Australian consumers are increasingly likely to turn to mobile and online alternatives, such as smartphone apps, social media, and websites, over traditional customer service channels, according to business communications and collaboration systems provider, Avaya.
The vendor’s fifth Asia-Pacific Customer Experience Index (formerly the Contact Centre Consumer Index), indicates that 60 per cent of Australian consumers look to resolve their queries via a company’s website prior to contacting a service centre. This figure is higher among Gen Y consumers, at 72 per cent.
Web chat usage has also increased, and the proportion of Australians who believe they will be using web chat more often in the next few years has increased from 14 per cent in 2011 to 20 per cent in 2012.
Avaya points out that the use of customer service apps on smartphones and other portable devices reinforces the suggestion that mobility should be a key focus for customer service professionals. Reasons for their growth include: convenient, fun to use, good for simple queries, and easy to use.
“Web-based service offerings, including live chat, and smartphone apps linked to live agents, will become increasingly important tools in the battle to win long-term customer loyalty in Australia,” Avaya Australia and New Zealand managing director, Tim Gentry, said.
Although social media usage in customer service interactions is still relatively new, it has doubled to eight per cent in the last 12 months. A general observation of Facebook, for example, can demonstrate an evident increase in both consumers resorting to the medium, and organisations dedicating resources to respond to queries.
Despite the decline in direct and immediate contact to call centres, 42 per cent of consumers responded that they would be prepared to pay more money to a company that always provides excellent customer service.
Regardless, only 28 per cent of Australian consumers agree with the statement that “the service I receive from customer service centres has improved over the last 12 months”, compared to 44 per cent across Asia-Pacific. Additionally, 57 per cent agree that “interacting with customer service centres is always problematic.”
Not surprisingly, 72 per cent agree that “if I had a choice I would always try to avoid using an automated phone system.”
“Voice remains the number one priority for more complex queries, so it’s imperative Australian service organisations prepare themselves accordingly,” Gentry said.