Call Centers Have Room for Self-Service Improvement

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Customer Experience
A study of more than 400 call center professionals finds that there is still much work to be done to understand how to make the most of self-service tools.

In the call center, self-service tools are considered valuable to help improve the customer experience while also boosting efficiency. But a study of more than 400 call center professionals finds that there is still much work to be done to understand how to make the most of self-service tools.According to the 2010 Self-Service and the Multichannel Contact Center report from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), 80 percent of respondents say that their customer care operations provide customers self-service opportunities. However, when asked to rate the success of their customer self-service channels, they gave most channels mediocre scores (three out of a scale of one to five). "It has been an eye-opening study," says Layne Holley, ICMI's director of Community Services. "When you consider the investment that companies have made or plan to make in self-service strategies against how they execute these strategies, we see that there's much room for improvement when it comes to ROI and customer satisfaction."

While there are tools in place, there is little connection to the larger customer picture. For example, 44 percent of respondents don't measure customer feedback on their centers' self-service channels. In addition, 21 percent of respondents say they do not measure completion rates for IVR-only calls, and 64 percent don't know if or when a customer has tried to self-serve but then opted for a live rep.

On the efficiency front, only 24 percent of centers using inbound IVR for self-service say they've recognized cost reductions of 11 to 25 percent. Another 22 percent say inbound IVR provided less than 10 percent in cost reductions.

However, some are reaping benefits from self-service. ICMI reports that several call centers reported double-digit improvements, from 11 percent to more than 51 percent increases in customer retention attributed to self-service strategies, but did not reveal how many is considered "several."

In general, however, call center professionals have some work to do to make the most of these tools. Since we here at 1to1 Media focus on customer centricity, my recommendation would be to develop a holistic approach to measurement and the customer experience across the channels. The tools themselves cannot do the work. A comprehensive business and customer strategy behind the tools can go a long way to see more bang for a company's self-service investment buck.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION