Call Centers ARE Doing a Better Job

San Diego:Despite rumors to the contrary, customer service through call centersis on the rise, according to survey results released this week atGenesys Telecommunications Laboratories' G-Force user conference here.

The survey, involving nearly 4,500 consumers throughout North America, Europe, Asia,and the Pacific, found that more than 61 percent of consumers see callcenters as doing a better job today than they did three years ago.

Only12 percent of respondents felt that the call center experience hadgotten worse. Among the reasons listed for bad experiences, 76 percentreported feeling pushed to use self-service systems; 67 percent citedlong hold times; 57 percent cited frustration with too many prompts orincorrect options; and 52 percent cited having to repeat informationthat they'd already given.

Butdespite their successes, companies can and should do more to make theircustomer service more proactive, noted Nicholas DeKouchovsky, directorof marketing and business development at Genesys.

Inthe survey, 89 percent of consumers expressed a desire for moreproactive communications by companies, either by phone, email, Webchat, or SMS text message. A full 95 percent of respondents said theywould even be receptive to cross-selling or up-selling opportunities,depending on the context and communication method. When asked how theywould like to be contacted, 82 percent said the phone, followed byemail (78 percent); Web chat (28 percent); and text message to a cellphone (2 percent).

The nextgeneration of customer service, therefore, will need to be moremultichannel, incorporating phone, email, Web chat, SMS text message,and more. "The Internet and contact center need to come together,"DeKouchovsky said.

Facilitatingthose types of interactions is the expansion of VoiceXML as theplatform of choice for many call center applications. "Clearly,VoiceXML is taking off," said Wes Hayden, president and CEO of Genesys,noting that about 500 Genesys customers are currently using VoiceXMLtied into the company's VoiceGenie product.

"Genesysembraced VoiceXML very early on and is committed to developing itfurther, explained David Radoff, director of public relations andanalyst relations at Genesys. "We're finding the tipping point earlierthan 2008, seeing more companies switching over to VXML sooner."

Still,Daniel Hong, a senior analyst at Datamonitor, predicted that mostcompanies will have switched over by 2009, mainly because of theflexibility that VoiceXML provides. "The beauty behind VXML is thenumber of vendors supporting it, so there's a lot of flexibility interms of whom you go with," he said. "There's also a very large amountof choice in the tools and development, with a lot of drag-and-dropgraphic user interfaces."

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