Industry Benchmarks Report Reveals Why Call Centers Keep Failing Customers
Liveops releases survey of 750+ customer service leaders; two-thirds are behind the curve
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 — Scottsdale, Arizona — Liveops today released the 2018 Call Center Industry Report, revealing why so many call centers fail to meet customer expectations: they continue using traditional agent hiring, incentive and payment practices that undermine service excellence.
For example, 3 in 5 call center leaders do not have an optimized call quality assurance process. And only 31% of the more than 750 call center industry leaders surveyed said they have fully optimized their agent incentive programs.
The Call Center Industry Report presents a broad view of call centers based on a 12-question self-assessment. Results categorized call centers in four stages:
- Traditional: The company has little formal feedback process around customer experience.
- Developing: The company has taken a few steps toward implementing a formal customer experience program.
- Mature: The company holds the workforce accountable for their scores and the service delivered to customers.
- Optimized: The company’s customer experience is a dynamic and evolving part of the organization’s business processes.
The largest portion of respondents fell into the developing category (46%) and two-thirds of respondents overall were “behind the curve” in terms of evolving their traditional call center into a modern customer service operation that leverages national sourcing for agent quality, on-demand agents for flexibility, and progressive training and quality practices.
“Many companies in the developing stage settle at this point because they feel that they’re doing well,” said Greg Hanover, CEO of Liveops. “They might suspect there’s a better way, but they don’t see the value of it or a clear path to enhancing the customer experience.”
Why are call centers designed to deliver bad service?
The industry report reveals significant, systemic gaps in traditional call centers that undermine call quality. Customers’ chief complaints include long hold times, inexperienced or incapable agents, not being able to speak with a real person promptly, and not having their issue resolved quickly.
The report revealed that 79% of call centers pay agents on an hourly or salaried basis, as opposed to a per-minute rate based on actual talk time. As a result, 4 in 5 agents are paid regardless of whether they are helping customers.
As one might expect, this puts call center leaders in the position of either over-staffing to accommodate spikes in customer demand, or under-staffing and alienating customers by forcing them to spend long minutes or even hours on hold.
“Forecasting customer demand is a shot in the dark for most call centers,” said Greg Hanover, CEO of Liveops. “Companies that can’t answer promptly with highly qualified agents quickly lose credibility and customers.”
In fact, unplanned events accounted for 20% of the customer demand spikes that disrupted call centers. Together with seasonal fluctuations, more than half of customer demand spikes aren’t planned, and can massively undermine service.
Only 29% of the 750 customer service leaders surveyed said they were able to reliably forecast demand, and 31% admitted that long hold times were the result of unexpected demand.
“The traditional call center’s way of operating has taken a big toll on customer experience,” Hanover said. “We’re seeing large enterprises that are known for great service increasingly question how well their call centers perform. Customer experience leaders see their performance metrics eroded by high attrition, poor call handling and lack of business agility.”
Hanover said the driving force behind enterprise adoption of flexible, virtual call center services such as Liveops is the link between customer satisfaction and the revenue. A recent report by McKinsey noted that companies realized a 10% to 15% increase in revenue and a 20% jump in customer satisfaction when they made experiences a priority.
“This survey of the industry validates what we’re hearing from the market on a daily basis,” Hanover added. “The bottom line is that call centers must evolve with the increased expectations of customers.”
Liveops offers an on-demand skilled workforce of onshore virtual agents for customer service and sales. With no call center overhead or wasted idle time, our pay-per-use model scales to meet seasonal or time of day spikes in demand. More than 400 organizations across service industries including retail, healthcare, insurance and telecom trust Liveops to deliver an enterprise-grade workforce, with faster program readiness, increased revenue, and greater customer satisfaction scores than traditional call centers.