New research from NewVoiceMedia, a leading global provider of cloud contact center and inside sales technology, reveals that many U.S. businesses lack the contact center capabilities to meet customer expectations. The study, conducted by global market research firm Opinion Matters, exposes significant gaps between customer preferences and reality, and suggests that businesses across many different sectors are missing out on opportunities to enhance their customer contact centers with technology that could Improve the customer experience, help retain existing customers and acquire new business.

Nearly one-third (32 percent) of contact center professionals surveyed indicated that their customers typically need to repeat themselves to more than one agent. Yet previous research¹ from NewVoiceMedia has shown that 49 percent of customers are put off by having to repeat information to multiple call center agents, and 30 percent would take their business elsewhere for that very reason. Similarly, 21 percent of respondents’ call centers are not able to match customers who switch channels with their previous contact, even though 37 percent of customers say being passed around to multiple customer service agents would drive them away from a business. Contact center technology that enables intelligent call routing based on a customer’s phone number or history of interactions in the CRM system reduces these common frustrations.

Businesses have also been slow to adapt to the increasing importance of social media as a customer service channel. Only 5 percent of respondents consider social listening a primary method for customer feedback, but 19 percent of customers complain on social media, and 17 percent flag it as the most effective way to resolve an issue¹. This represents a major disconnect between what customers expect and what they experience.

“Today’s service agents are required to manage a complicated mix of customer calls, email, instant messages, social media, video chat and more,” says Moni Manor, Chief Product Officer at NewVoiceMedia. “This research highlights the increasing complexity of providing quality customer service, and the need for businesses to invest in resources that will allow them to adapt to their customers’ ever-evolving expectations.”

Manual reporting and revenue

The study also suggests that organizations are failing to optimize their contact centers with technology that could make them more efficient. More than half (57 percent) of respondents said they must manually update their CRM record after a call, and they spend an average of 129 minutes a week making those updates (equivalent of two weeks a year). Respondents whose companies had the lowest annual turnover were most likely to say they had to manually update their CRM record (65 percent).

Service success across size and sector

Some sectors consistently had more contact center technology capabilities than others. Industries that did well were human resources and IT/telecom. However, the education; health care; and retail, catering and leisure industries often fell behind.  

Overall, respondents from organizations with the largest workforces were often among the least likely to have advanced contact center capabilities. For instance, respondents from companies with 500 or more employees were less likely than average to have contact center technology that presents them with information about previous customer interactions, can match a channel-switching customer to their previous contact, or automatically transfers callers to the most appropriate agent.

The sheer speed at which technology is evolving may be what is preventing businesses from keeping up with customer expectations, particularly larger organizations, where on-premise technology has more of a foothold and results in a slower rate of progress.

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¹ (Serial Switchers Strikes Again, NewVoiceMedia, 2016)

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