Convergys Research: Agents Still the Focal Point of Customer Care
But Rapid Growth of Alternate Channels Means Companies Must Excel at Managing the Customer Experience Across Multiple Platforms
Cincinnati; December 13, 2011 – New research from customer relationship management leader Convergys Corporation (NYSE: CVG) reveals that while U.S. consumers still call agents their “go to” resource for customer service, the growing popularity of live Web chat, email, text messaging, self-service Web sites, social media and other new care options is fueling demand for the multichannel service experience.
According to findings from Convergys’ 2011 U.S. Customer Scorecard Research, the majority of U.S. consumers still rank interacting with companies via agents over the phone among their top two preferred channel options for customer service. The next most preferred channel is Web chat. However, the Convergys research reveals that customer channel usage is changing, and U.S. consumers are using alternate channels to get customer service especially on their initial contact with a company. Yet, when a U.S. consumer feels they can’t get what they need quickly via an alternate channel, they turn to an agent for help.
“Companies face a changing and increasingly complex multichannel care environment,” said Igor Sarenac, Convergys vice president. “Although U.S. consumers prefer to speak with an agent, particularly when a follow-up contact is needed, alternative channels are experiencing increased popularity. U.S. companies now have an opportunity to shape the customer experience for a multichannel world where automated self-service, Web-based care and social media play an important part in the service experience.”
The Convergys research found that 73% of U.S. consumers have already used new interaction technologies such as smartphones, tablets and social media accounts. Social media is particularly pervasive—61% of those surveyed have their own Facebook or Twitter account or their own blog. Respondents to the Convergys research survey indicated that one in eight U.S. consumers had used mobile applications or text messaging for customer care in the last six months; 11% had used social media. These numbers are expected to grow, with the younger Millennial generation initially fueling the rise.
To thrive in this environment, companies will need to deploy social media strategies that keep track of content across platforms, monitoring social networks, blogs, forums and traditional media. By using comprehensive analytics to sift through masses of data, companies will be able to discern critical trends and make better-informed decisions on which problems need proactive outreach.
“Because the use of alternate channels will inevitably grow, companies need to do more than shift their attention from one new channel to another,” said Sarenac. “It is essential to excel at managing the customer experience across all channels.”
In the coming weeks Convergys will release further findings from its 2011 U.S. Customer Scorecard Research on personalization and analytics.
Methodology – 2011 Convergys U.S. Customer Scorecard Research
● This is the third year in a row that Convergys has conducted its U.S. Customer Scorecard Research. The research focuses on individuals who have had some type of customer experience in the past six months with two or more of the following industries: banking, credit cards, healthcare insurance, Internet service provider, mobile phone, retail, satellite/cable, technology and telephone.
● Individuals 18 to 74 were eligible for this study, and women and men were nearly evenly represented. 3,514 people responded to the survey.
● We also conducted a survey of employees to explore their perceptions of customers, the customer experience, and the employees’ readiness to provide excellent customer service.
● Employees who fulfilled some type of direct customer service function in one of the nine industries listed above were eligible for the study.
● Both the customer and employee research were conducted via the Internet using an online panel.
● Convergys Corporation (NYSE: CVG) is a global provider of customer management solutions, including proactive service, self-service, and agent-assisted services to optimize the customer experience.
● Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the company helps its clients drive more value from their relationships with their customers, turning everyday interactions into a source of profit and strategic advantage.
● Convergys serves over half of the Fortune 50, is listed on NYSE in the Fortune 1000, and handles more than 2 billion customer interactions per year.
● The business has approximately 70,000 employees in 69 customer contact centers and other facilities worldwide.
● 2010 revenues were $2.2 billion.
● For more information, visit www.convergys.com