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Customer satisfaction falls despite call center efforts

A focus on the customer experience over the past year is probably the cause of a significant drop in customer satisfaction levels in the contact center, according to a report issued this week.

The Global Contact Center Benchmarking report found that customer satisfaction levels dropped from 82% last year to 68%. However, that might be a good thing, according to Cara Diamond, editor of the report.

"We think it's not so much because customers are not happy, but because contact centers are doing a better job of measuring satisfaction," she said. "They're more realistic and better at understanding scores. People are paying more attention to analytics, recorded calls and automated survey options. It's a positive for the industry. It shows they're focusing on the customer experience and doing things that will make a difference."

Conducted by Dimension Data plc, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based IT services firm, the report surveyed 403 contact centers across the globe. This was the tenth year the organization issued its report and, on top of the drop in satisfaction levels, there were some other major changes from last year.

"There was a big jump, unfortunately downwards, in the rate of first-call resolution," Daemon said. "A lot of people measure first-call resolution as a whole. That takes into account all the transfers, bumping callers from one agent to another or [to another] site."

First-call resolution on an agent level -- that is having the issue resolved by the initial agent -- dropped from 87% to 70% this year.

"While people are focused on first-call resolution, there's been quite a lot of effort to look at it as a whole," DeMint said. "Perhaps the next wave is to concentrate on the once-and-done philosophy. It's important having business rules in place, identifying who the caller is, who the best agent is, and all the routing strategies."

Internet protocol (IP) continues to be a major issue for contact centers as well. More than 60% reported they have IP-based PBX/ACDs, up from 50% last year.

"The path to IP is something contact centers continue to be walking down," Dumont said. "The top reason people give is not actually cost savings, but around the flexibility of their architecture, which says a lot of things about the way they're making decisions. They're probably trying to tie in with a broader enterprise technology strategy."

According to the report, 69% chose IP because of the flexibility of its architecture. In addition, 60% of contact centers have an architecture separate from the wider enterprise.