There are some big gaps between what contact center leaders believe and their customers actually perceive.
The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and inContact asked contact center leaders to respond to the same set of survey questions that consumers were asked in an earlier study. The earlier, consumer study was conducted by Harris and inContact. The answers from the two groups were then compared.
The ICMI and inContact report, Smarter Service For The Connected Customer, reveals several areas where contact center leaders misunderstand their customers.
Here are a few highlights. You can also purchase the full report here.
Gap #1: More Selling Than Service
Many contact centers are too eager to sell.
Contact center leaders and customers were asked whether companies put more effort into selling than they do providing excellent customer service.
- 80% of Customers say Yes
- 12% of Contact Centers say Yes
Perhaps the most famous example is Comcast. They've been criticized for turning every cancellation request into an annoying encounter with an aggressive salesperson. The worst example might have been a cancellation call from July 2014 that went viral. It turns out that Comcast's internal guide for handling cancellations is really a manual on aggressive sales tactics.
Seriously, contact centers! Stop with the selling. If you want to sell more, you need to serve more.
Gap #2: Poor Service Is Expensive
Contact center leaders can be oblivious to the impact of poor service.
One survey question focused on whether customers were likely to switch companies after a bad customer service experience.
- 86% of Customers say Yes
- 19% of Contact Centers say Yes
That's a pretty big gap. Perhaps contact center leaders expect their customers to adopt some form of customer service Stockholm Syndrome.
There's no shortage of research to suggest that poor customer service is costly. A recent infographic from the Temkin Group highlighted several key areas where a poor experience can hurt the bottom line:
- Customers buy more from companies with good service
- Customers are more forgiving when companies generally provide good service
- Customers trust companies more when they provide good service
Gap #3: Relationships
Customers despise having to tell their story over and over to different people. They'd much rather have a single point of contact to help them the whole way.
Companies don't seem to realize this.
One survey question asked customers whether they expect to continue talking to the same agent when they switched from online chat to phone.
- 64% of Customers say Yes
- 20% of Contact Centers say Yes
Another survey question asked customers whether they expect to be able to call back the same company representative if multiple contacts are required.
- 67% of Customers say Yes
- 24% of Contact Centers say Yes
There's some science behind this. My own research suggests that customer satisfaction increases significantly when customers know an agent by name.
So, why the disconnect?
One of the more telling statistics from the report was this: only 39.2 percent of contact centers actually use the data they collect to identify customer trends.
Which begs the question, what's the point of having so much data in the contact center if you're not using it? Many contact centers are data rich and insight poor.
There are clearly opportunities to get to know customers better and improve service. The real issue is whether contact center leaders will do it.