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Survey Looks At Reasons for Contact Center Self-Service

December 23, 2010
By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

A recent survey of over 400 contact center professionals presented by inContact  shows, company officials say, “accelerating spending on self-service, primarily to reduce operating costs and increase customer satisfaction.”

Note the order of “reduce operating costs” and “increase customer satisfaction.” That’s right. The research finds that low success rates still bedevil contact centers, as many survey respondents admit that they’re “still searching for optimal strategies for self-service.”

The survey was conducted by ICMI and sponsored by inContact, which sells on-demand call center software. “Self-service options, including inbound and outbound interactive voice response and Web-based tools, are often the first touch point a customer has with a company,” said Mariann McDonagh, inContact Chief Marketing Officer. “When executed well, self-service enables customers to resolve issues on their own and via the channel that they most prefer. The trick is implementing the solutions effectively.”

In September TMC’s (News - Alert) Anil Sharma wrote that inContact “announced enhancements to the inContact platform. Officials with inContact said that the company’s cloud-based platform has been expanded to include a new predictive dialer, quality monitoring and screen recording.”

More than three quarters of respondents surveyed currently offer self-service and, overall, contact centers plan to spend more on these technologies in the coming years, primarily to realize operating cost reductions (83 percent) and meet customer demand for service options (74 percent).

However, what the survey showed was that “the current strategies fail to truly address and meet customer needs and realize projected savings in operating costs.” The key, McDonagh said, “is to balance agent-managed and self-service options. Self-service makes perfect sense for simple tasks like account balance and hours of operations inquiry. It sounds easy, but it’s difficult to effectively manage that balancing act.”

Much of the problem might simply be that companies aren’t sure exactly what’s going on with their self-service. More than one-fifth (21 percent) of respondents said they do not measure completion rates for IVR-only calls, and an astounding 64 percent of respondents don’t know if or when a customer has tried to self-serve but then opted for a live rep.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Chris DiMarco

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