IRVING, Texas, March 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Seventy percent of consumers believe they often know more about the products and services they're enquiring about than the contact center agent dealing with their call. That's according to new research from BT and Avaya which found that 80 percent of people thought agents struggled to answer their questions and 85 percent believed they'd been put on hold because agents didn't know what to say.
The failure of service identified by the research presents a significant risk to organizations as 78 percent of consumers say that they only buy from businesses that make it easy for them to deal with and a third believe convenience is more important than price. Additionally, almost half believe customer loyalty is a thing of the past.
The survey, which polled 1,000 consumers in the US and UK, discovered an increased use of smartphone apps, video and webchat in dealings with organizations. Video conferencing seems to be finally taking off, with usage up 100 percent since similar research was carried out in 2010. Some 13 percent of the people surveyed use video conferencing at home every week -- double the number from 2010 -- and 55 percent would like to use video chat to have their questions answered by contact center agents. Webchat is also growing fast, with 26 percent of people using it to communicate with organizations, up by 36 percent compared with 2010.
But the phone remains the most popular customer service channel with 77 percent of people having called an organization in the six months prior to the survey. Indeed, 54 percent had used the phone to call an organization in the month leading up to the survey compared with 56 percent for the same period in 2010 -- indicating that the phone is holding its own despite the growth of alternative contact channels. Over 90 percent (91 percent) of consumers want organizations to display phone numbers clearly on all channels and 89 percent say that when things go wrong, there is no alternative to speaking to a real person.
As smartphone usage, social media and Wi-Fi coverage continue to grow, half of consumers are constantly changing the way they contact organizations. Eighty two percent say they need a range of channels to meet their needs. But many are frustrated with the experience of switching channels as it exposes huge gaps in customer service. In fact, just 17 percent think swapping between channels is easy and gives them a seamless experience and 69 percent of consumers say they're often asked to repeat their account details on the same call.
Andrew Small, vice president BT Contact, BT Global Services, said: "Consumers are more connected and better informed than ever before, so when they do call -- or use another channel such as webchat or video -- they expect to deal with someone who knows what they're talking about. When organizations fail to connect their customers to the right agent, it's not only frustrating for the consumer but also for the staff involved. The solution is for organizations to use technology to ensure their customers' calls go to the right agent first time and to connect contact center staff using collaboration tools to create networked experts who can share their knowledge when needed. This new BT and Avaya research highlights not only that many organizations are failing to do this but also the danger of poor service in a world where consumer loyalty is a thing of the past."
Mark de la Vega, vice president and general manager, contact center applications at Avaya, said: "The new challenge for contact center operators is to build the infrastructure that enables consumers to seamlessly switch between all of the channels they provide to give a truly cohesive and satisfying customer experience. The most significant factor, regardless of channel used, is that consumers reach the right agent equipped with the right knowledge and tools to resolve their issues in a timely and efficient manner."
Many well-known contact center gripes remain with 54 percent of people saying the music and messages on hold often don't provide a good impression of the organization they're calling and 93 percent say that organizations should phone them back when they said they would.
Notes to editors
BT has Avaya Platinum Partner status worldwide and has installed over 100,000 Avaya systems in the last two decades, including over 1,000 contact centers. Through the BT Contact portfolio, BT and Avaya can help organizations use all the communication channels their customers expect in the most integrated and efficient way. Together, they take an end-to-end customer experience management approach, leveraging the resources organizations already have whilst bringing in new, enabling technologies to achieve best practice.
A series of blogs based on the BT and Avaya Autonomous Customer research will be posted to: http://letstalk.globalservices.bt.com/en/ over the coming weeks. Infographics to support the release can be found at: www.bt.com/btcontact.
About the research
Davies Hickman Partners, independent research analysts, carried out the research on behalf of BT and Avaya. The source material was provided through an online survey of 1,000 consumers, with 500 based in the US and 500 in the UK. Age and sex profiles were evenly distributed across the survey to create a representative sample of the population in both countries.
BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.
In the year ended 31 March 2012, BT Group's revenue was £18,897m with profit before taxation of £2,445m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com
Avaya is the worldwide leader in solutions for business collaboration and communication. The company provides Unified Communications, Contact Centers, Networking solutions and related services for companies of every size around the world. For more information: www.avaya.com
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