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THE CHALLENGE OF SERVING THE ENGAGED CUSTOMER
2012 Consumer Channel Preference Survey Highlights and Implications for Service Providers May 2012, NICE Systems
In 2011, NICE inaugurated research into the behavior and preferences of customers as they interact with their service providers. Then, we found that people like doing business with providers online, via the web, and that, while having a multiplicity of interaction channels is important to consumers, the contact center remains a critical secondtier service resource. A year later, our 2012 Consumer Channel Preference Survey establishes these trends, showing even more channels and more empowered, engaged customers in play. Our 2012 findings reveal that, while the Web is still the most popular-and growing-choice for customer self-service, consumers today use as many as six different channels for contacting their service providers. Smartphone applications and social networks have grown in popularity, with more than 40% of respondents noting that they have increased their use of these additional channels. Despite this trend, the contact center is still viewed as the most successful channel for accomplishing tasks. It is perhaps not surprising to learn that consumers continue to interact with service providers across a growing number of channels, or that Generation Y (consumers aged 18 - 30) is leading the way in expanding the use of alternative self-serve channels. But it is intriguing to learn that the use of virtually all interaction channels is growing, with customers creating more interactions than ever before. Regardless of which channel they choose to initiate contact with an organization, more than 50% of respondents noted that, if they cannot easily achieve resolution, they will turn to the contact center. There, customer expectations of live representatives are high. Forty percent of respondents expect reps to be informed of their experiences upon beginning the conversation and to be able to successfully resolve their issues quickly. In order to meet such high expectations, organizations must provide a consistent and continuous experience across an array of interaction channels. Most importantly, they must be able to understand and shape interactions with customers in real time, at what amounts to a Decisive Moment, when customers are, literally, “on the line.”
The Web is the number one interaction channel. Nearly a third of respondents (28%) interact with their service providers via the web at least once a week. Financial Services customers are the heaviest Web users: 60% visit their providers’ web channels weekly and 74% are able to successfully complete their transactions using the Web. The use of all interaction channels is growing, especially in the travel/hospitality and insurance sector. The healthcare industry lags behind in multi-channel service, with healthcare customers preferring to use service centers (85%). The use of smartphone apps and SMS is on the rise (34%), with the strongest growth in financial services (46%) and travel (38%). More than half (52%) of financial services customers report satisfaction with smart phone apps. Half of respondents cite first call resolution as the primary motivator to contact a live rep, whether by phone (50%) or at a branch office (42%). The IVR has a significant negative impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. 60% or respondents seek to bypass the IVR to get to a live representative.
About The Survey
In the fall of 2011, NICE conducted original research to understand customer experience and preferences when people interact with their service providers. We sought to: Understand the frequency with which customers use various channels (branch offices, phone, email, etc.) to interact with the companies they do business with. Assess satisfaction, pain points and motivation to use various channels. Understand customers’ preferences for channels and possible gaps with usage. NICE collected survey responses from nearly 1,200 people between the ages of 18 and 65, living in major metropolitan areas in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The survey focused on their interactions with providers of financial, telecommunications, travel and hospitality, healthcare and insurance services. Respondents were allowed to respond for up to two service provider experiences (e.g., telecom and insurance providers), bringing the total of survey responses to nearly 2,000.
Findings More Channels, More Interactions
Echoing the results from the previous year, the 2012 NICE Consumer Channel Preference Survey reveals that consumers exercise a wide range of channels when interacting with their service providers. In this year’s survey, however, we see consumers turning to more channels than ever before. Consumers today use, on average, almost six different channels for contacting service providers. Traditional channels - live rep, web, branch locations, IVR, email and standard mail - are used most frequently, though standard mail is the sole channel showing declining use. And smartphone apps, social networks and websites show the highest growth. But across the board, approximately 86 percent of consumers report they are interacting more often or at the same level with their service providers. This growth in interactions across virtually all channels is an intriguing finding among this year’s results.
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Less then 2 years ago
Same as 2 years ago
More than 2 years ago
Figure 1 - Change in Channel Usage Relative to 2 Years Ago Please indicate whether you use the method or channel with your provider more, the same, or less often than you did two years ago.
Approximately 86 percent of consumers report they are interacting more often or at the same level with their service providers. This growth in interactions across virtually all channels is an intriguing finding among this year’s results.
Other self-service channels continue to evolve, with Generation Y consumers (aged 18-30) driving their use. According to survey results, a quarter to a third (25% to 32%) of Millennials report using the following alternative channels frequently: live chat or virtual assistant on websites, text messaging (SMS), smartphone applications, service kiosks, social networks and online communities sponsored by their providers. Baby Boomers (aged 46-60) tend to confine their interactions to fewer channels, preferring assisted channels, but expanding into text-based media like the web and email.
Web Self-Service: The Number One Channel
Not surprisingly, the web remains the first choice for all customers seeking help from their service providers. Nearly 30% of survey respondents said they consult their providers’ websites at least once a week, making it the most frequently accessed channel. And it is beginning to rival assisted-service (e.g., contacting a human being at a contact center or physical location) across all geographies, ages and industry verticals. In fact, for the first time, the web is emerging as nearly as successful in enabling customers to accomplish tasks as consulting a live rep (65% vs. 71%, respectively).
Service provider website Live rep via phone Physical location / branch Email Standart mail Automated phone system Smart phone app Text messaging (SMS) Social networks Live chat with rep on website Virtual assistant on website Service kiosks Online communities 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Less than Monthly
Figure 2 - Frequency of Channel Usage How frequently do you currently use each of the following methods or channels to interact with your provider?
Figure 3 - Average Percentage of Time Successful For each provider, please indicate what percentage of the time you are typically able to accomplish tasks using the method/channel.
However, the web does have its drawbacks. When asked what accounted for any discontent using this channel, respondents said web self-service does not lend itself to complex tasks (43%) and takes too long to find information (43%).
The Contact Center: One and Done
Establishing a trend from our 2011 results, assisted service continues to be an important Tier 2 interaction channel. More than 50% of respondents noted that, when unable to accomplish a task via self-service, they turn to the contact center to resolve their issues. In fact, the primary reason consumers seek assisted service, the survey shows, is the ability to achieve first call resolution (FCR) when interacting with a person. Once connected with a rep, 40% said they expect him or her to know about their previous interactions in other channels. When asked what they like about assisted service, half of respondents cited FCR as their number-one reason for consulting a live rep (50%) and branch employee (42%). A third (33% live rep) to a quarter (24% branch) of respondents said they derive satisfaction from dealing with knowledgeable reps with specialized training.
Figure 4 – Preferred Method of Assistance on Website If you are unable to accomplish a task on provider’s website, in which of the following ways would you most prefer to get assistance?
A third of respondents reported interacting with a live rep by phone or at a physical location monthly or more frequently. More than 70% of respondents said they are successful in getting their issues resolved by speaking to a service rep. In fact, more than 50% said they have a 100% success rate when consulting a live human being. Thus, the contact center remains the most successful interaction channel.
More than 50% said they have a 100% success rate when consulting a live human being.
Generation Y: Tomorrow’s Customer Base
Gen Y consumers are increasing usage across all interaction channels and are most likely to use the broadest array of channels (more than 6) on a regular basis. However, Millennials do show a penchant for self-service channels, and are driving adoption of alternative channels, such as SMS, smartphone apps, social networks and more.
18 - 30
31 - 45
46 - 65
Figure 5 – Number of Channels Used
18 - 30
31 - 45
46 - 65
Figure 6 – Number of Channels Used At Least Monthly
IVR: The Least Loved Channel
The flip side to consumers’ satisfaction with interactions with a live rep by phone is the route they must take to get to them: the IVR. One of the top reasons (43%) consumers cite for dissatisfaction with the IVR is difficulty in reaching a rep. Nearly 60% of respondents try to bypass the automated phone system to reach a live representative or to use the callback option (highest among US customers), while nearly a third (27%) are likely to get frustrated and hang up (highest [31%] among Millennials). Across all verticals and age groups surveyed, frustration with the IVR proved to have a negative impact on customer satisfaction and to erode the likelihood customers will continue doing business with a service provider.
The 2012 NICE Consumer Channel Preference Survey focused on customer interactions with the following service providers: financial, telecom, travel and hospitality, healthcare and insurance services. Responses show that preferences for and use of channels, such as Web, mobile application, phone and branch/physical location, varies greatly between these industries. Financial services customers are the heaviest web users; 74% indicated that they are able to successfully complete their transactions using the web. Respondents in the other verticals were less satisfied; 57% expressed their satisfaction with web self-service. The use of all interaction channels is growing, especially in the travel/hospitality and insurance sector. However, multichannel service lags behind in the healthcare industry, where many of the advanced channels (e.g., social networks, smart phone applications) are still not prevalent. Healthcare customers prefer to use service centers (85%), and many routine tasks, such as changing contact information, scheduling an appointment or getting test results, are handled via live reps. Clearly, there is room here for efficiency improvements, simply by shifting these tasks to self-service channels.
To schedule an appointment (57% live rep)
To check coverage (33% live rep)
To check medical test results (39% physical location)
To change contact info (18% live rep)
To find clinic / doctor’s office location (18% live rep)
To pay your bills (17% live rep)
Figure 7 - Inefficiencies Within Assisted-Service Contact methods used for different types of tasks.
The use of smartphone apps and SMS is on the rise (34%), with the strongest growth in the financial services sector (46%) and the travel sector (38%). Financial services customers are substantially more successful (52%) and satisfied with smart phone apps than users in other industries (34% use this channel successfully).
Implications The Engaged Customer
The number and range of interaction channels Gen Y customers use and the frequency with which they do so point to the emergence of the “engaged customer”. A concept that has recently become part of the customer service vernacular, the engaged customer is technologically savvy and knowledgeable, constantly connected, loathe to wait and intolerant of poor service, and, by virtue of their prolific use of social media, uniquely influential. To the benefit or detriment of the companies they do business with, the engaged customer will let others know of their experience-instantly. Now aged 18-30, these young people will mature into the mainstream customer base of the not-too-distant future. Companies must be ready to meet the engaged customer in whatever media she chooses, and to do so in a timely, efficient and consistent manner.
The Organizational Challenge: Owning the Decisive Moment
Financial services organizations seem to be making the right moves toward meeting the needs of the engaged customer. Banks, investment houses, lenders and other financial institutions have moved more quickly than other industries to embrace alternative media, making many routine tasks achievable online and via smartphones. Providing an array of interaction channels is critical-not only for the loyalty and satisfaction of connected, techno-savvy customers, but also for the optimal operational efficiency. But alone, it’s not enough. With the emergence of self-service channels (and companies’ efforts to drive customers to them), it was only a matter of time before service interactions shifted to these new channels. Interestingly, what we see is that these self-service interactions do not come at the expense of more traditional assisted interactions, but rather in addition to them.
Self-service interactions do not come at the expense of more traditional assisted interactions, but rather in addition to them.
As this survey shows, consumers are not only using more channels to interact, they’re also creating more interactions than ever before. During those interactions, they have high expectations of their service providers. They expect a consistent and continuous customer experience across channels and they want their service providers to be aware of their interaction journey, particularly at the Decisive Moment when the interaction is taking place. For example, at the contact center, frustrated by their first attempt to solve their issues via self-service, customers want live reps to pick up where their last interaction left off, and to bring their issues to a quick and successful conclusion. Decisive Moments are present in any interaction between customer and company, no matter what media they occur in. Looking ahead, as today’s impatient Gen Y customers mature, the window of opportunity during these interactions will undoubtedly narrow. This finding reinforces the need for companies to be able to understand and shape in real time a growing number of customer interactions across an expanding ecosphere of interaction channels. Therein lies a vital challenge-the Big Data Challenge. In order for organizations to be truly able to impact the Decisive Moment, they must be able to capture and analyze tremendous volumes of data-structured and unstructured data like customer demographics, interaction and account history, feedback and more, collectively known as the Voice of the Customer-and to act on the insights the data reveal. But impacting that Moment can only be achieved by impacting every stage of the interaction lifecycle: managing interactions with real-time decisioning and guidance as they unfold, optimizing workforce performance in advance in order to be prepared for any and every live interaction, and afterward and ongoingly, leveraging insights to drive improvement across the enterprise. It is a complete, closed-loop cycle of inputs and impacts spanning all interactions and interaction channels, all systems that touch the customer and every facet of an organization, every day. And it all culminates in the Decisive Moment.
As our 2012 Consumer Channel Preference Survey shows, self-service preferences and usage continue to evolve. Web self-service remains the dominant interaction channel, but the number of channels and the frequency with which consumers (particularly Gen Y customers aged 18 - 30) access them is on the rise. Yet, regardless of the industry, consumers continue to turn to the contact center when they want to resolve an issue. What’s emerging is a portrait of the Engaged Customer, who expects his experience to be consistent and continuous across channels, for his service providers to be aware of his interaction journey, and for a live rep to be able to resolve his issues quickly and efficiently. Interactions represent Decisive Moments, when customers are literally and figuratively “on the line”. Yet, having more channels and more interactions across them means more Decisive Moments for organizations every day. It is critical for an enterprise to be able to impact interactions at this Moment, but doing so is a Big Data Challenge of gargantuan proportions. It requires organizations to surface the insights hidden in the vast amounts of structured and unstructured data derived from customer interactions. And as noted, the volume of interactions is growing. The NICE Customer Interaction Management Offering integrates Real-Time Analytics, Decisioning and Guidance with Voice of the Customer and Workforce Optimization solutions, enabling organizations to impact every customer interaction in order to enhance the customer experience, improve operational efficiency, drive revenue growth, and comply with regulations. NICE Enterprise solutions are implemented by contact centers of all sizes, branch networks, retail stores, trading floors, and back office operations at a variety of industries.
NICE (NASDAQ: NICE), is the worldwide leader of intent-based solutions that capture and analyze interactions and transactions, realize intent, and extract and leverage insights to deliver impact in real time. Driven by cross-channel and multi-sensor analytics, NICE solutions enable organizations to improve business performance, increase operational efficiency, prevent financial crime, ensure compliance, and enhance safety and security. NICE serves over 25,000 organizations in the enterprise and security sectors, representing a variety of sizes and industries in more than 150 countries, and including over 80 of the Fortune 100 companies. www.nice.com
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DATE 05/2012 • P/N BR20267 • CONTENTS OF THIS DOCUMENT ARE COPYRIGHT © 2012.
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