• January 25, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Consumers Are Happier with Contact Centers

Overall consumer satisfaction with contact centers was up in 2012 after taking a slight tumble in 2011, according to CFI Group's annual Call Center Satisfaction Index. The current satisfaction level was 77 on a 100-point scale.

Terry Redding, director of development and delivery at CFI Group, attributes this to "the ongoing development and adoption of such innovative technologies as advanced call handling, scheduling, knowledge management, and voice/text analytics.

"Further, we suspect that as companies have come to realize the importance of the service function to their long-term success, they have raised their game in recruiting and retaining ever more competent managers and business people to oversee this function," he said in the report.

Companies in the banking, insurance, and retail industries saw the greatest improvements during the year, while the personal computer sector experienced a one-point drop.

The 2012 Call Center Satisfaction Index, which involved more than 2,300 participants, also found a growing satisfaction with off-shore contact centers. Though the percentage of U.S. contact centers operated overseas dropped to 9 percent, down from 15 percent in 2008, satisfaction with off-shore operations has grown by 20 percent, due to better training of agents to deal with U.S. consumers and changes in the types of calls that go to agents overseas. In general, overseas contact centers are being tasked with handling simpler requests while the more difficult questions and concerns are being handled by domestic agents.

The index also found that call centers are rapidly incorporating more customer contacts from the Web, email, and other sources, and that social media plays an important role in raising customer satisfaction and likely recommendations. The report notes that methods other than the phone, such as email, Web self-service, chat, and other online techniques, now account for more than 30 percent of customer service engagements. Web self-service and email dominate this mix.

Social media, while still playing a small role, has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Customers who wrote about their contact center experiences on social media sites and then received follow-up from the company rated their overall satisfaction with the contact center experience nearly 20 percent higher than those who received no follow-up. Furthermore, consumers who ranked their likelihood to recommend the company in these cases increased by almost 15 percent.

Survey participants shared their experiences with others 47 percent of the time, up from 45 percent in 2011. Of those, 19 percent shared their experiences through social media outlets, with Facebook postings representing 33 percent of the social media volume.

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