Customer experience systems developer Amdocs (News - Alert) released a survey of 2,900 consumers that underscores the key role that effective self-service channels play in solving customer problems and mitigating negative customer reactions. Conducted in conjunction with research firm, Coleman Parkes, the survey uncovers a significant way for service providers to lower call center costs and boost the quality of customer experience through more convenient self-service capability. Companies can do this, the study found, while making use of customer feedback and information gleaned from the self-service channels to proactively limit the number of calls the their help desks and call centers.
"We are seeing a major shift in customer behavior," said Ian Parkes, Director and Co-Founder at Coleman Parkes, in a company statement. "Consumers prefer to seek answers to common questions through online resources. However, many end users believe service providers' online services cannot solve their problems, so they gravitate back to the call center. There is a clear opportunity for service providers to take control of the experience and to reduce costs."
In terms of the customer experience, the study found that smartphones remain a customer service difficulty, with a majority of smartphone users developing a problem with the phone or their service within a year. 82 percent or smartphone customers had contacted their service providers at least once with a question; 50 percent had made contact at least twice with a question or problem.
The study found that fully 75 percent of surveyed consumers would first choose online channels for service as a first option, if available. However, a mere 37 percent actually attempt to do so because online self service channels are perceived as being inaccurate or incomplete. 91 percent indicated that they would prefer a single, online knowledge base if it could serve their needs.
More than half of consumers surveyed said they have tried to complain directly to their mobile service providers using social media platforms. Yet 73 percent said they received unsatisfactory responses or none at all.
With consumers feeling that online support is lacking, the next place they tend to go is the call center. The study found that by failing to resolve customer issues online, companies are driving up unnecessary use of their call centers, wasting agent time and increasing costs. More than 40 percent of customers contact a call center after failing to obtain answers online.
"The proliferation of smartphones and services pose a growing support challenge for service providers as new owners struggle to understand device features, services and plans. Service providers are increasingly focused on providing simple, intuitive and proactive service capabilities, while examining strategies for becoming more proactive," said Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president of product marketing for Amdocs, in the statement. "By monitoring and analyzing real-time customer information, service providers can deflect calls, which will simplify the customer experience while reducing call center volumes considerably."