The Spoken 2015 Call Center Report: Telephone Wins and IVR Loses

Spoken | December 1, 2014

How do customers really use call centers in 2015?

Organizations are constantly tracking call center metrics and striving to improve the customer experience across the brand. But how does the average customer feel about contacting a call center? What are the fears, expectations and key complaints, and how do those affect the customer experience?

The metrics that the call center industry applies to evaluate success are often quite dissimilar to the metrics the customers themselves would use to rate interactions. In the Spoken 2015 Call Center Report, we asked customers who use call centers a series of questions about their perceptions, practices and attitudes towards their past call center experiences. Likewsie, we evaluated the data and offer key recommendations for organizations and call center managers to align the contact center experience with the modern caller’s expectations.

Organization and methodology

The Spoken 2015 Call Center Report surveyed 727 call center users, 47%  female and 53% male, all living in the United States. The report is addresses three key areas of the customer experience:

  1. Key drivers of positive and negative experiences The fundamental complaints and how to update your call center to address them
  2. How customers share their call center experiences How, when and where customers share positive and negative call center experiences
  3. Customer channel preferences Which channels customers prefer, why and how channel availability affects brand loyalty

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Key drivers of positive and negative experiences

Q5 why negative bar graphWhile customers love to complain about call centers, 48% of respondents reporting having positive contact center experiences. Key findings:

  • Empowered agents drive positive experiences The key driver of a positive call center experience, with 70% of respondents ranking it first or second, was the agent’s ability to resolve the issue.
  • Inefficient IVRs drive negative experiences The key driver of a negative call center experience, with 77% of respondents ranking it first or second, was having to repeat responses in the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
  • Lack of Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI) drives negative experiences A second driver of negative experiences, with 53% ranking it first or second, was having to repeat information  already given to the IVR to the agent.

To address these issues, develop a strong recruiting, reward and training program to empower frontline agents for success. Additionally, implementing a natural language IVR to avoid re-asks and opt-outs and implementing CTI to populate the agent’s screen with information collected from the IVR will improve the drivers of negative caller experiences.

How customers share their experiences

It turns out that misery does indeed love company. Key findings:

  • Good or bad, we tell a friend 78% of customers will share a positive experience with others, while 91% will share a negative one
  • Misery loves social company 50% will share a negative experience on social media, but only 32% will share a positive one

To address these issues, implement customer satisfaction surveys, which can serve to both reinforce positive experiences and vent negative ones. Track brand mentions on social media and have a strategy to address both public compliments and public critiques.

Customer channel preferences

While multichannel (or omnichannel or cross-channel) is the buzzword, the vast majority of consumers not only still reach for the telephone first but actually prefer it.

Firs channel graph

  • Consumers prefer the phone 77% of customers rank phone as their first or second channel choice
  • Email is the second most popular channel 59% of customers rank email as their first or second channel choice
  • Preference (not speed) drives first channel choice Only 27% reported that they chose the phone or email because it was faster; 47% cited personal preference for the channel choice
  • Preference and proximity of device drive second channel choice While the assumption is that more people reach for their mobile phones for service, the first channel choice responses do not support that assumption. However, more people listed proximity of device (26% versus 18% for first choice) as driving their second channel preference.
  • Channel preference drives brand loyalty 83% of customers become more likely to switch service if their preferred channel isn’t supported

So while supporting customers in a consistent manner across all channels is important, it’s justified to allot resources primarily to phone and email support channels in order to bring the biggest rewards in terms of customer satisfaction.

The Spoken 2015 Call Center Report is available for free download now!

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