People are using call centres less and less for solving their problems and turning more and more to websites, social network pages or email exchanges with supplier companies.


When consumers encounter a problem with a product, have an issue to sort out or are looking to purchase a service, the company call centre is now far from being the only solution they turn to. It appears that 27% of customers surveyed for a study carried out by the US-based CFI Group stated that they tried to solve their problems a different way, resorting more and more to the Internet. The figures show that 42% try to find answers to their problems on websites, 26% use email, 12% go to online chat sites and 5% try Facebook, before thinking about physically going off in search of a solution (9%) or tweeting for help on Twitter (3%). This trend has plateaued since 2010, with the exception of email use, which has dipped two percentage points. “We feel the drop is due to an increasing number of easier calls being offloaded to self-service channels like the Web, leaving the more complex cases going to the call centres,” explained Terry Redding, Director of Development and Delivery for the CFI Group. The findings are from the CFI Group’s annual American Call Center Satisfaction Index report, which tries to pinpoint how customer relations with call centres are evolving.

Social networks don’t always change brand reputations

It seems that customers have no hesitation in going out to a variety of sources to obtain answers to their questions, nor are they shy about sharing their experiences on the social networks. This isn’t as negative or risky for the company as you might think. In terms of volume, consumers who share details of their encounters do so more often when the experience has been a positive one, and 67% of them seem to be that way. This is a substantial figure when you consider that 45% of all consumers now share with others the experiences they have had with a brand. And among this group, 33% do so via social networks. This figure is likely to increase given that the younger generation are becoming active consumers and those aged 35 years or over are becoming more and more at ease with social networks.

Sharing culture puts pressure on customer satisfaction

But it is still a fact that call centres remain an important aspect of customer service. Evidence indicates that a dissatisfied customer doesn’t stay loyal for long. Compared with 2010, we see that in 2011 the customer satisfaction index was down by one percentage point, followed by an equal drop in willingness to recommend the brand to a friend if the brand’s call centre did not provide a satisfactory service, and a loss of two points for loyalty. We can also see that some types of contact with a brand are shared more than others. And in spite of the large volume of positive experiences being shared, we see that the majority (62%) of call centre stories that are shared are in fact about calls involving a complaint, followed by product orders (51%), technical help on a site (51%) and checking the status of an order (50%).