European Businesses Clamour For “Always-On” Customer Service

Ninety-one percent of Europe’s senior business managers say they are more likely to choose a supplier that makes its customer service functions available 24/7, according to independent research commissioned by Avaya. In fact, more than 89 percent of respondents surveyed indicated they are willing to pay premium prices for “always-on” access.

Despite these findings, only 17 percent of European firms surveyed currently offer employees the flexible working options needed to underpin an around-the-clock customer service function of this kind, suggesting they are ill prepared to offer customers the type of service they demand themselves.

The findings come from the independent research report commissioned by Avaya, “Flexible Working in Europe and Russia,” which reflects the attitudes of more than 3,000 workers across Europe.

Not only do customers want 24/7 issue resolution, but survey respondents also said that they want to be able to choose the communication channel for that interaction – email, fax, over the phone, in writing, or in person – and want all of those channels equally serviced. Respondents were very clear about which forms of communication they prefer:

Seventy percent find they get the best service using the telephone to speak to suppliers;

emailing suppliers was considered next most likely to result in top level service (59 percent), closely followed by face-to-face contact (56 percent); and

faxing and formal letters were deemed least likely to get a result (at 18 and 10 percent, respectively)

“The survey results show conclusively that the service gold standard has changed and that businesses need to adapt to accommodate customers’ new expectations and that there is a strong business case for introducing flexible working solutions across Europe as a way to plug this potentially lucrative gap,” said Martyn Lambert, vice president, EMEA Marketing, Avaya. “It is increasingly clear that not only can flexible working help companies attract better employees, retain them longer and foster business agility, it could also help increase the bottom line if flexible working is deployed to enable “always-on” customer service.”

The issue isn’t technology: research also revealed that 58 percent of employees think their company already has the technology and systems in place to enable productive, flexible working for its staff.

“Many companies have already laid the groundwork for a flexible, scalable approach to work. By allowing employees remote and mobile access, companies can create virtual customer service offerings that allow that 24/7 approach that companies are clamouring for. It could be a competitive differentiator for those companies scrambling to push forward in a difficult economic environment.” Lambert said.

For the purposes of this survey, flexible working was defined as a situation in which employees are not expected to work during set hours or from their desks but are instead able to set their own flexible working hours and to work from the location they choose.