Contact Centers Making Customer Problems Worse - The MSR Group

Companies who overemphasize revenue generation in their contact centers may find their strategies in conflict with customer satisfaction goals. According to The MSR Group 2013 Customer Contact Center Study, the industry as a whole is doing worst at what used to be its primary purpose: taking care of customers.

The study measures customer satisfaction with contact center experiences in multiple industries and identifies areas for improvement. The impact of enhancing the customer experience in this area is significant—previous research by The MSR Group has shown 37% of consumers have been in touch with a contact center within the past two weeks.

Although the 2013 study included contact through many different channels, almost two-thirds of survey respondents chose to call the company. While you may be supporting live chat and building forms on your website to streamline communication, this figure emphasizes the importance of a continued investment in staffing and training representatives to handle calls efficiently and effectively.

Method of Contact

Regardless of the channel customers choose, being prepared for their most likely needs is the first step in providing optimal service. The study found that over 40% of those contacting a company were attempting to resolve a problem or issue. That’s 20 points higher than the next most common reason:  getting information or asking a question (23%). Customers contacting you with a problem require a focus on revenue retention strategies rather than revenue generation.

Reason for Contact

Having customers contact you with problems isn’t always a bad thing—research has shown the way those problems are resolved can actually improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. In fact, happy customers who get their issue resolved tell 4-6 people about their experience (White House Office of Consumer Affairs). But if you’re like most companies, your problem resolution process is in need of improvement.

The MSR Group study found the customers who are least satisfied with their contact center experience are those approaching the company with a problem. This is regardless of what type of communication method is used. Only 42% of those calling about an issue said they were very satisfied with their experience, versus 68% of those making a purchase and 57% of those trying to get information. Contact centers appear to be much more successful at transacting business than handling customer service issues.

Satisfaction with Contact

It’s easy to claim that customers with problems are just difficult to satisfy. However, given the large number of calls and other contacts for this reason, companies would do well to focus more on the service experience. Many of the attributes rated lower by customers dealing with a problem compared to those calling for other reasons could be addressed with procedural adjustments and representative training.

For example, customers contacting a company with a problem are more likely to be put on hold and to say their wait time is unreasonable. Prioritizing these interactions and streamlining processes by passing along customer information if calls are transferred or empowering employees to resolve more situations on their own can improve this experience.

Not surprisingly, much of the way customers perceive their contact center experience comes down to how employees interact with them. Those with problems to resolve rate representatives lower in helpfulness, knowledge, understanding of the reason for the contact and their ability to make things easy. That’s a lot of room for improvement, but the opportunity to do so may come sooner than expected. Unfortunately for these customers, they are also less likely to have their issue resolved at the end of the exchange so you may hear from them again shortly. The next employee in line is likely to bear the brunt of that frustration.

Training, access to information and clear communication of your service expectations to employees are essential for ensuring customers feel they’re being treated well, especially when they’re contacting you because something is wrong.  Going beyond your productivity and up-sell metrics to find ways to improve the customer experience can turn these interactions into a positive experience, not something all parties dread.

If you have questions or would like more information on The MSR Group’s National Contact Center survey, just let us know.

A total of 3,200 consumers participated in The MSR Group’s 2013 Contact Center National Study. All survey participants had personally contacted the customer contact center of any company for any reason within the past two weeks.