Workforce Optimization Featured Article

Qualtrics, inContact Get Together for Valuable New Research Push

September 29, 2016

Trying to manage without information is like trying to play chess with a board that's in a completely different room. Being able to see what's going on in a wider market, or even in local operations, is vital to have even a decent chance of making smart decisions. Recently, Qualtrics and inContact got together to put out a new study of customer service representatives (CSRs) and returned with new information that most every workplace manager will want to have on hand.

The biggest point from that study is that CSRs are still overwhelmingly using phone-based support tools. While non-voice channels—Web chat, email, text messaging and the like—are all still on the rise, in 86 percent of cases phone was still front and center. Email proved the second most popular channel, as nearly half—46 percent—of CSRs used the email tool for customer interaction. This was followed by online chat at 16 percent.

Another noteworthy point was that CSRs spend about 83 percent of time helping customers. Good number, if perhaps not the best, but what the CSRs are doing on those support calls may raise some eyebrows. Support calls are almost evenly split between assisting customers with a purchase and providing technical support for those purchases. That's not good news; tech support is generally not a revenue-generating activity, at least, not immediately. While it does help keep a company in good standing with customers, it doesn't contribute to new purchases right away.

Some new tools are helping CSRs get back to the selling, particularly interactive voice response (IVR) systems that are supported by quality automatic call distribution (ACD) systems. Progressive analytics systems also help calls get routed to more appropriate locations, which takes some strain off the CSR (News - Alert).

While customer service was at one time regarded as a cost-center, that's happening much less than it ever used to, and that's a good sign. Customer services is an excellent differentiation tool for companies to put to use, a way to say to customers, “we're better than the other guys,” and have it stick. At the same time, we're also seeing some noteworthy trends. The omnichannel concept is still gaining some ground, but when every part of omnichannel but phone represents just 14 percent of operations, it's probably going to get glossed over in a lot of companies. Such a stance might make for some lost customers, though; who wants to ignore 14 percent of a market?  It's also worth considering making more dedicated tech support operations, which might qualify as a cost-center, but at the same time help support that long-term support required for the best customer experience. Leaving such job to CSRs potentially takes away from duties that may yield better revenue pictures.

Qualtrics and inContact have given us a lot to consider with this study, and those who don't at least consider it may find market share lost to those who will.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
Article comments powered by Disqus