CFI Group has just released its 2016 Contact Center Satisfaction Index, and the results aren't pretty.
The report reveals that consumer satisfaction with contact centers has reached its lowest point since the Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) was created in 2007.
The latest report covers the 2015 year and shows an overall score of 68 on a 100 point scale. That's down from 72 in 2014.
The main culprit?
Contact centers are making it hard for their agents to deliver outstanding customer service. This post dives into some of the specific reasons why and suggests some solutions.
CCSI Report Overview
Let's first take a look at the CCSI and how its compiled.
CFI Group surveyed more than 3,000 consumers who had interacted with a contact center in the past 30 days. The survey asked people to rate their overall satisfaction and also a series of follow-up questions designed to help identify the key drivers of those satisfaction ratings.
The process is modeled after the American Customer Satisfaction Index. You can download the entire report or keep reading this post for some highlights.
Top Dissatisfaction Drivers
Three dissatisfaction drivers jumped out immediately:
- Contact Process
- Policies & Procedures
Here's a little more detail on each one.
This was the biggest driver of customers' dissatisfaction with contact centers. One major issue was the time customers felt it took to resolve an issue.
Self-service plays a big role in the perception of time spent on an issue.
In theory, self-service is great because customers can help themselves faster than by contacting a live agent and companies can spend far less money per contact.
Unfortunately, self-service doesn't always work well. When it fails, customers now have to spend extra time moving to a second channel such as phone, email, or chat. Now, it feels like the issue is taking too long to resolve.
There's a stark difference in overall satisfaction between customers who are successful and unsuccessful when first attempting to use self-service.
Poor self-service and an annoying IVR (more on that later) can put customers in a sour mood when they reach a live a gent. A 2015 study by Mattersight concluded that 66 percent of customers who call a contact center are frustrated before then even speak to a customer service representative.
This means customer service agents often serve customers who are upset about two things - their original problem and the process required to solve it.
Action item: Test your self-service channels
- Employ user testing to check for self-serve problems
- Review the topics customers search for on your website (and the results they get)
- Make self-serve options as convenient as possible
Policies & Procedures
Many customer service agents are hamstrung by ineffective policies. There was a large dip in consumer satisfaction in this category:
A 2015 research report from ICMI found that 74 percent of contact centers admit to hindering their agents from providing the best service possible.
Part of the challenge is contact center leaders don't know how to empower their agents. Many contact centers have tightly controlled systems that work for normal situations, but quickly unravel when there's an unusual situation.
Action Item: Expand Empowerment
Make a list of the top 10 issues that require an escalation. Identify the processes, procedures, and authority that agents need to resolve these without escalating the contact. You can use this empowerment guide to help you.
Consumers were least satisfied with IVR or Interactive Voice Response. IVR refers to those annoying phone menus that make it hard for a customer to reach a live person.
There are a few reasons for this.
One stems from a primary reason contact centers use IVR in the first place. The aim is often to encourage a customer who calls to solve their problem via self-service without routing the call to a more expensive live agent.
The problem here is customers are often calling because they've already tried self-service and failed.
That 2015 Mattersight study I referenced earlier found that only 28 percent of customers use the phone as their primary channel. That means most people would rather solve their issue another way. They don't want to call.
The 2014 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer took a deeper look and discovered that the complexity of the issue influences a customer's decision to call. Not surprisingly, customers are more likely to call when an issue is more complex.
IVR is best suited for handling simple issues, the very type of issue customers least want to call to resolve.
So, the typical customer calls because he or she has a complex issue or has already tried and failed to use another channel. Then, they encounter IVR, which feels like a giant roadblock standing in the way of a successful resolution.
From the CCSI study:
- 64 percent of callers encountered an IVR system
- 1 in 5 tried to use the IVR, but it failed to solve their issue
- The overall failure rate for IVR was 32 percent
That last figure should be eye opening: IVR fails 32 percent of the time. Can you imagine subjecting your customers to any other product that failed that frequently?!
Action item: Get rid of your IVR system.
Customers are calling because they want to talk to a human. Don't make that difficult. Invest your resources in building better self-service systems that will prevent more calls to begin with.
Customer-focused organizations make it easy for their agents to deliver exceptional customer service. Here are a few examples from this post highlighting the next wave of customer service stars.
- REI's 100 percent satisfaction guarantee makes returns and exchanges easy.
- Safelite Autoglass has a live person answer their customer service line (no IVR)!
- Zendesk empowers robust customer communities to enable effective self-help.