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Convergys – customers happy to try new channels, but only if they work

U.S. consumers still prefer to call agents when they need customer service but there is growing popularity of other channels.

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According to the third Convergys 2011 U.S. Customer Scorecard Research, the majority of U.S. consumers still want to talk to agents over the phone but have found that web chat is now second in popularity. The survey was conducted among individuals aged 18 to 74, and women and men were almost evenly represented. Of the 3,514 people who responded to the survey, a majority are in high tech industries and telecommunications.

It seems that consumers are happy to try ‘new’ ways of communicating -- web chat, email, social media -- with companies, as long as they get a quick response (CP: Forget fiber, telcos should deliver customer service to the home – and fast). However if the initial contact is not satisfactory they will quickly revert to talking to an agent. There is, however, no doubt that patterns are changing and customers are using more channels.

The research confirms that U.S. consumers are using alternative channels to get customer service, especially on their initial contact with a company. This provides an opportunity, says Igor Sarenac, Convergys vice president, with follow ups increasingly being handled via other channels, “to shape the customer experience for a multichannel world” where automated self-service, web-based care and social media will all play an important role.

The research found that 73 percent of U.S. consumers have already used devices such as smartphones, tablets and channels such as social media accounts. With the increase in the number of customers blogging or using social media, these channels are becoming familiar among customers. As today’s teenagers become tomorrow’s businessmen and consumers, patterns will shift dramatically.

There is help for companies struggling with the shift, as real time analytics are used to manage the huge amount of data and identify critical trends, which will shape better-informed, pro-active communications. In addition, with the increase in the usage of live chat, tools are being used to optimize the performance of chat sessions.

Companies such as nanoRep, who have recently integrated their help desk software with LivePerson’s platform are providing the tools. NanoRep products mean that greater numbers of chat sessions can be managed and customers can be intelligently directed to relevant answers during chat sessions. This reduces the need for extra headcount during busy times such as the Holiday season. As with any other advance, the tools must work the first time, otherwise, as the Convergys research proves, customers will pick up the phone.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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