The study was conducted by Interactive Intelligence in March/April 2014. The sample was 1,462 individuals who had had a non-personal interaction with a business in the last 12 months. The consumers were from eight different countries; Australia, Germany, South Africa, UK, USA, Canada, Brazil and Sweden.
These were two of the key findings:
- The method preferred most by consumers when interacting with customer service or support, regardless of their country origin, is having a live agent via phone.
- Overall, consumers most frequently found that not being able to understand the agent when speaking on the phone was very frustrating.
Which channels do you prefer to use to contact customer service or support?
When asked of consumers, the method they preferred most when interacting with customer service or support is having a live agent via phone. This sentiment is truly global, applying in all countries in which consumers were surveyed.
Which of the following are most likely to be frustrating for you when you contact a business or service provider?
Overall, consumers most frequently found that not being able to understand the agent when speaking on the phone and an agent who is condescending or demanding were the most frustrating situations.
Differences by country were not significant. Brazilian consumers found initial long wait times most objectionable. For South African consumers, an agent who doesn’t have the knowledge to answer their questions would prompt them to seek an alternative business or service provider and being transferred multiple times was another top frustration.
Comment by Accent Labs:
Understanding what agents are saying is a universal problem, whether in a sales or customer service environment. The need to improve first call resolution, customer satisfaction and call duration is critical and an agent with an English accent that is difficult to understand can have a seriously detrimental effect on key customer satisfaction and operational metrics. This is especially true in South Africa and many other developing countries where the great majority of young agents entering the industry do not have English as their mother tongue.
Accent Labs has developed an online accent modification course that helps contact centre agents to speak English more intelligibly and with greater confidence. The result is agents who will be more understandable when interacting with callers, but the course also increases the agents’ ability to understand what the caller is saying, thereby helping the conversation to be a constructive two way communication. The Accent Labs course also improves screen navigation skills.
In South African there is a strong movement towards increasing job opportunities amongst the youth in disadvantaged communities which have high unemployment. This is especially critical in the growing contact centre industry where there is a shortage of experienced agents who can speak English well. A common factor that emerges when training young people from these communities is that their English accents are not good, which severely limits their opportunities to even qualify for entry level jobs in the industry.
The Accent Labs course can help significantly to resolve this problem and can also help to improve the performance of agents who are already working but are hampered by the effect of their mother tongue on their English accent.
To read the complete summary of the research results go to: www.inin.com/resources/Documents/Customer-Service-Experience-Research-Study.pdf