Monday, 4 March 2013

Yes, lots of us think we know more than the call centre agent!

New research from BT and Avaya.
It's official, you're not the only one thinking you probably know more than the call centre agent on the other end of the telephone!

In fact, 70% of consumers believe they are often more knowledgeable about the products and services they're enquiring about than the contact centre agent.

That's according to new research from BT and Avaya involving 1,000 consumers in the UK and the US. The research also found 80% of people thought agents struggled to answer their questions and 85% believed they'd been put on hold because agents didn't know what to say.

The failure of service identified by the research presents a significant risk to organizations as 78% of consumers say that they only buy from businesses that make it easy for them to deal with and a third believe convenience is more important than price. Additionally, almost half believe customer loyalty is a thing of the past.

The survey discovered an increased use of smartphone apps, video and web chat in dealings with organizations. Video conferencing seems to be finally taking off, with usage up 100% since similar research was carried out in 2010. Some 13% of the people surveyed use video conferencing at home every week - double the number from 2010 - and 55% would like to use video chat to have their questions answered by contact centre agents. Web chat is also growing fast, with 26% of people using it to communicate with organizations, up by 36% compared with 2010.

But the phone remains the most popular customer service channel with 77% of people having called an organization in the six months prior to the survey. Indeed, 54% had used the phone to call an organization in the month leading up to the survey compared with 56% for the same period in 2010 - indicating that the phone is holding its own despite the growth of alternative contact channels. Over 90% of consumers want organizations to display phone numbers clearly on all channels and 89% say that when things go wrong, there is no alternative to speaking to a real person.

As smartphone usage, social media and Wi-Fi coverage continue to grow, half of consumers are constantly changing the way they contact organizations. Eighty two percent say they need a range of channels to meet their needs. But many are frustrated with the experience of switching channels as it exposes huge gaps in customer service. In fact, just 17% think swapping between channels is easy and gives them a seamless experience and 69% of consumers say they're often asked to repeat their account details on the same call.            

Andrew Small, vice president BT Contact, BT Global Services, said, "Consumers are more connected and better informed than ever before, so when they do call - or use another channel such as web chat or video - they expect to deal with someone who knows what they're talking about. When organizations fail to connect their customers to the right agent, it's not only frustrating for the consumer but also for the staff involved. The solution is for organizations to use technology to ensure their customers' calls go to the right agent first time and to connect contact centre staff using collaboration tools to create networked experts who can share their knowledge when needed. This new BT and Avaya research highlights not only that many organizations are failing to do this but also the danger of poor service in a world where consumer loyalty is a thing of the past."

Mark de la Vega, vice president and general manager, contact centre applications at Avaya, said, "The new challenge for contact centre operators is to build the infrastructure that enables consumers to seamlessly switch between all of the channels they provide to give a truly cohesive and satisfying customer experience. The most significant factor, regardless of channel used, is that consumers reach the right agent equipped with the right knowledge and tools to resolve their issues in a timely and efficient manner."

Many well-known contact centre gripes remain with 54% of people saying the music and messages on hold often don't provide a good impression of the organization they're calling and 93% say that organizations should phone them back when they said they would.

Scotland's design and construction industry flying the flag at EcoBuild

Scottish companies flying the flag.
A dozen Scottish companies will be proudly flying the flag at EcoBuild in London over the next three days at the world's largest showcase for sustainable construction products.

And they'll be promoting their products within the Scottish Pavilion - a first for Scotland at the prestigious event which is expected to attract over 57,000 influential professionals from over 120 markets worldwide in the design and construction industry.

As part of their visit, the companies, supported by Scottish Enterprise (SE) and its international arm, Scottish Development International (SDI), will also participate in a B2B matchmaking event, organised by the Enterprise Europe Network, to identify potential commercial and technology partners from Europe.

Hosting a Scottish Pavilion at EcoBuild contributes to the wider objectives set by the industry in its new strategy document "Building for the Future: the Scottish Construction Industry's Strategy 2013-16", which was launched in October last year to revive the sector after the recession.

Scottish Enterprise director of construction, Alistair McKinnon, said, "Home to 31,000 businesses which employ 170,000 people, Scotland's construction sector is of huge importance to the economy and as such we are committed to supporting its growth ambition.

"In particular, with Scotland aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 42% by 2020, the sustainability and low carbon agenda offers significant economic opportunities, as the industry fights back from the recession."

Innovation has a key role to play in supporting the industry's economic growth and Scotland is already seeing a number of innovative companies embracing this opportunity. Companies such as Ochil Timber Products Ltd which design and supply engineered wood products for all shapes and sizes of buildings and Westcrowns whose range of glass products deliver clear and tangible commercial benefits by reducing the overall energy consumption and deliver daylight benefits to buildings.

Ochil Timber Products Ltd managing director, Andrew McAree, said, "The transition to a low carbon economy offers significant benefits to the construction industry and we recognise the importance of developing new products and services which capture a share of this important market."

Mr McKinnon added, "Helping companies like Ochil Timber Products and Westcrowns to compete globally and capture a share of the worldwide market, which is expected to double in the next few years, is critical if we are to help grow this important sector in Scotland.

"We are beginning to see signs that the worst of the downturn is over in many parts of the industry and I'm seeing genuine enthusiasm and commitment right across the industry for its success.

"Companies are recognising the benefits of working more collaboratively to secure contracts, that being more innovative is what keeps them ahead of their competitors and trading internationally will help to make a significant impact on their bottom line.

"It's great to see so many companies participating in the Scottish Pavilion and I wish them every success in securing new business as they deliver their growth ambition."

Companies on the Scottish Pavilion are:

  • Enewall / Enemetric / Enevis all part of the EneGroup
  • Ewgeco (Tayeco trading as)
  • IECHP (UK & Eire) Limited
  • IRT Surveys Ltd
  • ITW Industry
  • Institute for Sustainable Construction
  • Ochil Timber Products Ltd
  • Oregon Timber Frame Ltd
  • A Proctor Group Ltd
  • Val-U-Therm Ltd
  • Waterevolution Ltd
  • Westcrowns Ltd

EcoBuild runs from the 5th to 7th March.