May 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Customer service looks different from the trenches than from the C-suite

There are major gaps between executives and customer service professionals when it comes to how they view customer service operations, according to a new study from Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc.

There are major gaps between executives and customer service professionals when it comes to how they view customer service operations, according to a new study from Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc.

Genesys surveyed executives and customer service employees from 927 companies in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region and reported the results in “The Executive Disconnect: The Strategic Alignment of Customer Service.” The results showed a significant gap between the perceptions of CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and CTOs and their customer service managers and personnel.

For example, while 78% of executives think their company is doing a good job of gathering customer feedback on their companies’ products or services and passing that information on to the sales team, only 62% of customer-service professionals agree.

Additionally, 92% of executives say customer service is key to brand identity, compared with 85% of employees working directly with customers.

Other findings include:

• 79% of companies plan to add services and functions to their customer service operations, including business processes focused on customer-centric needs (37%), web chat (25%), and virtualization (21%). More European companies (87%) say they plan to add services than their U.S. counterparts (77%).

• 63% of companies try to base decisions on customer lifetime value. 73% of European companies base decisions on customer lifetime value, compared to 61% of U.S. companies. 73% of executives believe decisions are based on lifetime value versus 60% of managers.

• Adding efficiency metrics is the number one goal in contact center reporting, with nearly 58% of companies planning to do so. 45% want to identify the reasons customers contact customer service, 43% want to better understand how customers interact with customer service, and 37% want to take advantage of improved caller segmentation to identify high value customers so they can better serve their needs. U.S. companies (61%) are more likely than European companies (44%) to collect basic efficiency measures, such as the average time to answer a call, the average duration of a call, and how often problems are resolved on the first call.

• 38% of companies plan to improve efficiency metrics in the next 18 months. 36% want to know why the customer called, 34% aim to gain insight into how customer-service reps handle the calls, and 34% want to understand how callers interact with the customer-service reps.

Genesys also found that companies are offering a variety of contact channels to customers, with three in four companies offering e-mail and inbound phone service. U.S. companies were significantly more likely to use e-mail and inbound phone service than European companies. Web chats also were more prevalent in the U.S.

The survey was conducted by Equation Research on behalf of Genesys, a customer service software provider.

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