The rise of Generation Y and what it means to the customer experience
Across the world customer satisfaction is getting worse – and younger generations are saying goodbye to the phone channel. These are just two of the headline findings from Dimension Data’s 2013/14 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report.
The 16th edition of the report is based on a worldwide survey of 817 companies in 11 industries and 79 countries. It paints a bleak picture of the state of the market. Customer satisfaction scores have dropped to an average of 77.6%, while First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates are now at 73.1% - meaning more than a quarter of customers are not having their issues solved the first time they interact with an organisation. Both of these metrics have fallen for the fourth year in a row, despite the levels of investment in contact centres.
There’s also a channel shift occurring around the globe. The phone is now the third choice of members of Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000) when they want to communicate with a company, behind electronic messaging and smartphone apps. While consumers in Generation X (1961-1989) still rank the phone as their number one contact mechanism, the gap is narrowing compared to other channels. So how are companies looking to improve the experience for customers of all generations? There’s an obvious shift away from voice only call centres towards multichannel contact centres, but the study found that agents still don’t have access to unified resources, such as a single view of the customer – no doubt contributing to poor customer satisfaction.
Essentially the report believes that many organisations are still operating channels as separate silos, rather than providing the cross-channel and omnichannel experience that customers demand. This frustrates consumers, pushes up costs and prevents agents from delivering excellent service.
Reading the study, there are three key points I’d pull out that chime with my own experiences:
1 Web chat is a necessity, not a nice to have
The number of web chat deployments increased by 27.2% over the last 12 months, with 50.6% of contact centres either offering or planning to offer web chat. Given the ability this channel has to deliver cost-effective, personal service and its growing appeal to consumers, web chat’s time has definitely come.
2 Isolated technology islands are pushing up costs
Companies recognise the need to lighten the burden on agents, aiming to shift nearly a third (32.6%) of contacts to self-service systems. However many are implementing these through a piecemeal, channel by channel approach, leading to a plethora of systems and silos. What is needed is a centralised approach that collects knowledge and makes it available across every channel in a consistent, accurate manner.
3 Complexity is driving agents away
Front line agents are leaving contact centres in their droves. Agent attrition is running at 26% of the workforce – that’s over a quarter of staff leaving, every year. Additionally, agents are three times more likely to be absent from work compared to their managers. A lack of support and resources to help cope with the move to multichannel is blamed for this accelerating trend – so organisations need to listen to their agents and provide the technology, knowledge and training to help them meet changing customer needs.
The Dimension Data report shows that organisations face significant changes when it comes to delivering the service that consumers require. Investment needs to be targeted to provide the cross-channel experience that customers are demanding and agents need to be armed with the right tools and skills if they are to successfully do their jobs. Consequently the next twelve months will be crucial for many contact centres as they evolve to meet a changing business environment.