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Digitalisation, integrated channels and self-service, the potential for intricate personalised customer journeys has never been so varied. But what do customers really think about the services on offer today and the contact centres that provide them? To find out just that, the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA), supported for the second year by Odigo, has explored customer opinion in their Voice of the Contact Centre Consumer research.
In March 2022 Stephen Yap, Research Director at the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) set out to collect the opinions of 2,004 UK customers on contact centre services and culture. For this, the second Odigo-supported Voice of the Contact Centre Consumer research project, the survey blended both old and new questions. This blog recaps the trends and new discoveries.
‘Would you say that customer service overall today has improved, worsened or stayed the same?’
28% said service has improved
30% thought the opposite
After another 12 months of pandemic-related difficulties, this snapshot of general customer opinion was not dissimilar to the picture in 2021. Although at first glance, the 2022 opinions are slightly worse than in 2021, there is more to it than first appears. When the responses were grouped according to age, a marked variation in attitude became apparent: Twice the number of those aged 18-34 believe service is improved compared to those aged 55+.
The opposite was true when it came to the opinion that customer service levels are declining. Double the number of 55+ think service was worse than 12 months ago, compared to the 18-34 age group. An intriguing way to set the stage for the rest of the data, and one which has to be considered when examining the rest of the findings.
In 2021, after numerous COVID lockdowns, one of the top questions in the minds of many was how customers were adapting to digital journeys and self-service. The full 2021 report is available for download here. Considering the findings on general customer opinion, did the digital acceptance demonstrated carry over into 2022?
Despite a great deal of willingness to use self-service, patterns in the data suggest the development of new customer preferences and more discerning attitudes to how they engage. For some self-service query types, customer opinion showed increased acceptance. For example, self-serving a delivery-related query increased by 5%. Other needs or contexts had decreased levels of self-service, like complaints or refund inquiries. Interaction complexity and urgency may well be the driving factors in these changes. Maintaining the appeal of these services, which are convenient for both customers and businesses, means intelligent deployment. There are certainly a range of things to consider when planning what to bot and what not to bot. Services need to be fit for purpose, either because they introduce simplification, speed or satisfaction. Otherwise, the result is not great customer journeys, simply diversions.
Customer service remains a key business differentiator, but the nature of the customer-brand relationship could be changing. With widespread dialogue on values, finding meaning at work and well-being, the 2022 research lifted the lid on customer opinion with a new set of questions:
What the CCMA discovered about corporate citizenship and the perception of the importance of agent roles in the community suggests the growing significance of morality and social responsibility. To respond appropriately, a lot rests on embedding positive culture and corporate social responsibility within organisations, and communicating it consistently with the right messaging. Savvy consumers are now much more likely to spot when values and actions are misaligned, so organisations really need to mean what they say.
There were also other findings to suggest organisations need to be mindful of reputation and best practice. It seems that through strategy, experience or positive self-promotion, some sectors do much better than others in the eyes of the public. The banking sector in particular should be commended for some fantastic results when it comes to public perception of their services. Overall, although there may be things customers would like to change, they can see the hard work and dedication of frontline agents and that is cause for celebration.
The rising opinion and customer respect for agents is a big boost for the culture of professionalism and career mentality within contact centres. However, success seems patchy, with gaps between sectors and within customer journeys. Appropriate technology can bridge these gaps and support service staff. With great communication and the right channel mix, resolution increases and conversations around values can help build relationships which outlast contract periods or the next isolated interaction.
Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions create the seamless integrated omnichannel interactions that contact centres need to provide modern efficient service. More than that, analytics and data visualisation mean customer journeys and working processes can be monitored for both pain points and success.
History has made it clear that any customer experience strategy needs to be adaptive. If you aren’t measuring your success, you can’t manage it. Intelligent application of technology can empower businesses so they’re no longer bystanders to customer opinion. In the full research report, Stephen Yap and other industry professionals also add their observations and interpretations to the findings. Are you interested in all the insights?
Download the complete Voice of the Contact Centre Consumer
If you want to listen to Stephen Yap present the findings himself, join us at the Communication Technology Expo.
Research Revealed: Voice of the Contact Centre Consumer
Tuesday 21th March 12:30 – 1:00 on Keynote Stage 1
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