Study Finds Call Centre Service Critical for Business

When a policyholder or potential customer contacts an insurance provider, the person on the other end of the phone can make – or break – the company’s image.

That is the conclusion of a customer satisfaction study that undertook a critical look at companies that outsource their customer service call centres to other jurisdictions, including locations overseas.

“Customer service representatives are on the front lines of a company’s interaction with their customers, so it’s vitally important that they have the training and resources to do what customers expect of them,” says Sheri Teodoru, CEO of CFI Group, which conducted the study —  the Contact Center Satisfaction Index.

The study covers eight industries that commonly outsource their call centres, including insurance. “If customers just wanted to hear a friendly voice, they’d call their mom – but they are calling to get something done,” notes Teodoru.

CFI Group created the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which was applied to the eight industry sectors for the study.

Insurance generally ranked well although not the highest, with 75 per cent of customers indicating they were satisfied with the response they received from call centre personnel, which was the third best-rated industry; hotels came in tops, with 78 per cent of customers happy with call centre responses. The multi-channel retail sector scored a 76-per-cent satisfaction rate.

Cable and satellite companies scored the lowest, with just 66 per cent of customers pleased with assistance from call centres, and personal computer companies ranked just slightly ahead with a 69-per-cent customer satisfaction score.

This is the second year that CFI has carried out the study and, year-over-year, customer satisfaction with contact centres has increased. But it found that one in five customers end their contact center experience with unresolved problems.

“These customers are half as satisfied (CCSI score of 40 vs. 80) and twice as likely to defect” and take their business elsewhere, it is concluded. “Customers clearly punish poor performance, but they reward good customer service.  Customers whose issues are resolved on the first call are 49-per-cent more likely to continue doing business with the company than customers whose issues are not resolved.”

The CCSI report also indicates that more customers are using the call centre as “the resource of last resort,” contacting a customer service representative only after exhausting other channels of finding the answer through other sources such as company Web sites, the study said.

The study also looked specifically at offshore call centres, finding they are doing a better job this year solving issues although “their satisfaction scores still lag behind onshore contact centers by a wide margin.”

One of the main challenges for offshore call centres is effective communication, as issues are 25-per-cent less likely to be resolved when customer service representatives are difficult to understand.

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