Contact Centers Remain the Dominant Service Channel

Consumers still prefer the phone as their channel of choice for customer service.
Customer Service

Contact center teams normally act with the best intentions, as agents aspire to serve and satisfy consumers quickly and efficiently. But, as evolving customer behaviors and emerging technologies begin to make waves, contact center leaders must reassess current offerings to ensure that their organizations can weather this perfect storm of change.

ICMI's "Smarter Service for the Connected Consumer: Delivering Customer Experience Excellence in the Contact Center" report reveals what contact center leaders perceive as vital for effective operations and how willing they are to make necessary changes for continued success. Conducted in partnership with inContact, the survey polled 576 respondents to determine how contact centers operate within today's ecosystem and what leaders believe to be critical for future growth.

The following statistics demonstrate current contact center behaviors and perceptionsto underscore which measures are necessary for increased customer service satisfaction:

  • Consumers frequently interact with contact centers before placing their orders or making their purchases (66 percent), during the checkout or order process (54 percent), or prior to receiving their order (32 percent).
  • Phone (97 percent) and email (87 percent) remain the top channels for agent interactions, but social media (41 percent) and online chat (36 percent) continue to gain traction within the contact center.
  • Leaders believe that 1-800 numbers to live reps (78 percent), online self-service (70 percent), and email (69 percent) are the most important methods of communication to have available. Yet, while 1-800 numbers to live reps (57 percent) and online self-service (56 percent) are perceived to be the quickest ways for customers to have their needs met, email (37 percent) and social networks (33 percent) remain the slowest service methods.
  • Contact centers use interaction data and metrics to identify areas for customer satisfaction improvement (45 percent), manage overall agent performance (42 percent), and identify customer trends (39 percent).
  • While many contact centers don't collect customer preferences for channels of interaction (65 percent), many use customer preferences to route customers to the appropriate channel (67 percent) and segmentation data to route customers to the proper agent (53 percent).
  • Overall, the majority of contact center leaders use customer feedback data to improve escalation procedures in their organizations (54 percent), while also empowering their contact center managers (76 percent) and agents (64 percent) with real-time key performance metrics.
  • Both consumers and contact center leaders believe email (93 percent and 92 percent respectively) and online self-service (87 percent and 89 percent) are the most important channels for companies to support. However, both agree (89 percent and 70 percent) that companies need to work harder to provide improved CX.

Key takeaway: When dissatisfied, both consumers (81 percent) and contact centers (60 percent) prefer assistance from actual representatives. Speaking to a person allows the customer to more clearly state their problem with the company to communicate and more quickly find resolution. Therefore, leaders must align employee skills to the needs of the customer. For long-term success, leaders must understand and balance the needs of every stakeholder involved and ensure that every person, process, and tool delivers upon the mounting expectations of the connected consumer. Data offers the insight necessary to establish conclusions and generate ideas so agents may optimize performance and maximize satisfaction. Ultimately, it's this understanding that enables contact centers to grow their strategies and offer effective support that enhances customer experience and brand reputation.