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Forcing Consumers to Use Alternative, "Cost-Saving" Contact Channels Backfires

Research Report by Ember Services and Sponsored by Sword Ciboodle Reveals that Customers Prefer Phone-Based Communication for Support and Service

PRLog - Sep. 28, 2011 - BOSTON -- Organizations that try to save money by forcing customers to use lower-cost channels, thereby restricting their access to phone-based customers service, risk customer defection and routinely fail to achieve their cost saving targets.  So concludes new research conducted by customer management consultancy Ember Services on behalf of Sword Ciboodle.  In contrast, organizations that offer multiple channels, enabling customers to choose how they use them are experiencing significant cost savings and enhanced levels of customer satisfaction.

The research, carried out among directors of more than 30 leading organizations that have adopted alternative channels, cites the following as top performers:

•   National Rail Enquiries, which has seen customer enquiries grow by 343% over nine years yet still achieved a fourfold reduction in operating cost by migrating 80% of all contacts to the web.
•   Since co-locating its online and contact centre teams, Surrey County Council has grown the percentage of enquires handled online from 85% to 94% and reduced its average cost per enquiry by 38%.
•   Home Depot, which estimates that it has deflected 15 million potential telephone calls and helped solve 8,500 customer problems via Twitter.

“None of these companies have abandoned the telephone channel or restricted its availability,” says Ember’s founder and Director, Mike Havard. ”Instead they have identified those tasks customers are happy to complete by other means and encouraged them to do so.  Customers are happy to use alternative channels, but expect to do so on their own terms.  “Companies that restrict customer choice will suffer their disapproval.”

The research report offers the following advice for organizations planning multi-channel strategies:

•   Customers’ channel preferences are multiple, not singular and will change on a day-to-day basis according to their situation and the task they wish to complete.  Companies must offer multiple platform choices and make sure they are simultaneously available and linked, so that the customer experience is seamless across all channels.
•   Customers will embrace alternative channels if they see benefit for them as well as the provider.  Instead of forcing customers to use lower-cost channels by restricting their options, companies must analyze the drivers of ‘expensive’ phone-based or in-store interactions and deflect them by offering pro-active information via other channels.  This has the dual benefit of reducing an organization’s operating costs and boosting its service reputation.
•   Customers will typically revert to the telephone for complex or emotionally charged enquiries.  Therefore, companies must maintain a sustainable body of agents, invest appropriately to develop their skills and provide them with information and insight that will help them serve customers better.  This includes providing a single view of the customer’s interaction history across all channels, so that the service offered is ‘joined up’ and informed.
“The most important lesson to come out of this research is that offering customers true channel choice can provide a reliable route to simultaneous cost reduction and customer value enhancement,” says Mitch Lieberman, Market Strategy Director with Sword Ciboodle.  “The top performing businesses are not dictating their customers’ channel options, rather they are encouraging the use of lower cost channels only when there is mutual benefit.  In this way they are finding the multi-channel ‘win-wins’; where their desire to reduce cost meets their customers’ willingness to interact differently.  Investment in a multi-channel strategy is a clear benefit to both customers and businesses, leading to reduced transaction costs, improved reputation increased customer satisfaction and greater customer loyalty.”

Copies of the research report, ‘Why Multi-Channel Must Mean Multiple Choice’ are available from Sword Ciboodle.  Visit http://www.sword-ciboodle.com/en-us/cio/   or email info@sword-ciboodle.com  
Media Contact:
Liz Erk with The Jaxson Group

About Sword Ciboodle
Sword Ciboodle delivers award-winning, modular CRM software to contact centers worldwide for advanced customer engagement across multiple social channels. The Sword Ciboodle platform accelerates the ability to deliver consistent customer service, leading to exceptional customer experiences that reduce overall operational costs and achieve higher revenue.

Sword Ciboodle’s family of product offerings can be categorized into three service bundles; be served, be solo and be social. The company and its contact center software are consistently recognized by industry analysts as one of the world’s leading customer-centric solutions; featured by the prestigious Gartner Magic Quadrant, CRM Customer Service Contact Centers, for five consecutive years.


About Ember Services
Ember is a new kind of customer management consultancy focused on helping its clients to realise commercial value from their customer management activities.  It does so by identifying and then exploiting opportunities for cost reduction, revenue enhancement and improved customer worth.

In that respect Ember has an unashamedly financial focus and is committed to achieving tangible business benefits.  Its recommendations are backed by robust and detailed analysis as well as a clear outline of the financial benefits the client can expect to gain through implementation.  In this way Ember provides a clear business case for change, innovation and restructure.


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Sword Ciboodle delivers award-winning, modular CRM software to contact centers worldwide, enabling advanced customer engagement across multiple social channels. Sword Ciboodle has three tiers to empower your customers to be served, be solo, and be social.

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Source:Jaxson Group
Phone:857 222 6363
Location:Boston - Massachusetts - United States
Tags:crm, bpm, customer experience, Customer Service Experience
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