• April 28, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Sorry, Could You Please Repeat That?

Americans are balking more at difficult to understand offshore CSRs than with those who have difficulty solving the problem, according to a survey by enterprise feedback solutions provider NetReflector. "The NetReflector Customer Satisfaction Survey," a study of 9,000 people throughout Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, found that 29 percent of U.S. respondents say bad accents is the top complaint. This is followed by rude or condescending agents (18 percent), being kept on hold for too long (17 percent), and having to be switched to another agent (15 percent). The survey found consumers in non-English speaking markets rate other issues as more problematic than a language barrier. For the French and Germans, waiting on the phone is the big problem, while Chinese and Russian respondents don't like condescending or rude agents. "With all the outsourcing that's being done, its not surprising that English-speaking countries' top frustration revolves around the difficulty of understanding customer service representatives," writes Bob Hayes, an independent analyst who covers customer satisfaction. "While outsourcing does have its monetary value, it's important that companies continue to weigh that against the negative impact outsourced contact centers might have on their customers." Hayes says the findings validate a growing trend among companies to find alternatives to counter Americans' increasingly negative attitudes toward the outsourcing of contact center agents. He says online chat, email, and improved IVR systems can help resolve these problems. Other companies are brining frontline customer service operations back home, but leaving their back office processing overseas. That said, finding alternate solutions to circumvent the phone call could prove difficult, especially in the U.S. Over three-quarters of U.S. respondents prefer to contact customer service departments by phone, as opposed to 20 percent for email, 2 percent via chat, and just 1 percent through the mail. Americans cited personal contact as the main reason (48 percent) for preferring to talk with a live agent, followed by "convenience (25 percent) and speed (21 percent). Internationally, 75 percent of Canadians and 74 percent of Australians favor contacting a CSR over the phone. In total, all nine countries preferred interacting over the phone, though the survey found that a surprising 27 percent of Russians--over five times the global average of 5 percent--favored a chat room as a way of asking for help. The poll found that the costs of a bad customer service interaction run consistently high across the globe: 86 percent of respondents would likely or very likely move to a competitor following a poor experience. Customers from Brazil are the most likely, with 91 percent indicating they would switch, compared to 84 percent in the U.K., 82 percent in the U.S., and 81 percent in Russia. Related articles: The Hidden Costs of Outsourcing
F&A Outsourcing: Not the Preferred Choice
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