning to the Web as a viable support channel but telephone still plays a large role in overall customer care strategy. This is the finding of a recent report by market researcher Yankee Group. The report, titled "Web-Based Customer Care: The Gradual Move to Second- and Third-Generation Solutions," also states that over the next couple of years, contact center spending will be aimed at implementing best-of-breed solutions and augmenting critical channels, especially Web self-service capabilities. Forty eight percent of the study's customer care managers regard the self-service knowledge bases and the Web as one of their highest budget priorities, according to Devon Shea, a Customer Relationship Management strategies analyst at Yankee Group and the author of the report. But those implementations will have to be very tactical since 48 percent of the 200 surveyed said their budgets would be flat for 2002. Eighty percent of the respondents say they are already using the Web to deliver some level of support. While the Boston-based researcher concluded that the sophistication of current Web solutions varies, Web-based technology presents businesses with new opportunities for customer interaction. As a result, organizations have been beefing up technology solutions to deliver integrated customer care, according to the study. Voice over IP and chat are the next tools expected to be deployed over the next 12 to 18 months, respondents say. Twenty-three percent of the respondents cite a growing interest in VoIP, while 19 percent named chat as a viable solution. Shea also states that as support managers upgrade to more sophisticated and scalable platforms, they may be looking at several different solutions providers. Fifty nine percent of the respondents said they intended to deploy a best-of-breed strategy going forward. In the past, nearly 67 percent of the first generation solutions were built by internal IT staffs and 20 percent built by CRM vendors. The report says this reflects the lack of maturity of early Web-care solutions. And users confidence in vendors as 40 percent of those participating in the study say they have little confidence in CRM vendors and system integrators because of past track records of expensive, complex and incomplete implementations over the last few years. Another conclusion of the report is that customer care managers see internal coordination of the Web and phone-based initiatives as a key goal for the next two years.
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