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Global Consumer Study Reveals that Customer Service Remains Critical to Profitability


Is customer service getting better or worse? Despite the conventional wisdom of customer “no-service” as the norm, over 61 percent of consumers see call centers as doing a better job than three years ago. An international survey of more than 4,300 consumers found that, despite some continued pockets of frustration, 23 percent of all consumers found their experience “significantly better,” and an additional 38 percent felt it was “somewhat better” while only 12 percent thought it was worse.

In addition, the survey revealed that customer service is a critical driver of profitability and satisfaction, with more than 75 percent of consumers saying they would give more business to a company based on a great contact center experience. And, 50 percent of consumers say the last time they stopped doing business with a company was partly or wholly due to a poor customer service experience.

The survey, which measures consumers likes, dislikes and frustrations with contact centers and automated customer service systems, was commissioned by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc., an Alcatel-Lucent company (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU). Its findings indicate that, while investments in technology and self-service are starting to pay off, consumers increasingly want better multi-channel service, through SMS, e-mail and other new media.

The Biggest Causes of Customer Frustration
In 2003, Genesys created the pioneer study in customer frustration and has followed in each of the past four years. Globally, the major sources of customer frustration are consistent with findings over the past four years:

-Long hold times - 67 percent of consumers are frustrated by long hold times, and 88 percent would prefer to receive a call-back in 10 minutes than to be on hold for that long.
-Poor automation - 57 percent of consumers are frustrated by IVRs with too many or incorrect options and 76 percent of consumers feel that companies are pushing them to use self-service systems instead of talking to live people.
-Customer Repetition - 52 percent of consumers are frustrated by having to repeat information they’ve already provided.

“Given the direct impact of contact center performance on customer loyalty,” said Wes Hayden, president and CEO of Genesys, “successful companies must take every opportunity to connect with their customers to create a positive experience. Customer service is improving, but the expectations of consumers are going up as well. As the world market becomes more competitive, the most successful companies are ones that make the best use of every channel and every interaction. Companies should engage their customers with a well-planned and executed contact center strategy.”

Survey respondents indicated that a good way to create a positive experience is to address consumers’ basic frustrations. For example, the survey results indicated that companies can eliminate long hold times by including a call-back option in their IVR systems. Rather than waiting on hold, 74 percent of customers would like to have the option to ask for a call back when they feel the wait would be too long.

Emerging Trends -SMS, Instant Messaging, e-mail, Proactive Contact
The hottest new emerging trends in customer service are the desire for proactive contact and the need for better support for a broader set of communication channels, such as SMS, web chat and e-mail. When it comes to new channels, 86 percent of consumers want e-mail communication and more than 45 percent of consumers would like e-mail to become their primary communication vehicle. Speed of communication is critical, however, with 21 percent expecting a one hour response time - up from 6 percent with that expectation in 2003. An additional 17 percent of consumers expect an e-mail response within 4 hours, and 47 percent within 24 hours. In addition, 19 percent would like web chat (instant messaging) and 17 percent want SMS text messages.

Surprisingly, over 89 percent of consumers would like to receive proactive communications from companies, by phone or text, to keep them informed about service delivery and/or other products and services that may be of interest to them. Proactive communications offer a way of creating a positive image with customers. According to the survey, 87 percent of customers would have a more positive opinion of a supplier after receiving a courtesy call to thank them for their business or to ask about their satisfaction; however, only 43 percent have received such a call.

Substantial Regional Differences
While consumers agreed on most core customer service issues, substantial, regional differences are emerging that offer some of the most striking findings from the survey. Europeans are 10 times more likely to want SMS text messages sent to their mobile phones than Americans (21 percent for Europe versus 2 percent for the U.S.). Similarly, 19 percent of consumers from Asia Pacific and 7 percent from Japan also want SMS messages sent to them. Meanwhile, more than 28 percent of U.S. consumers want instant web chat capabilities, compared to 19 percent in Europe, 18 percent in APAC and 11 percent in Japan.

More detailed regional findings are available from Genesys contacts within each country. To access the U.S. Genesys Customer Experience Survey, please contact


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