The executive suite and the customer service organization are misaligned, with a significant gap between what C-level executives promise and the reality of customer service, according to the results of a worldwide survey by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories.
Titled “The Executive Disconnect: The Strategic Alignment of Customer Service,” the study surveyed a group of C-level executives (CEO/CIO/CFO/CTO) and compared their responses to the customer-centric professionals who are much closer to the front lines (Contact Centre Managers/Directors of Customer Care/Sales Managers and Directors/Marketing Directors).
Some highlights, below, from the study of businesses across key regions worldwide, including major markets in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.
Strategic vs. Operational Role
Customer care professionals and executives overwhelmingly agree that customer service has an impact on the company’s brand identity, yet very few think that their customer service acts mainly as a strategic function.
- Just 20% of CEO-level executives and 20% of customer-care professionals say their contact centers are very strategic.
- Both groups agree that customer service is key to brand identity – with 92% of C-level executives and 85% of customer-centric employees agreeing.
- But C-level executives (73%) overestimate the effort in their companies to measure customer lifetime value, compared with a smaller number of customer-level employees (60%).
Measuring Revenue and Customer Experience vs. Speed and Efficiency
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.
- For example, 55% of C-level executives say their operations use average speed to answer as a critical metric, compared with 70% of customer service professionals. Worldwide, 67% of all organizations considered this a key metric.
- Among C-level executives, 41% think they measure the experience in self-service by quality rather than just cost savings, but only 35% of customer service professionals think so.
- At the same time, 36% of C-level executives think their customer service is measured on revenue per call, when in reality only 28% of customer service professionals validate that notion. Among global respondents, 30% say they measure revenue per call.
Capturing Customer Feedback
There is a major (16 percentage point) gap between C-level execs who believe they are capturing important customer feedback, and the views of customer service professionals.
- While 78% of C-level execs think their company is doing a good job of collecting information on customer and market needs and passing it on to sales, only 62% of customer service professionals agree.
- Interestingly, on a regional basis, Germany is the leader, as 75% of companies have processes for systematically passing on customer feedback, followed by Asia, France and Spain at 74%.
Finding a Cure
On a positive note many companies have already implemented, or plan to initiate over the next 18 months, priority projects to address misalignment.
- More than 28% of the companies surveyed have or will add “click for a call back” capability, and in Germany a surprising 54% of companies say they will or do support it.
- To support proactive business management, nearly 30% of those surveyed plan to enable information consoles to provide real-time views that leverage customer data across the entire enterprise.
- And 36% of companies worldwide plan to improve visibility into customer processes by identifying the root causes behind customer interactions and behaviors through analytics.
Leveraging the Entire Organization
Two significant areas of investment are helping companies become more dynamic – extending customer service to branch offices and virtualization.
- Over 28% of the companies surveyed are already moving to incorporate branch offices to expand the pool of resources available during high volume periods.
- Regionally, the UK is the leader, where 39% of companies are doing so followed by Spain at 38%.
- Nearly 40% of contact centers worldwide are currently virtualizing by operating multiple contact centers as a single entity, or plan to do so.
- Asia Pacific and the UK are the leaders in this, with 49% and 50% of companies respectively virtualizing.
About the study: The survey was conducted between April 1 and May 9, 2008 for Alcatel-Lucent company Genesys by an independent research firm, Equation Research. Genesys will release and regional drill-down results separately via individual reports for selected countries. The research covers 47 countries and 927 participating companies; it sought to better understand the challenges in strategically aligning customer service with the business goals of the company.
The participants comprised senior C-level titles and management contributors from a variety of markets, including financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, government, retail, manufacturing, technology, and education.
Approximately one-third of the participants were from companies with 500 agents or less, while another third were from very large organizations with 2,500 agents or more. The size of companies’ customer service operations ranged from under 100 to more than 10,000 employees, and respondents included more than 1,500,000 contact center agents, as well as back office, branch, and field-level support professionals.