Although Call Centres are an essential part of business and often a customer’s first interface to an organisation, the survey found that 58% still viewed Call Center services as only a contributor to cost rather than a valuable tool to improve customer satisfaction and ultimately create a competitive edge.
These results are comparable to an earlier UK Wicom survey conducted in August 2005, which found that a majority of UK business considered their contact centre to be a drain on resources and finances. Only a small proportion of respondents stated that their Call Centres are a source of generating new business and maintaining existing customer relations in both Germany and the UK.
However, in Germany these views were not consistent across all industries. While respondents in the banking and manufacturing sectors still saw Contact Centers as a cost factor, 57% of respondents within retail felt their customer service function within the Contact Centre played a vital role as a profit centre.
Interestingly, financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies showed more willingness to evaluate and implement new technologies. Over half of the respondents expressed an interest to move away from just physical based centres to a mixture between fixed and
virtual Call Centres.
New Call Centre technologies are seen to bring advantages to organisations by enabling them to organise their customer service in more effective ways and thus add value to their customers. In particular, Financial Services and Retail see the opportunity of Voice over IP for their customer service operations. In fact, over 80% of companies in these sectors see the advantage in moving away from a physical inbound call centre and routing calls through to key specialists with the right skills irrespective of
location or country borders.
The transport sector showed the most reluctance towards these new technologies, while a leading majority still ran centrally-managed physical
based call centers. “Many companies are still hesitant to switch their customer services from standard telephony to Voice over IP,” commented Stephan Bahr, Regional Sales Manager at Wicom for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
“Most companies still only consider the investment side of adopting and implementing new technologies. However, the key advantage of Voice over IP technology is that if offers companies means to reorganise customer service
in order to communicate more efficiently and flexibly with customers,” added Mr. Bahr.
Interestingly, many companies surveyed indicated that there is a lot of room for improvement within their Call Centres: with 58% of respondents voting their customer service as ‘very bad’ to ‘okay’. Only the retail sector in Germany was more positive. One in three respondents in this sector rated their customer service levels as ‘very good’.