Is customer service getting better or worse? That depends on who you ask. Obviously, different customers and different companies in different industries will show results that are all over the map. Overall, though, it seems that companies overall are beginning to get the message about how critical high-level customer experiences are to revenue and the bottom line.
Overall consumer satisfaction with contact centers was up in 2012 after dropping slightly in 2011, according to CFI Group's annual Call Center Satisfaction Index. The current satisfaction level was 77 on a 100-point scale. CFI Group attributes this uptick to technology, specifically “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," said Terry Redding, director of development and delivery at CFI Group, in a statement.
CFI surveyed recent users of customer service functions to analyze the factors that impact satisfaction with call centers. The 2012 survey, involving more than 2,300 participants, found that "non-call" service methods, such as email, Web self-service, chat and other online techniques, now account for more than 30 percent of customer service engagements, indicating the customers are clearly getting more comfortable with using media other than the telephone.
This is the sixth time the company has conducted the study.
Social media is playing a bigger part in the way customers interact with companies, which is presenting something of a challenge for organizations, for good reason: too many companies see social media not as a first-line service channel but rather as a "damage control" mechanism.
The study emphasized how critical social media management is for companies. Customers who posted their experience with a contact center in social media and then received subsequent follow-up via social media concerning their experience rated their final satisfaction with the contact center experience nearly 20 percent higher than those who received no follow-up, according to CFI. Furthermore, consumers who ranked their likelihood to recommend the company in these cases increased by almost 15 percent.
Given that too many companies ignore the social media channels (or service them in a patchwork way), this intelligence is critical, and carries the message “ignore social media at your company’s peril.”
Still, the improving customer scores found by the CFI study indicates that more companies are beginning to “get it,” building the right mix of integrated media channels that allow them to get the best possible grip on individual customer relationships. Hopefully, these more proactive companies can set better examples for the many stragglers in the customer experience quality department.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli