Consumers Call For Smarter Contact Centres

Mon Mar 4, 2013 8:35am EST

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BT and Avaya research finds 70 percent of UK and US consumers think they often
know more than the contact center agent dealing with their inquiry
IRVING, Texas,  March 4, 2013  /PRNewswire/ -- Seventy percent of consumers
believe they often know more about the products and services they're enquiring
about than the contact center agent dealing with their call. That's according to
new research from BT and Avaya which found that 80 percent of people thought
agents struggled to answer their questions and 85 percent 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 percent 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, which polled 1,000 consumers in the US and UK, discovered an
increased use of smartphone apps, video and webchat in dealings with
organizations. Video conferencing seems to be finally taking off, with usage up
100 percent since similar research was carried out in 2010. Some 13 percent of
the people surveyed use video conferencing at home every week - double the
number from 2010 - and 55 percent would like to use video chat to have their
questions answered by contact center agents. Webchat is also growing fast, with
26 percent of people using it to communicate with organizations, up by 36
percent compared with 2010.

But the phone remains the most popular customer service channel with 77 percent
of people having called an organization in the six months prior to the survey.
Indeed, 54 percent had used the phone to call an organization in the month
leading up to the survey compared with 56 percent for the same period in 2010 -
indicating that the phone is holding its own despite the growth of alternative
contact channels. Over 90 percent (91 percent) of consumers want organizations
to display phone numbers clearly on all channels and 89 percent 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 percent think swapping between channels is
easy and gives them a seamless experience and 69 percent 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 webchat 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 center 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 center applications
at Avaya, said: "The new challenge for contact center 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 center gripes remain with 54 percent of people saying
the music and messages on hold often don't provide a good impression of the
organization they're calling and 93 percent say that organizations should phone
them back when they said they would.   

Notes to editors
BT has Avaya Platinum Partner status worldwide and has installed over 100,000
Avaya systems in the last two decades, including over 1,000 contact centers.
Through the BT Contact portfolio, BT and Avaya can help organizations use all
the communication channels their customers expect in the most integrated and
efficient way. Together, they take an end-to-end customer experience management
approach, leveraging the resources organizations already have whilst bringing in
new, enabling technologies to achieve best practice.

A series of blogs based on the BT and Avaya Autonomous Customer research will be
posted to:  http://letstalk.globalservices.bt.com/en/  over the coming weeks.
Infographics to support the release can be found at:  www.bt.com/btcontact.  

About the research
Davies Hickman Partners, independent research analysts, carried out the research
on behalf of BT and Avaya. The source material was provided through an online
survey of 1,000 consumers, with 500 based in the US and 500 in the UK. Age and
sex profiles were evenly distributed across the survey to create a
representative sample of the population in both countries.    

About BT
BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications services and
solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal
activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local,
national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use
at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services
and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of
four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and
Openreach.

In the year ended  31 March 2012, BT Group's revenue was £18,897m with profit
before taxation of £2,445m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc
and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group
plc is listed on stock exchanges in  London  and New York.   

For more information, visit  www.btplc.com

About Avaya
Avaya is the worldwide leader in solutions for business collaboration and
communication. The company provides Unified Communications, Contact Centers,
Networking solutions and related services for companies of every size around the
world. For more information:  www.avaya.com

Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking
statements. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking
terminology such as "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate,"
"expect," "intend," "may," "might," "plan," "potential," "predict," "should" or
"will" or other similar terminology. We have based these forward-looking
statements on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections.
While we believe these expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections are
reasonable, such forward looking statements are only predictions and involve
known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control.
These and other important factors may cause our actual results, performance or
achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or
achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. For a
list and description of such risks and uncertainties, please refer to Avaya's
filings with the SEC that are available at  www.sec.gov. Avaya disclaims any
intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements,
whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

SOURCE  BT


Kris Kozamchak, +1-972-830-8135, kris.kozamchak@bt.com

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