In the global contact center industry, estimated to be worth some $130 billion per annum, organizations are not optimizing the value of their investments in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) practices.
That's one of the findings in the 2008 Datacraft / Dimension Data Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report, which includes survey responses from 300 contact centers in 36 countries across five continents. This year's report confirms that "only a minority" of contact centers have established CRM practices and capabilities.
Karina Majid, Datacraft Asia's General Manager for Customer Interactive Solutions, lamented that only "minimal" progress has been made in adopting a more customer-oriented, CRM-based approach within the contact center environment over the last 10 years: "When we compared this year's findings with those from our inaugural 1997 Report, the picture is not positive."
Ten years ago, 39 percent of participating contact centers possessed a single view of the customer, with a further 45 percent of centers planning to implement a single view within the following two years, study officials found, adding that "this year's results show that the percentage of centers with a single customer view has decreased to 34 percent."
In addition, in 1997 many organizations stated their intention to deploy a more sophisticated set of customer metrics within their contact centers. These metrics included customer lifetime value and profitability, study officials said.
However, this year's statistics reveal that contact centers that are able to measure or actively employ these types of metrics are in the minority. "For example," study officials say, "less than 10 percent of centers surveyed have the capability to measure lifetime value, and only 18 percent of centers use customer profitability as a metric."
"These findings indicate that the development of a more holistic and sophisticated approach to customer management is less of a priority than it was 10 years ago, and there is a back-to-basics trend with contact centers focusing more on basic performance efficiencies and cost reduction," Majid said, adding that "only 16 percent of participating centers ranked 'creating direct customer relationships' among their top three commercial drivers, compared with over 50 percent 10 years ago.
The study also found that 38 percent of contact center managers polled believe that a contact center agent's ability to resolve a query during the first call is the most important factor in service improvement, while 74 percent rated it in their top three.
"Contact centers still rely on the standard efficiency metrics," Majid said, noting that "abandon rate is the most commonly used target with 90.1 percent of participating centers using it as a key metric, while only 63.4 percent of centers use First Call Resolution as a performance target."
Last month a study by the Association of German Engineers (VDI) showed that "half of all German companies do not make use of customer relationship management systems (CRM)," according to the study's sponsors.
In most companies, the study found, there is not a systematic controlling of the bidding process -- "75 percent of companies said that bid proposal management is a usual everyday process which is not systematically planned," VDI officials said, adding that "this fact shows that there is still a lot of potential for improvement in this process."
Many companies consider customer relation management to be "quite unimportant" -- study officials said that about 20 percent of respondents said that they do not have any particular measures strengthening their relations with customers.
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David�s articles, please visit his columnistpage. He also blogs for TMCnet here.