Contact Centers Are Still Popular, but Satisfaction Remains Mediocre

darts missing bull's eye
Customer Service
To improve customer satisfaction, a new report recommends companies prioritize people – particularly those on the front line.

Despite industry efforts to make improvements, customer satisfaction with contact center interactions haven’t changed in the past year, leaving lots of room for improvement. According to new research from the CFI Group, the 2017 Contact Center Satisfaction Index, consumer satisfaction with call center interactions scored an overall 68 out of 100, the same as last year. Property and casualty insurance contact centers beat the average with a score of 75, five points higher than last year. CFI credits this to more effective and empowered associates, two leading factors the group believes contribute to increased satisfaction. Telecom service centers also increased from 63 to 65.

Despite this improvement, the four remaining industries analyzed decreased in satisfaction. Cable/satellite TV scored the lowest at 61, a three-point decrease from 2016. Banks/credit unions and retail dropped one point each to 74 and 66 respectively, and health insurance went from 67 to 64. Even with buzz surrounding digital channels, the report states that 80 percent of all customer contacts still happen via voice. Satisfaction in this channel is critical to maintaining strong customer engagement, even as digital channels grow.

To improve customer satisfaction, the authors recommend that companies prioritize people – particularly those on the front line. "Companies should focus operational efforts on giving front-line representatives the tools, the training, and the authority to solve customer problems," said CFI Group CEO Sheri Petras in a press release. "Contact center executives must resist the urge to think of the contact center as a self-service channel, and embrace the role of the contact center as an opportunity for customer assistance. Making it easier for customers to reach a human who can solve their problem is paramount to satisfaction."

Here are some other contact center issues to consider, based on the report findings:

Keep it simple from the beginning
According to the report, 63 percent of customers try online self-service first to solve their issue. The report indicates that ordering, shipments, and website tech assistance can easily be handled through self-service, and that companies should focus on steps to make those interactions “effortless and simple.”

A good example can be found in Microsoft’s Xbox gaming division. It keeps its self-service knowledgebase updated with trending topics and ready chat assistance. For example, users can review information on the site to help transition to different systems, setup, and manage add-ons. Microsoft’s support staff excels in gathering a large library of common issues and queries that can be accessed easily. It gives options that resolves issues and can leave a customer satisfied without a single call.

Solve problems the first time
There is a 54-point increase in satisfaction when a customer’s problem is solved on the first call and another 34 points when it’s around 10 minutes, the report states. Customers are busy, and they want to get their issue out of the way. So, efficiency is key. A customer won’t be impressed with how many steps you offer toward a solution if it takes up their precious time. Solve the issue in one interaction so they can hang up satisfied and move on.

Leave a lasting (and shareable) impression
Don’t forget about the post-engagement phase. The report states that 41 percent of customers will share the experience your company left on them. So, make it a story that you would love to have spread. The report encourages companies to be real people, reach out to social media where every sort of interaction takes place. According to the research, 95 percent of people enjoy being acknowledged by the company after an interaction.

Fast food giant, Wendy’s does a superb job in staying in touch with its 1.97 million followers on Twitter. By retweeting funny memes and posts created by customers, it shows that it’s in touch with reality. The customers know that there is a real person behind the screen. While contact centers may want to take a more professional approach, it is important not to always remain too serious. After all, people go to social media to take a break from the rigidness of everyday life.

Keep up the momentum
If there is anything to take from CFI Group’s findings, it’s that like all businesses, there will be ups and downs. Not everyone is going to be satisfied, and the customer experience industry must keep evolving to meet customer expectations. Your customers’ experiences are not just in the present, made up of one interaction. How you shape their experience before, during, and after they reach the contact center will create, a happier future for your customers and your business.