Robert Allman, General Manager, Customer Interactive Solutions in Australia, comments on the Australian and New Zealand findings from the 2011 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report.
Bye-Bye Contact Centre – Hello Customer Management Centre
In the global findings, 64% are already handling Internet, with 40% managing SMS interactions and a quarter offering web chat – all via the contact centre. This year’s Report also reveals that social media interactions are high on the agenda of contact centre businesses. Just over 18% of research participants reporting they’re already managing these interactions, with 32% say they’re planning to do so over the next two years.
In ANZ the figures are lower across the board – 58% for Internet, 29% SMS and 13% web chat. Our social media figures are also lower, at 13%, with another 21% planning to manage these interactions over the next two years. It’s no great surprise that we are lagging behind in ANZ. When you look at our install base for IP telephony being much lower than global averages, the ability of our ANZ contact centres to take advantage of a consolidated IP architecture and a converged voice, video and data infrastructure to manage multiple interaction channels will be limited.
The global research results also show that this year’s top priority commercial driver for contact centres is improving service. Meanwhile, the top priority issue affecting contact centres across the globe is the drive to encourage customers to use these broader self-service channels.
Both of these findings are consistent with the ANZ data. However, for ANZ contact centres, process optimisation or automation came in a close second behind encouraging use of self-service. That’s not surprising, and its great to see ANZ organisations being aware that process optimisation and automation are critical to the success of any customer self-service initiatives.
Better Self-Service Options, Trained Agents on the Cards in Contact Centres
In the global findings, some 60% of organisations said they placed more importance on the customer experience over cost reduction, with nearly 41% reporting they recognised the value of providing customer choice via multiple self-service channels.
The good news is that in ANZ, the emphasis placed on customer satisfaction is higher than the global average – at 64% – while the figure for multiple channels is roughly the same as the global statistics. For ANZ contact centres, reducing operational costs is still the second most important issue, but figures at 48%, much lower than the global average of 57%. However, we are spending less time on agent training than the global averages, and our agent attrition rates in ANZ are also much higher than the global statistics.
On first glance, you’d think the fact that the lesser importance of operational costs as compared to customer satisfaction would be a good thing for ANZ contact centres, but when you consider our five key performance indicators for contact centres – percentage of calls answered in under 10 seconds; average percentage of calls abandoned; first call resolution rate; average speed to answer; and average time taken to respond to customer message – ANZ returned uniformly worse results than the global averages. Additionally, a lower percentage of ANZ contact centres measure customer satisfaction as compared to the global average.
However (and bizarrely) our ANZ average customer satisfaction score is 85.6%, which is higher than the global average of 82.1% and places it in the best practice range. I can only put that down to the fact that ANZ customers are much easier markers than their counterparts in other regions. To me, it looks like we are paying lip service to customer satisfaction in ANZ, and our contact centres should still be doing a lot more to improve the customer experience.
Overall, the fact that our ANZ contact centres are lagging behind global benchmarks in terms of technology adoption and consolidation, and as a consequence, interaction channel convergence, means that we are putting too much pressure on our contact centre agents. This is leading to higher attrition rates and, ultimately, will continue to put downward pressure on our customers’ contact centre experience.
General Manager, Customer Interactive Solutions
Dimension Data Australia