Contact Centre Credibility Under Fire

A newly released independent research report – UK Contact Centres and Customer Service – finds that although the contact centres surveyed rank improved customer service as their most important aim, half of them don’t even measure the number of calls it takes to resolve a customer query.

Carried out on behalf of Teasel Performance Management, the report reveals that of those that do measure customer satisfaction, in-house contact centres were much more proactive on overall assessment, with 83% sending out questionnaires; 43% calling customers at random; 43% calculating average call value; and 26% asking customers to stay on the line to complete a brief survey. The most common approach to measuring customer satisfaction (100%) was to listen to a selection of calls and make a judgement

In contrast, outsourced call centres seem only to focus on the basics, with less than half (43%) sending out questionnaires and only a third (29%) carrying out random customer calling. A little over a quarter (29%) calculate average call value; and 14% carry out an online survey. For outsourced contact centres it seems to be more about reporting on call numbers rather than the quality of the call, suggesting that they are focussed on meeting the terms of their SLAs (Service Level Agreements), rather than enhancing the customer experience.

When asked about the relevant importance of particular aspects of the aims of contact centres, the survey found that respondents ranked improving customer service at number one. This was followed by resolving customer problems quickly and efficiently (89%); then reducing cost (72%), and increasing sales (66%). Creating a marketing ‘differentiator’ was cited by just over half (54%).

Yet when asked about the importance of measuring customer satisfaction with contact centres, creating a marketing differentiator did not feature at all, with respondents citing what would be generally considered as hygiene factors. These included reducing time to answer (76%), cutting average wait time (72%), resolving customer needs immediately (69%) and reducing abandoned calls (59%). Rapid access to customer records (45%) and rapid customer identification (45%) were ranked sixth and seventh.

Tim Burfoot, Managing Director of Teasel Performance Management comments:

“The findings highlight that many contact centres say that although customer satisfaction is key to the service they provide, most are only measuring this on the hygiene of the process rather than on the quality of how the call is handled and resolved. This is all very well but contact centres must widen the way in which they track and monitor activities if they are to really understand how they are performing. The overall question, of course, is whether contact centres, outsourced or in-house are monitoring the right things?“

Burfoot continues: “It’s interesting that outsourced contact centres — to which many organisations entrust their brand and reputation — are primarily concerned about meeting SLA criteria, such as the number of calls that should be answered every hour. This attitude puts their clients’ corporate reputation at risk. They might well be fielding a high number of calls but If they are not tracking and reporting on how customer contacts are actually handled, how can clients judge the all-important customer experience?”