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Multichannel will force better contact with customers suggests survey

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The downside of multi-channel is that customers are often confused about how to contact retailers when they have a problem to discuss. The vast majority – even the most tech-savvy consumers – expect to be able to call a call centre. This issue is explored in a new survey, The Autonomous Customer, conducted by BT and Avaya. It reveals that an overwhelming 90 per cent of smart-phone owners still expect to use call centres in the future. And with the recent explosion in communication channels available for people to contact companies, almost two thirds (60 per cent) of people surveyed admitted they constantly change the ones they use.

Another finding was that more than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed think the subjects of their calls are becoming more complicated, as the vast majority (81 per cent) of them do their initial engagement with organisations online. The survey also highlighted the importance of consistency and flexibility across different communication channels with 60 per cent of respondents liking the idea of speaking to exactly the same agent by email and telephone.

Technology clearly has a key role to play, and 74 per cent were irritated at having to repeat identity details when they had already keyed them in, whereas almost half (48 per cent) liked the idea of using a speech recognition to identify them by their voice.

When it comes to managing these queries many organisations are still falling short. Despite a massive 86 per cent of consumers saying a good experience on the phone will make them more loyal, more than two thirds (69 per cent) said they felt that agents try to rush their calls to an early conclusion. Worse still, an astonishing 90 per cent of high-earning consumers said they were subjected to suggestions that they might be better off trying the website.

Andrew Small, global head of customer relationship management, BT Global Services, said: “For many consumers, calling the contact centre is the favoured way to resolve the most complicated queries. The vast majority of people have used the internet to do their own research first, so by the time they pick up the phone, the organisation they’re calling is either close to a sale or close to a fail.

“This survey shows how vital it is for contact centres to have a pool of highly-trained agents who are capable of solving complex issues. By connecting these agents with the latest social media and unified communications tools, contact centres can share their knowledge across multiple sites — including homeworkers — to create ‘networked experts’ who are much more able to satisfy enquires from increasingly demanding customers.”

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