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July 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 2
From The Analysts Desk

Study Reveals Disconnect Between C-Level Executives and Contact Center

By Susan J. Campbell,
Contributing Editor, Customer Interaction Solutions

Within the global contact center industry, one of the biggest disconnects is between C-level organizational executives and contact centers. Executives will promise one thing and contact centers will actually see another altogether. Executives understand the contact center processes to be one way when in reality, they are quite different.

In a comprehensive worldwide survey, The Executive Disconnect: The Strategic Alignment of Customer Service, an in-depth look at businesses across key regions worldwide is detailed with supporting data for major markets in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc., surveyed a group of C-level executives and compared their responses to the customer-centric professionals who are much closer to the front lines.

The survey revealed that customer care professionals and executives overwhelmingly agree that customer service impacts the company’s brand identity, yet very few believe that their customer service acts mainly as a strategic function.

The study also found that only 20 percent of CEO-level executives and 20 percent of customer care professionals say their contact centers are very strategic. In addition, both groups agree that customer service is key to brand identity, with 92 percent of C-level executives and 85 percent of customer-centric employees agreeing.

The majority or 73 percent of C-level executives however, overestimate the effort in their companies to measure customer lifetime value, compared to a smaller number of customer-level employees at 60 percent.

When it comes to measurement and actual performance, most C-level executives underestimate the emphasis their organization places on efficiency and overestimate how easy their organization makes it for customers to purchase during interactions.

In fact, 55 percent of C-level executives believe their operations use average speed to answer as a critical measure, compared to 70 percent of customer care professionals. On a global basis, 67 percent of all organizations considered this a key metric.

Among C-level executives, 41 percent believe that they measure the experience in self-service by quality rather than just cost savings. By comparison, only 35 percent of customer service professionals believe the same.

Another 36 percent of C-level executives think that their customer service is measured on revenue per call. In reality, only 28 percent of customer service professionals validated that notion. Considering global respondents, 30 percent report that they measure revenue per call.

It is not unusual in the organization for those at the top to be somewhat removed from what is actually happening on the front line of customer service. Such a disconnect can have its consequences however, as it puts more pressure on contact center managers to prove their needs and their value to those in upper management.

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