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Customer service: huge gap between C-suite and operations

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When it comes to aligning the executive suite with the customer service organisation, there is a significant gap between what C-level executives promise and what customer service organisations see. 

This is according to the results of a worldwide survey titled "The Executive Disconnect: The Strategic Alignment of Customer Service," which takes an indepth look at businesses across key regions worldwide.
To provide perspective on the issue, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories surveyed a group of C-level executives and compared their responses to the customer-centric professionals who are much closer to the front lines, such as contact centre managers, directors of customer care, sales managers, sales directors and marketing directors.
The survey found a significant gap between C-level perceptions and the reality experienced by most of their customers.
In examining the strategic versus the operational role, customer care professionals and executives overwhelmingly agree that customer service impacts the company’s brand identity, yet very few think their customer service acts mainly as a strategic function.
Only 20% of CEO-level executives and 20% of customer care professionals say their contact centres are very strategic, but both groups agree that customer service is key to brand identity – with 92% of C-level executives and 85% of customer-centric employees agreeing.
However, C-level executives (73%) overestimate the effort in their companies to measure customer lifetime value, compared to a smaller number of customer-level employees (60%).
In measuring revenue and customer experience versus speed and efficiency, most C-level executives underestimate the emphasis their organisation places on efficiency, and overestimate how easy their organisation makes it for customers to purchase during interactions.
For example, 55% of C-level executives believe their operations use average speed to answer as a critical metric, compared to 70% of customer service professionals. On a worldwide basis 67% of all organisations 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.
On the subject of capturing customer feedback, there is a major (16%) 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%.
On a positive note many companies have already implemented or plan to initiate priority projects over next 18 months, 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.
There are two significant areas of investment that are helping companies become more dynamic – extending customer service to branch offices and virtualisation.
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 centres worldwide are currently virtualising by operating multiple contact centres 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 virtualising.