Study reveals failing trust in call centre staff

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Consumer trust in call centre agents is at an all-time low as new research has revealed a total lack of belief in staff competence.

According to a survey of 1,000 consumers in the US and UK by BT and Avaya, 70% of consumers believe they often know more about the products and services they’re enquiring about than the contact centre agent dealing with their call.

Additionally, 80% claimed agents struggled to answer their questions whilst 85% believed they’d been put on hold because agents didn’t know what to say, the figures showed.

This disillusionment with the state of customer service presents a significant risk to organisations, said the report, in light of the fact that 78% of respondents admitted they only buy from businesses that make it easy for them to deal with.

Most worrying, the report revealed that almost half of those surveyed believe customer loyalty is a thing of the past. 

Meanwhile, the surveyed also quizzed consumers on their preferred use of channel when dealing with service agents and found an increasing adoption of smartphone apps, video and webchat. The study found a quarter (26%) of people were found to use webchat to communicate with organisations – up by 36% compared with 2010.

Video conferencing also appeared to be finally taking off, with usage up 100% since similar research was carried out in 2010 by BT. According to the figures, Some 13% of the people surveyed use video conferencing at home every week — double the number from 2010 — and 55% would like to use video chat to have their questions answered by contact centre agents.

However, the phone remains the most popular channel with 77% of people having called an organisation in the six months prior to the survey. Additionally, the findings showed that 91% of consumers want organisations to display phone numbers clearly on all channels and 89% say that when things go wrong, there is no alternative to speaking to a real person.

Andrew Small from 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 organisations 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 organisations to use technology to ensure their customers’ calls go to the right agent first time and to connect contact centre 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 organisations are failing to do this but also the danger of poor service in a world where consumer loyalty is a thing of the past.” 

Simon Culmer, MD, UK and Ireland at Avaya, added: “The new challenge for contact centre 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.”

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These are interesting statistics and reflect the results of a research report Synthetix recently conducted of 500 consumers in the US and UK on the importance of multi-channel customer service. According to our research, nine out of ten people now expect to receive consistent information over multiple customer contact channels. Unfortunately our findings also revealed how businesses are failing to meet this expectation. We found 65% of consumers have received inconsistent information when contacting brands via multiple channels, with 74% ranking this kind of poor multi-channel experience as a major annoyance. Effective Knowledge Management is key to resolving this issue. By developing a centralised knowledge-base of information, you can ensure that customers get quick and consistent answers to their questions – through web self-service, from agents in contact centres or through a variety of other channels including mobile, social media or in-store. The ability to constantly up-date the knowledge-base with information on company products and services, ensures contact centre agents are able to provide customers with accurate and timely answers. You can download a copy of our customer service survey here - http://bit.ly/W6SwIL

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Thanks for your comment. It's also worth noting the proliferation of crowdservice initiatives too.

A growing number of people favour communities or forums as the first port of call for answers, and if businesses put the right asnwers into the forum they can help many customers at once, rather than one at a time. It also allows you to tap into the collective knowledge of your customer base too.

Of course, the issue here is that if the knowledge base in the first place was no good for the agent/site then it is not going to be any better for the community!

 

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 I suspect it would be important to ask the right questions here, because the issue is whether the lack of confidence is specific to call centres, or whether it's in fact across the board for all methods of providing customer service. I suspect it is the latter.

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