Study: Bad service loses business quickly

MANILA (11/06/2003) - In a new study on the impact of a call center service on a company's revenue potential, 85 percent of the consumers surveyed worldwide said they will move to another vendor once they have a bad experience with the customer care service of their current vendors.

According to the study, conducted by call center software maker Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc., consumers identify call center agents as the "face" of a company and base their purchasing and loyalty decisions largely on the quality of service they get rather than on any other company or product attribute.

Ad Nederlof, Genesys chief executive officer, in an interview with Computerworld Philippines, said the survey illustrated some of the frustrations consumers experience when dealing with poorly operated call centers.

Based on the survey, which collected 2,367 responses from consumers worldwide, consumers will tend to "repurchase" from a company more if they get good customer service rather than if they get a good product. About 89 percent of those surveyed said they will repurchase a company's products, even if these are bad, as long as they are getting good customer service. Only 78 percent of consumers said they will buy from the same vendor again even if the customer service is ineffective so long as the product is good.

If a company has bad products and an ineffective call center, it will get repurchase orders only from 32 percent of the consumers surveyed.

The same survey showed that about 80 percent of consumers believe customer service representatives play a significant role in influencing their opinion of a company. When asked about what makes consumers loyal to a company, the majority or 56 percent of the respondents said "good service" is the most important criteria, far ahead than "good product" which got a rating of 28 percent, "good price" with a rating of 7 percent, and "trusted brand" with only 3 percent.

Nederlof said many companies still fail to see the importance of good customer service. More than 85 percent of the survey respondents said they have had a negative experience with call centers. Many call center agents are also undervalued in many companies, he said.

Over 51 percent of call center agents said management only pays them a visit of from zero to five hours a month.

"The importance of call center agents are undervalued in a company. The reality is that they are communication experts. They can tell the state of a company's products better than anybody else," said Nederlof.

Consumers are largely frustrated with three things when dealing with a call center service. One of these is the long waiting time, another is repeating their information every time they are passed on to another agent, and the third is the perception that there is no personalized service being given them, said Nederlof.

Based on the Genesys survey, 72 percent of consumers have entered their account numbers into their phones and then were asked to repeat it.

"This survey should be seen as a call for action for businesses," Nederlof said.

Local office Nederlof was in the country last week to meet local clients and visit Genesys' new local office, which opened last month. The new office is part of the company's expansion into the Asian region.

Genesys is very keen on growing the firm's business in the Philippines and aligning its efforts with the country's bid to become a leading provider of outsourced call center services. The local market is very small, Nederlof said, with only a few large businesses set up here, but the real opportunity is in the outsourcing market, where the Philippines is already a top contender.

Some of the positive things going for the Philippines in its call center outsourcing bid, according to the Genesys CEO, are its education system, the English proficiency of local workers, competitive rates, and the general customer-oriented culture of Filipinos.

But if there is one factor dragging the country down, it is political instability, which is perceived abroad to be much worse than it really is, said Nederlof. The government, he believes, should play a more active role in promoting the country outside and attracting more call center players.

He added that the government should bring more business here rather than letting its people deal with businesses outside the country. The Philippines can provide more than just call centers, other work can also be outsourced in the country, he said.

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