CFI Group's Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) finds customer satisfaction with company contact centers dropped a whopping 10 percent in 2013. With a score of 69 (on a 100 point scale), the 2013 score reflects an eight point pull back from the record high of 77 in 2012.
"With such a large drop in customer satisfaction, companies need to focus on improving their contact center's policies and procedures currently in place as they look for ways to return to prior year's satisfaction levels," says Terry Redding, vice president of marketing and product development, in a statement. "This focus will aid more than just scores; it is vital from a company profit perspective as satisfied customers buy more and recommend the companies to others more frequently, all of which contributes to the bottom line."
Beyond basic policies and procedures, CFI Group advances two hypotheses for the large drop coming from the larger world environment. The first is that consumers have low confidence with the economy and government and are generally fatigued as the economy continues to stall, leading to the score backlash. The second is that after years of steady growth in performance, consumers have built an expectation of great service, and contact centers failed to meet it this year.
While overall satisfaction is dropping, the research identified an opportunity for contact centers to increase satisfaction through non-call channels. In 2013, the desire for self-paced or instantaneous service continued to grow. Almost half of respondents indicated their preferred method of contact would be a non-call communication, such as email, chat or via the company's website.
Chat as a preferred customer service tool has remained steady at nearly 10 percent for the past two years. The adoption of chat and its growing preference is evident as 63 percent of this year's respondents indicated that they actively look for the chat function when visiting a company's site.
"As non-call channels continue to grow in use and popularity, now is the time for contact centers to begin training, testing and monitoring these channels for improvement in the customer's experience," says Redding. "To better serve customers, companies need to continue to look at the service aspect of their website with an eye towards customer self-service and not just traditional marketing and sales activities."
The CCSI also found that social media is growing as an avenue for customers to share and voice opinions in a community setting and for businesses to conduct damage control. Nearly 40 percent of respondents turned to social media to voice a concern, increasing from 17 percent of respondents in 2012.
"Successful companies are monitoring this channel and reaching out to consumers through the same social media to address consumer issues. When done successfully, companies are seeing the payback as the study shows significant increases in customer satisfaction, loyalty and likelihood to recommend as a result of these efforts," says Redding.
The 2013 CCSI collected data from more than 1,500 consumers across six major industries: banking, cell phone service, health insurance, property insurance, retail, and cable or satellite TV.