February 29, 2012
IT Managers Rank Customer Service Over Costs in Survey
By Chris Freeburn
TMCnet Web Editor
Interaction management solution developer Enghouse (News - Alert) Interactive today unveiled its first Enghouse Interactive Customer Interaction Index. According to the company, the Index reviews the current customer interactions landscape among U.S. business seen through the eyes of technology decision-makers. The survey questioned 227 senior IT professionals at U.S companies with annual revenues of between $50 million and $1 billion. The survey was conducted by public opinion research firm Kelton Research for Enghouse Interactive.
Despite their professional focus on information technology, a super-majority of IT decision makers cited customer service as more critical to business than controlling costs. Emphasizing the point that U.S. businesses see value in maintaining customer service, fully 65 percent of IT decision-makers told the survey that they encountered pressure from their companies’ management to provide good customer service.
“Currently, most U.S. businesses are pushing for better customer service, which is extremely positive,” commented Enghouse Interactive CTO, Alex Black (News - Alert) in a company statement. “But businesses are in transition. They need to incorporate new methods of customer interactions into their portfolio. We can see from the data that newer technologies like mobile apps and social media are being treated seriously even though they currently make up a minority of customer interactions. The major concern we have is that newer technologies could make customer interactions more siloed if they are not handled within the context of a broader plan which can incorporate structured, unstructured and self-service interactions.”
The survey found that e-mail eclipses call center interactions as a crucial point of customer to company communication with 84 percent of respondents list email as most important, compared to 67 percent for call centers Mobile applications, by contrast, are having a tougher time finding acceptance among U.S. firms. 65 percent of respondents described mobile applications an important to their companies, but only seven percent indicated that they were a primary communication channel for their firms. Additionally, the survey indicated that non-traditional media, including social media, served as the primary customer communication point for just two percent of businesses surveyed.
Perhaps in contrast to what consumers might say, 93 percent of IT decision-makers rated their company’s customer interactions as good or excellent. Enghouse noted that these results possibly reflected a disconnect between what IT professionals think about consumer opinion compared to the reality.
The survey looked at three distinct classifications of customer interactions: structured, unstructured and self-service. Structured interactions represent high volume, low value transactions, usually handled by contact centers. Unstructured interactions represent low volume, high value transactions that require consultation and communication. 63 percent of IT decision-makers reported good handling of structured interactions. 22 percent said they were most comfortable with self-service interactions. The survey found a 50/50 split between the companies who group different types of interactions together versus those consider them separately when adopting new software solutions.
The study also noted that despite considerable media promotion and much discussion among businesses and IT professionals, a mere seven percent of businesses reported any cloud-based applications, possibly indicating continued resistance to cloud services among businesses.
Edited by Rich Steeves