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Contact Centre Realities Volume 1

Industry insights for success with self-service

A research study of consumer attitudes and how

European Contact Centres are managing self-service

Copyright © 2004 Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Reproduction or disclosure in whole or part is permitted only with the express written consent of Genesys.
At Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, we understand
how critical customer loyalty has become in sustaining
competitive advantage. Now more than ever, the value of
relationships determines business success. Furthermore, the
nature of relationships between customers and suppliers is
evolving due to emerging technologies.

Increased investment in self-service has created a business environment where

transactions are increasingly automated and human interaction is often rare,
creating unique pressures for building meaningful customer relationships.
Despite the challenges presented by increased automation, self-service delivers
the flexibility, accessibility, and choices your customers demand.

To assess how the world’s leading contact centres are addressing today’s
challenges, we have undertaken an industry research study of contact centre
managers, customer service executives, and everyday consumers.

I am pleased to present this comprehensive report on the findings for European

contact centres. It is interesting to note that self-service and multi-channel
customer care ranked as the most important business priorities for contact
centres, just as consumers rated self-service systems to be a critical determinant
of satisfaction.

I hope you’ll take some time to digest the wealth of market intelligence in this
report, compiled from interviews with over 230 European customer service
executives. Their thoughts and ideas provide useful insights in succeeding with
self-service, and we greatly appreciate their involvement. I trust you will find
the results valuable.

Wes Hayden
President & Chief Executive Officer
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc.

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service

Executive Summary 4

Introduction and scope 6

Profile of respondents 7
Country or region of origin 7
Primary vertical market 7
Contact centre size 7
Consumer profile 8

The importance of self-service 9

Business priority or business imperative? 9
Meeting customer expectations for self-service 12
Customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction 15
What inhibits more use of self-service? 17
Too much self-service? 18

Investing in self-service 19
Automating more 19
Choosing who can self-serve 19
The customer experience 20
Internet self-service 21
Consistency in multi-channel customer care 21
Being accessible in times of need 22

Speech recognition 25
Key drivers for speech 25
Types of speech applications 26
Resistance to speech 26
Building a business case 27
Consumer acceptance of speech 27
Results with speech recognition 30

Conclusion 31
Where to go for more information 32

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Executive Summary

Customer self-service technologies have received a mixed Importance of self-service

response in Europe over the past two decades. While many
• Self-service proved to be a very high priority for the
contact centres have embraced touchtone IVR systems and
majority of respondents, with 68% rating it an extremely
internet technologies in order to reduce costs and meet high or very high priority
customer service expectations, many others have resisted
implementing these technologies for fear of a negative • European contact centre managers demonstrate a
reluctance to encourage self-service as much as their US
impact on customer satisfaction. Profound cost savings can
counterparts. They are 50% less likely to expect self-
be achieved with self-service, and increasingly intelligent service to be acceptable for their customers
technologies enable the provision of additional services
that can make organisations more accessible to customers, • Yet, across Europe the highest priority for contact centre
executives is enhancing multi-channel customer care and
however some European cultures demonstrate a reluctance
investing in self-service
to give up personalised human service.
• The majority indicated that their self-service strategy
Meanwhile North American and Australian contact centres was more about reducing the cost of servicing customers
are steaming ahead with more self-service implementations, rather than improving the customer experience. The
with internet and speech-enabled IVRs creating whole new opposite was found to be the case in North America
possibilities for customers to take control of their own service • Executives are increasingly acknowledging that high
experience. Given earlier trends in technology adoption it’s quality self-service is an imperative for satisfying and
almost inevitable that these technologies will become more retaining customers. Self-service is becoming the
prevalent across Europe. number one method for customers to interact with many
So how are self-service technologies being used today and • Broadly speaking that means the quality of self-service
what opportunities exist for customer service executives to systems and the accessibility of organisations is the new
improve customer satisfaction and drive down operational battleground for market competition
costs? What opportunities exist with speech recognition
technology? And what do consumers think of self-service? Customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction
To find out how the world’s leading customer service executives • 67% of consumers consider a company’s website a highly
are meeting these challenges, Genesys commissioned a global important factor for their satisfaction
study of contact centre self-service strategies. 640 contact • 52% of consumers believe they would be highly likely
centre and customer service executives from 20 countries to stop using an organisation if they had a frustratingly
were interviewed about their self-service systems and difficult to use IVR
strategies, and more than 1500 consumers were surveyed • 36% of executives believe the quality of self-service
about their self-service and contact centre experiences. systems can be the key determinant of whether customers
continue doing business with their organisation
Scope • Executives seem to underestimate customers’ tolerance for
call transfers
This report presents the key findings from the European
component of this study, with an analysis of 235 telephone
interviews with contact centre and customer service
Customer expectations for self-service
executives, and 1056 consumer surveys conducted by • Consumers prefer the internet for completing most tasks
telephone and the internet. A global report from this study, rather than speaking with the call centre
examining the trends and differences between major global • 74% of consumers consider speech-enabled IVRs a
regions is available by request, along with three further satisfactory alternative to 24-hour live agent service
reports analysing the results from North America, Asia- compared to 67% for IVRs
Pacific, and Australia and New Zealand.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
• Consumers aged over 65 are more likely to be unsatisfied Speech
with touchtone IVRs, yet they are far more likely than
younger consumers to be satisfied with speech enabled • 21% of organisations have already deployed speech
IVRs recognition technology or are developing their first
• Men demonstrate a greater preference for speech
recognition systems than women • Of those, 72% have more applications planned or under
consideration, and 75% have seen an increase in customer
• 82% of consumers consider it valuable to be able to satisfaction
request a call back when having problems on the web
• A further 23% of organisations are currently evaluating
• 25% believe it is essential to be able to send an email on the business case
the spot when using a website
• By the end of 2005, 29% of European and 50% of North
• 58% of consumers under 35 years consider text messaging American contact centres will have deployed speech
a valuable way to receive information from suppliers
• 71% of consumers think speech recognition works
satisfactorily or very well and 74% are happy to use it
The customer experience again
• With less two-way interaction with customers, supporting • 56% of consumers prefer speech to touchtone, and 34%
the brand and providing a consistent experience have have no preference
become major factors in maintaining customer loyalty
• 47% have had difficulty with websites and have not been Offshore outsourcing
able to get meaningful support or assistance over the
phone • 14% of organisations are currently using offshore
outsourcing, and 11% are evaluating it. 36% have no plans
• Executives are increasingly concerned about consistency to offshore and 35% say they definitely will not
of service across interaction channels, and are actively
pursuing solutions inside their organisations • Those executives who definitely will not offshore cite the
loss of local jobs and lack of local cultural understanding
• Consumers demonstrated that having to interact with as the most common reasons
computers is the least frustrating thing about touchtone
and speech enabled IVRs. It is the frustration of poor • Offshore outsourcing is explored in more detail in the
design that most annoys them global edition of this study which is available by request

Investing in self-service Conclusion

• At least 68% of organisations are planning to invest • Use of self-service channels will continue to expand and
considerably more in self-service this will redefine the nature of relationships and the types
of interactions in contact centres
• Of all organisations represented in this study, 67% rated
investment in multi-channel customer care a high or • Organisations will need to develop more reasons to
very-high priority, and 53% rate integrating web & call communicate with customers to maintain regular contact
centre systems a high priority and build a personal relationship
• Those organisations that lead with the most sophisticated
Internet self-service implementations of self-service can secure a competitive
• Most executives are planning further investment in
internet self-service in order to make their organisations
more accessible
• 37% of consumers expect their email to be replied to
within the same day
• 32% of executives have deployed or are considering web
• 31% of organisations are using web knowledgebase

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Introduction and Scope

Self-service technologies have been a great gift to contact contact centre and customer service executives from 20
centres and the people responsible for managing them over countries were interviewed about their self-service systems
the past two decades. While customer expectations for service and strategies, and more than 1500 consumers were surveyed
have steadily risen and markets have become increasingly about their self-service and contact centre experiences.
competitive, contact centre and customer service executives
This report presents the key findings from the European
have been able to consistently enhance service for customers
component of this study, with an analysis of 235 interviews
while simultaneously reducing costs. A stream of contact
with contact centre and customer service executives, and
centre technologies has enabled them to deliver increasingly
1056 consumer surveys. A global report examining the trends
lower operational costs to boards of management hungry for
and differences between major global regions is available by
opportunities to improve the bottom line.
request, along with three further reports analysing the results
Doing more-with-less has been enabled by key technologies from North America, Asia-Pacific, and Australia and New
like CTI, advanced call-routing, virtual call centres and Zealand.
workforce management, but probably the most profound
improvements have come from touchtone IVR systems and
internet technologies which have provided unprecedented
opportunities to serve customers at greatly reduced cost, and
make organisations more readily accessible.

But what about the customer experience? With the rise of

these technologies there has been growing concern about
the suitability of self-service technologies to European
culture, and many executives have demonstrated a reluctance
to deploy self-service technologies because of concerns
about dehumanising the relationship with customers. While
some have indeed embraced the opportunities that self-
service technologies offer, others have resisted because of the
apparent lack of personalisation. But regardless of how they
feel about the apparent lack of personalisation or otherwise,
almost all contact centre executives have been forced to
embrace self-service to some degree as the rising use of the
internet has created increasing customer expectations.

So what impact have self-service technologies had on

European contact centres? And with an ageing population
being replaced by younger technology-savvy generations,
how are contact centre executives approaching self-service
today? What opportunities exist for customer service
executives to improve customer satisfaction and drive down
operational costs? And what strategies and solutions are
proving to be successful?

To find out how the world’s leading customer service executives

are meeting these challenges, Genesys commissioned a global
study of contact centre self-service strategies. In order to
fully investigate the trends in the industry, more than 650

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Profile of respondents Total number of seats in your contact centres
The value of this self-service research study is reflected in
the diversity and size of the organisations that participated. 5,000 - 29,000 • 5%
In total 235 contact centre managers and customer service 5 - 50 • 21%
1,000 - 3,000 • 17%
executives from 14 countries and 19 different industries
were interviewed by telephone in October 2004. Of the
235 interviewed, 4% do not have an IVR in place, and 12%
do not have a functional website. This section profiles the 400 - 900 • 13%
operations of the respondents.
50 - 199 • 28%

Country orof region

Country or region origin of origin 200 - 399 • 16%

Benelux countries 39
France 39
Germany & Switzerland 38
Number of physical contact centre sites
Italy 27
Scandinavian countries 20 20+ • 6%
UK & Ireland 66
6 - 19 • 12%
Other 6
Number of respondents
1 • 44%

Primary vertical market

Primary vertical market
Finance – Banking 13%
Finance – Services 9% 2 - 5 • 38%
Finance – Insurance 7%
Telecommunications 8%
Wireless telecommunications 6%
Information technology 7% Number of physical contact center sites
Consulting & Business Services 7%
Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals 2%
Type of customers served
Call Centre & Business Outsourcing 6% Europe
Retail Trade 6%
Utilities - Energy/Gas/Sewage/Water 5%
Government & Not-for-profit 5%
Manufacturing - Consumer Goods 4%
Manufacturing - Industrial Goods 3% Both • 33%
Media 3%
Consumer services 3%
Transportation & freight 2%
Internet & eBusiness 2% Consumers • 51%
Travel & Tourism 2%
Percentage of respondents

Business • 16%
Contact centre size
Type of customers served
This study covered a wide range of contact centre sizes: from
5 seats at a single site, through to 29,000 seats across 144 sites.
The median size of operations was 200 seats and 2 sites.

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Consumer profile Age of consumer respondents
In October 2004, 1056 consumers were surveyed primarily
by telephone, with 20% surveyed via the internet. Of those 66+ • 6% 18-25 • 9%
1056 respondents 171 (16%) said they have never used the
telephone or the internet to make any inquiries or complete
45-65 • 26%
any transactions - with a very high percentage of those
coming from Italy, followed by Germany and Poland. 26-35 • 32%

885 interviews were completed with European residents

of 17 countries who at some time have used telephone or
internet self-service systems to make inquiries or complete
36-45 • 27%

Distribution of consumer respondents

Distribution of consumer respondents
Level of education
Benelux 127
Czech Republic 68 33%
France 73
Italy 121
Poland 105
Russia 41 19%
Scandinavia 96
Spain 89
UK & Ireland 84
# of consumer interviews completed


Post-graduate Under- Technical High-school Lower

degree graduate degree
degree (Diploma)

Employment Status Status
Full-time employed 48%
Self-employed 11%
Part-time employed 11%
Casually employed 3%
Studying 5%
Retired 13%
Unemployed 9%

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
The Importance of Self-Service

organisations are realising that the service quality they deliver

Business priority
to customers is becoming increasingly important to retain
or business imperative? and attract them. Being accessible and easy to interact with
are key elements of providing that service quality.
The two most fundamental objectives for all contact centre
managers are reducing costs and improving customer Some respondents also highlighted the key role that touchtone
satisfaction. Not surprisingly, respondents to this study said and speech-enabled IVRs played in assisted service by
these were the two key business drivers for investing in self- delivering callers more quickly and accurately to the most
service systems. appropriate agents. Many organisations who explained they
had limited telephony self-service highlighted that they had a
When asked why self-service was a high priority, 65%
very simple IVR for routing calls.
of respondents indicated their self-service strategy was
more about reducing costs rather than meeting customer The relative importance of self-service was borne out by
expectations and improving their experience. Interestingly, both the attitudes of customer service executives and the
the opposite was found to be the case in North America where expectations of consumers.
60% of respondents prioritised the customer experience ahead
of cost saving. Couple this with a higher rate of deployment, Executives were asked to rate relative priorities on a scale
and a stronger consumer preference for self-service and we of 1 through 5, with the higher number reflecting a higher
see that the North American markets appear to demonstrate priority. It’s interesting to note that while the range of
greater maturity. difference is minimal, comparatively speaking, self-service
is rated as a very significant business priority with 68% of
Comparatively between European regions it was interesting respondents rating it a high or very-high priority. Only 14%
to note the DACH region had the strongest orientation to of respondents rated self-service a low priority.
cost ahead of the customer experience, while Italy clearly had
the strongest orientation in the opposite direction with more Enhancing multi-channel customer care rated equally as high
executives considering their self-service strategy to be more as self-service, possibly reflecting an expectation that multi-
about the customer experience. channel customer care is not generally as prevalent in Europe
as it is in North America and Asia-Pacific. Combined with
When talking about cost savings, executives most regularly other findings of this study, it would seem evident that there
cited the advantage of improving productivity and reducing is a growing trend to investing more in the internet self-
agent numbers; while the improvement to the customer service capabilities that create multi-channel customer care
experience was explained by the ability to make the issues. This and the related issues will be explored later in
organisation more accessible to customers – providing them the report.
with more control, independence and flexibility.

This drive towards accessibility is an interesting trend that is How much of a priority are these contact centre
emerging in contact centres across the globe. Increasingly, issues?
How much of a priority are these contact centre issues?

industry leaders are citing this as a key priority for their Europe Benelux DACH France Italy Scandi- UK/
navian Ireland
future plans, and there may be a few reasons for this. First,
Enhancing multi- 3.9 4.3 3.9 3.6 4.0 4.1 3.6
it may demonstrate a level of maturity for some contact channel customer care

centres that find themselves unable to reduce costs any Investing in

3.9 4.1 4.0 4.1 3.7 3.5 3.6
further than they already have. Second, it may be a reflection Improving sales 3.8 4.2 4.0 3.1 3.4 4.3 3.8
of growing competitiveness in markets, and awareness that effectiveness

customers are increasingly holding more power. In response Improving agent

3.7 3.7 3.4 3.7 3.5 3.9 3.7

to an environment where customers can more readily obtain Integrating web & 3.6 3.9 3.3 3.8 3.7 3.6 3.5
call centre systems
information (on the internet) about their alternatives, more
Average rating of priority out of 5

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Why such a high priority? Many respondents highlighted the importance of reducing the
high expense of contact centre agents, which is not surprising
Unsurprisingly, the larger the call centre the more likely self- given that this usually accounts for 60-65% of operational
service is considered the absolute highest priority. In addition budgets. While this was referred to regularly it was interesting
to cost savings and improved customer satisfaction, executives to note that no one referred to channelling the savings made
across the whole spectrum of contact centre operations cited from self-service into greater investment in more service
the same fundamental benefits from self-service: capability for customers. In North America this was found

to be a growing trend amongst the most sophisticated contact
“It’s a huge priority because of savings on
centre operations, whereby savings made from self-service are
agents and fewer mistakes, but there is also the
convenience factor - many customers want the being channelled into longer call handling times, exploring
choice to serve themselves whenever they like. customer needs more thoroughly, providing more thorough
But then you have to think about how satisfied information and service to customers, or spending more time
customers are, and we don’t believe that the on cross-selling.
experience of touchtone is great. We’ve invested
in speech because it’s more accessible, and less In North America there is a stronger trend in the industry to
(Banking - UK) shift focus from managing the cost of servicing customers, to
managing the quality of the customer experience. It could
“On the one side there is the cost effectiveness. be expected that the same trend will become increasingly
On the other hand we want to give our customers evident across Europe in the coming years. And with the
the best possible service with all self-serving customer experience being a paramount concern, executives
mediums right down to SMS. Customer satisfaction
need to consider how to best encourage more use of self-
with self-service is very important as it creates
customer loyalty.” service and balance it effectively with assisted service. This
(Telecommunications – Switzerland) issue is explored later in this report.

“Self- and assisted-service is hugely important Why a low priority?

in both how we manage our client’s customer
satisfaction and our overall call-management Across Europe 14% of customer service executives rated
strategy. Our entire business is built around
blending between traditional inbound and self-service a low priority, yet this varied considerably across
outbound, outsourced and co-sourced and now live regions. Of those who rated self-service a low priority, 75%
agents blended fully with automation.” were contact centres of less than 150 seats, and manufacturing,
(Call Centre & Business Outsourcing – UK) healthcare, pharmaceutical and insurance companies were the
most common.
“Our highest priority is to give the customer the
chance to use any and all channels. It’s important
to grow along with the technology and explore the Self-service a low priority
Percentage of executives who rated self-service a low priority
possibilities to give the customer what they expect.”
Europe Benelux DACH France Italy Scandi- UK/
(Banking – Germany) navian Ireland

Self-service 14% 5% 5% 3% 23% 25% 22%

a low priority
“Self-service is a high priority because customers
are demanding it.”
(Telecommunications – Netherlands)

“It is extremely important because the customer

is number 1 and we would like to offer them as
much choice as possible.”

(Financial Services – Belgium)

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Most commonly, respondents who felt self-service was a low executives have acknowledged that providing high-quality
priority typically cited the nature of their business - be it self-service systems has become an imperative for satisfying
B2B or B2C – and concerns about delivering personalised and retaining customers.
service to customers. The common themes expressed by
these contact centre managers were: In time, the same could be expected to occur in European

countries as the rate of internet usage increases. However
“Self-service is a low priority because we’re the move to more self-service will rely upon the courage
very customer orientated and we advertise the of contact centre executives to introduce this technology to
personal relationship.” their customers. In some instances customers will recognise
(Insurance – Germany)
they want self-service capabilities, yet in others they will not
“We don’t use self-service at all. We believe that know what the advantages of self-service are without being
customers should be able to talk to people at all given the opportunity to try it. Increasing preference for
times.” self-service arises through increasing exposure to quality self-
(Industrial Manufacturing – Denmark) service: the more you use it, the more you like it. The more
accustomed you are to the speedy responsiveness and control
“Self-service is very important, because it reduces that self-service offers, the more you expect and demand it to
waiting times, improves customer service, and
keeps our costs down. But it’s not a priority for us be available. Before customers decide they prefer self-service
because we have so much in place. Customers can they need to be increasingly exposed to it, and contact centre
already serve themselves 90% of the time.” executives will need to drive that.
(Telecommunications – Russia)
Already we are seeing in parts of Europe that customers
“We’re actually making money out of inbound increasingly prefer self-service systems, particularly on the
calls, with 1 in 14 service calls ending up in a sale. internet, and the plans of organisations interviewed for this
50% of total sales are from recognising the needs of
study reveal that internet self-service is the most common
the customer and making an offer on the spot, so
we’re pulling more calls out of the IVR.” area planned for investment. Growing internet use will make

(Banking – UK) this channel the most common way of interacting with many,
but not all, organisations. Customers will grow to prefer this
channel because of its ready availability 24 hours a day, the
Why an imperative?
ease of use, control and responsiveness.

With so many contact centre executives prioritising self-
service and multi-channel customer care it seems inevitable “Self-service is a growing priority because it’s
what customers now expect.”
that consumers will increasingly be expected to use these (Insurance - Germany)
means of interacting with organisations. However the results
from the consumer survey of this study indicate that some “With little competitive difference between banks
consumers are still reluctant to use this technology. So why at the moment, if you could differentiate your self-
are contact centre managers prioritising self-service? service then you could possibly take leadership.”
(Banking – UK)
To understand this trend one must consider the rise of
self-service in North America. As internet usage has risen
in North America so too has the practice of customers
serving themselves, to the point where consumers there
now display a preference for self-service over other means
of completing transactions and inquiries. Subsequently self-
service has become the number one method of interaction
between suppliers and their customers, and customer service

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
“In financial services we believe there is a Across the whole European sample, men demonstrated a
growing and strategic segment that wants to serve stronger preference to internet self-service than did women.
themselves; its typically youth and the technology-
savvy. We decided to capture their business early
with a sophisticated natural-language speech system, European consumers’ preferred method of service
and this strategic segment is now worth almost a aside from in-person
European consumers’ preferred method of service aside from in-person
third of our profits. We’re now rated the number
one leader in banking with a score twice that of Internet Agent IVR Depends
your nearest competitor.”
(Banking - USA) Banking transactions & inquiries 57% 28% 2% 13%

Paying bills 57% 30% 1% 12%

“Self-service is critical because it is creating the Making bookings or reservations 47% 35% 2% 16%

Making product inquiries 43% 36% 0% 21%
(Retail – UK)
Buying products or services 30% 40% 0% 30%
% of respondents who prefer channel

As a result of growing self-service, interaction with agents

and customer service representatives will become increasingly Consumers were also asked how often they actually use
rare, and the quality of self-service systems will become a the telephone and internet to complete these different
more significant determinant of customer satisfaction. The transactions and inquiries and across Europe it was evident
quality of self-service and the accessibility of organisations that they don’t use these channels as much as they indicated a
will become the new battleground for competition. The preference to. This could suggest that consumers overestimate
many implications of this are explored later in this document, their preference for these channels or, more interestingly, it
but those executives who have recognised this importance could indicate that consumers have a strong preference for
and are prioritising their investments accordingly are those these channels and companies currently aren’t meeting their
most likely to maintain customer satisfaction and gain expectations and making it as available as they would like.
competitive advantage in the years ahead.
Consumers actual method of frequently completing
Meeting customer expectations activities
Consumers actual method of frequently completing activities

for self-service Internet Phone

Leading customer service executives who are investing Banking transactions & inquiries 44% 13%

in more sophisticated self-service are simply delivering Paying bills 38% 8%

customers what they want. Consumers in this study clearly Making bookings or reservations 36% 20%

indicated a preference for using self-service systems when Making product inquiries 43% 11%

asked to choose their preferred method for undertaking Buying products or services 23% 6%

the most common customer service activities. While % who use channel often or always

preferences currently rate highly for the internet, they are yet
to approach the levels seen in North America or Australia,
where consumers far and away prefer the internet over other

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Looking more closely at the preferences for some of these Given these preferences it is interesting to compare what
transactions and inquiries reveals wildly disparate results level of internet usage there is for each country and region,
between different countries and regions. Clearly Benelux (note that those countries marked with an asterisk* will
consumers are the strongest advocates of internet self-service show above normal internet usage rates because 25-40% of
closely followed by Scandinavians, while Italians are far and respondents were surveyed on the internet):
away the least likely users of internet self-service.
Internet usage by country/region
Consumers preferred channel for paying bills aside
from in-person
Consumers preferred channel for paying bills aside from in-person 95% 94%
84% 84% 87%
Internet Agent 77%
Benelux 82% 12%

DACH 59% 27%

France 32% 38%

Italy 20% 72%

Scandinavia 79% 14%

UK & Ireland 63% 37%

% who prefer channel Benelux* Czech DACH* France Italy Poland Russia Scandi Spain UK*
Republic -navia*

% of respondents for each country/region

Preferred channel for product inquiries aside from in- Method of Internet Access
personchannel for product inquiries aside from in-person

Internet Agent Elsewhere • 3%

Benelux 68% 13%

Don't use internet • 17%
Czech Republic 57% 21% At home • 37%

DACH 40% 37% At work • 10%

France 61% 16%

Italy 20% 44%

Poland 44% 29%

Russia 8% 77%
At both work & home • 33%

Scandinavia 37% 49% Where do you access the internet?

Spain 26% 57%

UK & Ireland 37% 57%

Looking at only those consumers aged over 45, we find that
% who prefer channel
across the European sample 32% do not use the internet.

Having established that the internet is the preferred channel

of self-service for many consumers it comes as no surprise
that company websites have become very influential in
determining customer satisfaction. Consumers were asked
how important the quality of an organisation’s website is in
maintaining their satisfaction with that organisation’s service.
Younger consumers rated this more important than did older

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Importance of a website in maintaining your Significance of self-service in delivering customer
satisfaction satisfaction
Europe Europe
Extremely important • 31% 42%

Completely irrelevant • 3%

Unimportant • 7%


Highly important • 36%

Mildly important • 23%


Importance of a website in maintaining your satisfaction

Critical Important Significant Insignificant
Considering these consumer attitudes to self-service it
would seem evident that high quality self-service systems % of customer service executives
have grown to become not merely expected by consumers
but actually demanded. To evaluate how much consumers
value self-service systems, they were asked how likely they With such importance placed on these systems, it's not
would be to stop using an organisation if an IVR system was surprising that a number of executives highlighted how much
frustratingly difficult to use. of a priority it is for them to constantly improve the quality
of self-service systems. They spoke of ongoing user-interface
Would you stop using an organisation if their IVR was refinement, upgrading IVRs with superior functionality
frustratingly difficult to use? and some referred to plans to replace touchtone with
Europe speech-enabled IVRs. The importance of this refinement
27% is highlighted when combining key findings from this study
25% with the findings of the last Genesys consumer survey in
2003. In that study:
• 85% of consumers stated they would stop doing business
with a company based on a poor call centre experience
• 56% of consumers have stopped doing business with a
company based on a poor call centre experience1

5% In this study contact centre executives were asked what

percentage of inquiries and transactions could be handled by
self-service systems and the average of 44% was below that of
Very highly
Highl likely Likely Unlikely Not likely
at all North America and Asia-Pacific. However of all respondents
10% believe that more than 75% of all their transactions and
Would you stop using an organisation if their inquiries could be automated through self-service.
Given the importance consumers place on the quality of web
IVR was frustratingly difficult to use?
self-service and IVRs it is encouraging that the majority of
customer service executives share that perception. Executives
were asked how significant a determinant self-service systems
are for customer satisfaction. 36% believe the quality of their
self-service systems are a critical determinant of satisfaction
- it could be the key reason customers would choose to
continue or stop doing business with them:

1 p.4. Global Consumer Survey, Genesys June 2003

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
With so much of a customer’s satisfaction being determined
Customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction
by the quality of self-service systems, it is essential that
organisations continually evaluate user satisfaction and refine In order to understand customer satisfaction more deeply,
systems accordingly, otherwise they risk losing customers consumers were surveyed about their self-service and contact
because of unsatisfactory service. While self-service systems centre experiences. To gauge how annoyed they are by
offer real benefits in terms of consistency of experience, it typical contact centre problems, they were asked to rate
also highlights the need to make sure those interactions are their degree of annoyance on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is
fine-tuned to provide the most positive experiences. extremely annoying and 1 is not annoying at all. Executives
were also asked how they thought consumers would rate
Executives were asked how user-friendly they felt their
those same experiences. The following table provides
website and IVR systems are and it’s interesting that while
a comparison of average consumer ratings versus how
so many recognise the importance of both, about a third
executives expected consumers to rate these experiences, and
consider their self-service systems to be below par:
it’s interesting to note the only significant gap is for executives
possibly underestimating how annoyed consumers are by call
How user-friendly is your website? transfers.
34% Degree of annoyance with typical experiences:
consumer attitude vs. executive perception
Degree of annoyance with typical experiences: consumer attitude vs. executive perception
26% 27%
Typical frustrations Consumers Executives

Waiting on hold for more 4.0 4.0

than one minute
Having to use an IVR 3.9 4.0
with complicated menus
Entering account details and then 3.8 4.0
8% being asked for them again by the agent
5% Having to be transferred to another 3.6 3.3
agent because the first can’t help you
average rating - scale 1-5
Excellent Very good Good Average Poor

% of contact centre executives A previous Genesys research study2 uncovered a similar gap
between the perception of executives and contact centre
agents. In that study, executives significantly underestimated
How user-friendly is your IVR system? how much stress agents experienced when dealing with
Europe customers complaining of long hold times and call transfers.
37% Could it be that some executives are under estimating how
much of an issue call-transfers can be?

This discrepancy could be a cause for concern because

23% reaching the right person is consistently rated by consumers
as the second most significant frustration with contact centres
after time on hold.

Most executives clearly understand how critical these issues
6% are, but it seems that some might be underestimating their
importance. A banking executive explained, “Managing
Excellent Very good Good Average Poor contact centres for customer satisfaction is not a complicated

% of contact centre executives

2 Contact Centre Realities Volume 3 – Managing Agent Satisfaction,

Australia/New Zealand, Genesys July 2003
A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
proposition. What they want is clear: answer my phone call ID numbers? Could it be an expectation of consumers that
quickly, don’t put me on hold, resolve my problem quickly if they have to listen to a range of menu options and levels
and don’t transfer me.” and enter a customer ID, then they should get the pay-off of
being put through to the right resource?
Meeting all of these expectations can be improved in contact
centres by applying well designed IVRs to route incoming Executives understand the limitations of these interactions and
calls and process the more routine and mundane calls the inability to fully qualify every call as it comes through the
through to call completion. Improving these systems impacts IVR. Touchtone IVR menus can be only so broad and deep
customer satisfaction in two ways. Firstly, it improves the before they become frustratingly difficult to use, and back-
customer experience by expediting their inquiry. Secondly, end and agent desktop systems aren’t always easily integrated
better quality IVRs improve the satisfaction of contact to enable screen-pops. However many organisations have
centre agents; many contact centre managers accept that succeeded with both, and as consumers become accustomed
happier agents leads to happier customers because of a better to these levels of service their expectations continue to
experience in the call. In this study executives were asked rise for all organisations. They’re probably thinking, “If my
how important the quality of their self-service systems were airline, my hotel and my bank recognise me so well, why
in maintaining agent satisfaction and it is evident that the can’t you?”
link is strongly acknowledged. Interestingly French and
Scandinavian executives were most likely to consider this link An increasing number of organisations are addressing these
critical, while German and Italian executives were most likely issues by deploying speech-enabled IVR gateways that allow
to consider it insignificant. people to simply say what they are calling about and then
be connected to the appropriate agent or self-service system.
And findings in this study seem to indicate that consumers
Importance of self-service systems in maintaining
aren’t necessarily frustrated by self-service systems per se, but
agent satisfaction
rather are frustrated by poorly designed implementations.
When asked how they would rate using a touchtone IVR,
Insignificant • 14%
Critical • 19%
consumers displayed a strong willingness to use these systems
if they were designed for simple ease of use.

Experience of using a touchtone IVR

Experience of using a touchtone IVR
Significant • 23%
How annoying? Complicated Simplified

Extremely annoying 38% 12%

Important • 44% Very annoying 24% 8%

Mildly annoying 22% 37%

Importance of quality of self-service systems
Looking again at theingap for being
maintaining transferred to another agent,
agent satisfaction? Not annoying 16% 43%

this may be explained by some of the executives’ suggestions % of consumers

that the frustration with call transfers might depend on the

nature and complexity of the call. They seemed to feel that
Looking at different groups of consumers reveals that over-
consumers would understand being transferred when they
45s and women tend to be slightly more annoyed by both
call with a particularly complex or rare inquiry. But would
complicated and simplified IVR than their counterparts.
they? Or might consumers have unrealistic expectations that
Perhaps not surprisingly, 18-25 year olds were the least likely
the agent who receives their call should be able to deal with
to be annoyed by either complicated or simplified IVRs,
it. If they do have that expectation, is it a perception that
suggesting that this generation have grown to be accustomed
arises because of the design of IVRs and the use of customer
to these experiences.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Causes of annoyance with touchtone IVRs
Causes of annoyance with touchtone IVRs
to be equally receptive to using speech technology, although
18-25 year olds are more likely to be satisfied by it.
How annoying? Time it takes to Confusion Dealing with a
listen to options caused by too computer rather
many options than a human Also, in comparison with the global findings of this consumer
Extremely annoying 31% 31% 25%
study, it is evident that European consumers are equally as
satisfied with and receptive to speech as North American
Very annoying 25% 24% 16%
consumers who have generally been exposed to more
Mildly annoying 29% 25% 26%
speech-enabled systems because of the higher rate of
Doesn’t matter 15% 20% 33% adoption there.
% of consumers

What inhibits more use of self-service?

The difference in ratings between complicated and simplified It is evident that consumers have come to accept and even
IVRs would seem to suggest that consumers appreciate embrace self-service technologies as a preferred method for
the value these systems offer to both themselves and the many different types of interactions, and they clearly welcome
organisations that use them, but are resistant to complex the benefits of increased availability and control. Meanwhile
and drawn out IVRs. This theory is further supported by many customer service executives suggest that there are
consumer attitudes to using speech-enabled IVRs, which are growing segments of consumers whose strong preference
typically perceived as being simpler to use. for self-service interaction has become the key measure by
which to choose a supplier. With this being the case, why are
Of course a key advantage of self-service systems is the ability
some organisations investing more in self-service while others
for customers to serve themselves 24-hours a day. Consumers
aren’t? What are the inhibitors to deploying and encouraging
clearly value 24-hour service, but recognise that they can’t
more self-service?
expect all contact centres to be open to them around-the-
clock with agents at call. In this study they were asked how While many organisations are indeed investing more in self-
satisfied they would be to use IVRs instead, and its interesting service, just over half of the respondents to this study feel they
to see that speech-enabled IVRs are considerably more are inhibited in some way when it comes to investing in more
willingly accepted: self-service. The organisations most likely to see inhibitors to
investing in self-service were smaller organisations who handle
Satisfaction with using IVR instead of 24-hour live a lower volume of inquiries, and businesses with seemingly
agent service
Satisfaction with using IVR instead of 24-hour live-agent service
complex or very personal transactions. At the other end
of the spectrum it is generally the larger organisations that
How satisfied Touchtone
IVR believe there are increasing opportunities to implement more
Very Highly satisfied 4% 7%

Highly satisfied 14% 17% The four key inhibitors most commonly referred to are:
Satisfied 49% 50% 1. The cost of self-service technologies and difficulty building
Dissatisfied 29% 19%
a business case

Highly dissatisfied 4% 7%
2. Concerns about consumer acceptance of self-service
% of consumers
3. Disparate, complex or insufficient technology systems and
Looking at the differences between age groups, the over-45
group show only a slightly higher level of dissatisfaction when 4. The complexity of inquiries and transactions
it comes to using speech-enabled IVRs. All age brackets seem

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Some comments from executives highlighted the key themes Too much self-service?
that were expressed by those who feel they are inhibited:

There were also a number of organisations who felt they
“The key inhibitors for us are linking the had reached a very high limit to the amount of transactions
technology platforms, the organisational tensions
they could automate. Some felt that only the most complex
and conflicts, and the confidence to implement
more.” transactions remained, but a few organisations with high
(Banking – UK) rates of self-service also said they were struggling to identify
anything else they would want to automate, not because of
“Our main limit lies at the moment in the the complexity but rather because they wanted to retain the
integration of all our systems and channels.” live agent calls. They were concerned that personal contact
(Banking – Finland)
with customers could become too rare, and therefore the
“Part of our overall strategy is to be perceived opportunities to explore customer needs and cross-sell were
by the customers as a solid, professional and becoming limited. These organisations aren’t planning to
heavyweight company and to combine this with implement more self-service.

self-service is a challenge.”
(Insurance – Denmark) “We’ve already automated 80% in self-
service, so we’re running out of functionality to
“The key inhibitors are the technical challenges of add, and it’s really about marketing it to customers
integrating new systems with old.” effectively to get it higher. We’ve adopted a
(IT – Finland) strategy of charging customers small amounts for
making changes for them that they could have
done themselves. 30 cents here or 50 cents there
“A good deal of our older clients don’t utilise it
is not a lot, but it’s about conditioning them to
like we would like them to.”

understand that service from agents costs more and
(Insurance – Germany)
users should pay. It’s much the same as banks do
with account fees. A more significant challenge for
However what one group of people perceive as inhibitors, us is identifying which types of calls are the ones
others see as mere challenges that can be overcome. Concerns that are most appropriate to deliver to an agent, and
about consumer acceptance would seem to be less relevant it’s not necessarily the calls with inherent value, but
possibly lower value calls where there is a better
given the growing popularity of self-service systems, and
opportunity to up-sell.”

consumers’ willingness and preference for using them. Some (Wireless Telecoms – Czech Republic)
executives believe that customers are becoming increasingly
conditioned to accept and prefer these systems. Certainly it is true that most organisations have products
and services that might always demand some direct human
Also, when it comes to the complexity of inquiries and
interaction, but the growing trend is for seemingly more
transactions it is certainly true that some are just far too
complex transactions to be automated through multiple
complicated and involved to bother trying to automate, but
channels. While some customers are demanding enhanced
at the same time it is interesting to note that a number of
self-service capability, others will always demand the human
respondents to this study have been successful in automating
touch. The challenge is deciding what to automate and
increasingly complex transactions and inquiries.
how, and empowering customers with a range of options for
Interestingly there were many organisations in the same interacting with the organisation.
industries whose attitudes to self-service conflicted – some
suggesting self-service deployment is limited by complexity
of their product or service, while their competitors indicated
they are embracing more technology to automate those same
complex transactions. It would seem that some organisations
could be held back by lagging perceptions of technology
capability and a misunderstanding of consumer attitudes.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Investing in Self-Service

The success of self-service implementations has meant that are being offered by a smaller percentage of organisations in
at least 68% of organisations are planning to invest in more Europe as opposed to North America. Clearly there are
of it. However faced with competing priorities and limited more advanced applications deployed in North America
budgets, what opportunities do executives see for self-service? and European contact centre executives could benefit from
And what are they planning to invest in? investigating and understanding the experiences and successes
of more progressive operations.
Opportunities for more self-service begin with the needs and
expectations of consumers. Accordingly some of the leading The implications for technology systems and business
large contact centres are taking a fresh approach to research processes can sometimes be profound. Many organisations
with their own customer base in order to understand what find that they simply aren’t equipped to readily link back-
kind of service delivery customers are seeking, and to gauge end systems to more sophisticated front-end applications.
their likely reactions to different technologies. However many large organisations have been successful in
doing so. Banks are enabling a full spectrum of transactions
Automating more to be completed online and through speech-enabled IVRs;
insurance companies are enabling quotes and policy purchases
Executives referred to a growing customer expectation that to be completed almost entirely without human intervention;
if one service or inquiry is provided through one self-service and companies from diverse industries are speech-enabling
channel, then they expect it to be provided through others, self-service to allow customers to update account details,
and this can create unique and unexpected demands. For check balances and request or submit information.
example, for some banks this has meant customers have
started emailing to request funds transfers and payments. Of Choosing who can self-serve
course as a highly insecure channel for communication, the
only way banks have been able to provide this capability has In deploying self-service systems an important consideration
been to provide the infrastructure for secure communications is who will demand self-service, who will be open to it and
either across the web or with digital signature technology, and who will be resistant to it? Another key consideration is
that was an investment that wasn’t initially expected. which transactions to automate. 27% of executives believe
that most of their organisations transactions and inquiries
Some organisations are planning to enable all transactions could be completed though self-service, while another 56%
and inquiries to be completed in all channels, to provide believe many could be initiated through self-service but would
their customers with the ultimate in availability and choice. require some human intervention. This is considerably more
However the majority of respondents plan only to offer some conservative than North American contact centres where
transactions and inquiries in all channels. Accordingly, the 40% believe that most transactions could be automated; again
challenge is to assess and understand not only what types of supporting the conclusion that self-service adoption is not as
activities could be automated, through which channels, and widespread and advanced in Europe. Different countries and
for whom, but also to understand just how much different regions appear to be more open to self-service deployment:
segments will actually need and use different channels. It
could be terribly unprofitable to automate processes that
are used rarely, by a small minority, unless those processes or
customers happen to be highly profitable.

Another key trend is the growing expectation of consumers

to be able to prepare their own quotes, answer their own
queries, and purchase increasingly complex products and
services. The rise of e-commerce has created pressure for
more of this capability not only on the web, but also through
telephony channels. It is evident that these kind of capabilities

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
How many transactions and inquiries could be The customer experience
automated with self-service?
Europe With more customers completing more transactions through
self-service, what does less two-way interaction mean for an
47% organisation’s relationships with customers? If the majority
of a customer’s contact with the organisation is through self-
service systems, how do you define and reflect the brand,
establish customer loyalty, and develop a valued relationship
29% 28% with each customer?
25% 24%
Executives believe this demands more consistency in the
total user experience, tighter links between channels, a
stronger brand personality that is reflected in and supported
by different types of interactions, and innovative methods of
communicating more regularly with customers.
Benelux DACH France Italy Scandinavia UK
With regard to the latter suggestion, a small number of
% who believe most or all executives explained they are now focusing on exploring new
transactions could be automated
opportunities to increase communication with customers
and gradually learn more about them. Self-service reduces
Across Europe 58% of executives are seeking to drive all or the amount of two-way interaction with customers so some
the vast majority of their customers to use more self-service, organisations are now exploring ideas for engaging customers
and it is evident that those organisations who are least in brief but regular email discussions where they can pick up
interested in doing so typically have very rare contact with a little more information about the profile of customers each
their customers, particularly complex transactions, or very time and then later use that to sell to them more effectively.
high value transactions.
One executive explained how they had introduced more
Which customers will you drive to use more self- outbound courtesy calls to existing customers to see if they
service? needed any assistance and to evaluate their satisfaction, and
Europe they have found it is having a significant impact on customer
retention and is lifting cross-selling rates. And by using call
Whichever are happy
Only the least-profitable • 10% blending to involve service agents in these outbound calls,
to use it • 31% None • 1% they have also seen an improvement in agent satisfaction.

Other approaches to improving the customer experience


Everyone except most

profitable/important • 22%
All customers • 36%

“ “If we can satisfy the customer in most cases,

they will accept the fact that some of their calls
will flow into automation. But when they are in
the IVR there is always an escape for them, for
example if the speech recognition engine does
Which customers will you drive
to use more self-service? not pick up what was said, they are automatically
Some customers want more self-service, and some customers routed to an agent.”
don’t. Some customers prefer a close relationship with (Media - Germany)
suppliers, while others don’t. In order to meet diverse
expectations and needs, organisations would be well served to When self-service doesn’t work, it is usually
offer as much choice and flexibility as they can afford. not the technology. It is down to knowing and
understanding your customer and their capabilities.
We’re careful not to underestimate our customers,
and we use regular focus groups to evaluate how
well systems are working.

(IT - Germany)

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Internet self-service Plans to allow online submission of inquiries
The dramatic growth in internet use has been a welcome gift
for most customer service executives. The increasing uptake
of the web has probably had the most profound impact on
contact centres since the ‘controversial’ introduction of IVRs,
yet today websites probably generate mixed feelings for
most contact centre managers. For while they have become
the most preferred method for many forms of transactions, 26%
websites are also at the heart of many customer service
issues: disconnects between contact centres and websites,
inconsistent levels of service, technical difficulties, email, 6%
and 24-hour availability, have all generated new issues in
the contact centre. Some of these issues were explored in Already using High priority Considering Not a priority

interviews with executives.

Plans to deploy account management & transactions

Consistency in multi-channel customer care
online Consistency of self-service across channels proved to be a high
Europe priority for many executives with almost half of respondents
actively addressing the issue with initiatives to realign business
processes and departments. This is unsurprising given that
enhancing multi-channel customer care rated as the top
priority amongst European executives.

However consumer surveys reveal that service levels for

19% 20% internet channels still seem to be lagging very far behind
14% those expected on the telephone. The Genesys Global
Consumer Survey of 2003 revealed that 38% of consumers
who had used email to seek service and called to follow up,
found the contact centre agent had no record of it.3 In this
Already using High priority Considering Not a priority study 47% of consumers have had a problem on the web and
called the company for help only to find that they had no
It is not surprising to find so many executives prioritising idea of what the customer had been doing.
online account management when considering North
American organisations are twice as likely to already offer this Many customer service executives recognise the growing
capability, and given the consumer attitudes to self-service problems that are generated by multi-channel customer
revealed in this study. care and the lack of integrated systems, and are investing

3 p.7. Global Consumer Survey, Genesys June 2003

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Degree to which web & telephony systems are linked French respondents were significantly more likely to be
Europe passing both the customer ID and the route they took
though the IVR, while Italy rated significantly lower for this
Use same technology capability.
platform • 16%

Value for customer satisfaction in being able to

Closely matched • 12%
Not at all • 43%
present customer ID & IVR route to agent

Some similar options • 29%

Degree to which web & telephony systems are linked

Of all organisations represented in this study, 67% rated
investment in multi-channel customer care a high or very 18%
high priority, and 53% rate integrating web & call centre
systems a high priority. Running a common platform for
web and voice interactions is seen to offer many benefits. 5%
Shared knowledge bases, customer databases and back-office
Extremely Highly valuable Somewhat Unimportant Completely
functionality provide valuable cost savings. Meanwhile valuable unnecessary
customers benefit from a more consistent and reliable
experience. Being accessible in times of need
Another key benefit of linking web & contact centre systems is With customers and contact centre managers relying on self-
to provide agents with a comprehensive view of the customer service systems so much, executives recognise that they have
experience. Many respondents made it clear that they want to support the use of self-service by providing an adequate
agents to have visibility of absolutely all transactions even if safety net for when things go wrong. Customer satisfaction
all transaction types are not available in all channels. Yet many with self-service and their willingness to continue using it
contact centres still aren’t providing agents with complete relies on support being readily and easily available when it’s
visibility of their customer’s IVR experience: needed most. This translates to providing easily accessed
methods for communicating directly with the organisation.
Information passed from IVR to agent when users opt An email address should be readily available on the website,
out and email should be promptly handled. Contact centre
Europe details should be easy to find and when customers call they
Nothing • 22%
should be able to speak with contact centre agents who are
skilled to support web problems. Lastly, if things go wrong in
an IVR it should be made easy for customers to escape to an
agent. Consumers were asked about related issues.
Customer ID &
Customer ID • 21%
IVR route • 57% Degree to which customers value support for web
Degree to which customers value support for web problems

How valuable Email on the spot Call an agent Request

a call-back
Information passed from IVR to
agent when users opt out Essential 25% 19% 18%

Highly valuable 31% 34% 29%

Valuable 29% 31% 35%

Not valuable 12% 12% 15%

Unnecessary 3% 4% 3%
% of consumers

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Closer examination of responses to these questions reveals Live web chat
that the over-45 consumers have higher expectations for
support when things go wrong with internet self-service. Given the support that consumers are seeking when using
Across all three scenarios they rate the value of this support online systems, it is interesting to examine the plans for
20% higher than the under-45 consumers. deploying web chat in order to improve support for web
users. Some organisations have expressed doubts about
Consumers were also asked about their experiences of the need for live web chat and concerns about the cost of
receiving phone support for problems experienced on the handling web chat sessions, however the experiences of those
web. Unfortunately it seems apparent that many organisations organisations that have deployed it reveal interesting results.
may still be failing to deliver the level of support consumers
are expecting for using these self-service systems. 34% of Those who have deployed web chat suggest it's “something
consumers have more than once had the experience of every corporate website should have”. An interesting
having difficulty with a website and called the contact centre example was explained by an online computer retailer in the
only to find that the agent has no idea of what they’ve been USA who had concerns about abandoned sales opportunities
doing and has been unable to help them. Unsurprisingly on the web. The organisation deployed a small team of 8
51% of them rated this highly annoying. web chat agents and soon found each agent was typically
running 5 simultaneous chat sessions with customers. So
Email response successful has web chat been for driving sales performance,
that organisation’s contact centre now has more than two
With email continually growing in usage by all segments of hundred chat agents who outnumber voice agents by more
the community, this channel presents ongoing challenges for than 2:1. A couple of European contact centre managers
contact centre executives. As consumers make more use of shared their experience of web-chat and revealed that they
internet self-service they are increasingly going to expect have found their agents running 3-4 simultaneous sessions
responsive email support. Consumers were asked what their with customers, and that a standalone session can cost about
expectation was for an email response. the same as a live call. Web chat was clearly most prevalent
in the UK where 16% of respondents are currently providing
Expected response time for email this interaction channel for their customers.
49% Plans for live web chat

Currently using • 5%

High priority • 8%

Not a priority • 68%

Considering • 19%
11% 11%


within 1 hour same day within 24 hours within 2 days within 4 days
Plans for live web chat
% of consumers

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Web knowledgebases Considering the variation in expectations for channels like
text messaging (SMS) highlights the importance for contact
Intelligent web knowledgebases are also seen as a valuable centre executives to understand the expectations of their own
technology for improving web self-service while also customer segments and how to best meet them. Leading
reducing call volumes for contact centres. Well designed web contact centres are endeavouring to provide all possible
knowledge bases allow customers to pose natural language channels of interaction for customers in order to be accessible
questions and receive a list of intelligent answers. Executives anytime, anywhere. A UK based organisation interviewed for
were asked about their plans for investing in web knowledge this study is currently delivering this accessibility by allowing
bases, and it is evident that there are increasing levels of customers to interact and transact through live agent calls,
interest in this technology. Web knowledgebases are most the web, touchtone and speech-enabled IVR, web chat, SMS,
heavily deployed in France, Italy and the UK. WAP, email, fax, mail, set-top box and in-store, and all of these
channels are linked to a single core customer information
Plans to deploy web knowledge base system. Leading contact centres are increasingly planning to
Europe take their contact centres in this same direction.
Currently using • 31%

Planning not to
implement • 5%
implementing • 15%

Not considering • 21%

Evaluating • 28%

Plans for web knowledgebase

Text messaging (SMS)

Another growing channel for customer service is the use

of mobile text messaging to update and communicate with
clients. Consumers were asked how valuable it would be if
organisations were able to send text messages to them about
the status of their account, and it is clear that a growing
segment of customers already know they would value this

Value of receiving account updates by text message

Value of receiving account updates by text message

Age group Highly valuable Valuable Not valuable

18 – 25 years 38% 24% 38%

26 – 35 years 31% 23% 46%

36 – 45 years 32% 24% 44%

46+ years 22% 12% 66%

% of consumers

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Speech Recognition

After the emergence of the internet, e-commerce, and IP Clearly the DACH countries and the UK are leading the
telephony, natural language speech recognition is emerging implementation of speech, while Italy shows the greatest
as the most profound change in contact centres in the last disinterest in the technology. Other findings in this study
few years, and the initial evolution of speech is reminiscent of support a conclusion that DACH countries and the UK
the early years with IVRs. Back then there were doomsayers clearly lead the region in employing and encouraging more
and evangelists about IVR, and there was much conjecture self-service and Italy consistently demonstrates a reluctance to
about the appropriateness of making customers interact with deploy more self-service. The question remains whether this
a computer. Yet we find ourselves today with more than 90% is more about customer attitudes to self-service or executive
of contact centres fronted by an IVR system. attitudes, and this is explored further below.

Speech recognition technology appears to be rapidly heading Of those organisations that have already deployed speech,
in the same direction. After trailblazing efforts by industry one third implemented it more than two years ago, and
leaders, speech is now part of the mainstream, and some 55% have deployed it in the past 12 months. The majority
organisations are deploying their second or third generation of organisations who have deployed speech come from
of speech technology. With speech being such a valuable the financial services, information technology and media
technology for self- and assisted-service, this study thoroughly industries, however at least one organisation from each of
investigated organisations' experiences and plans with this eight industries included in this study have deployed speech
booming technology. to their customers.

The larger the contact centre the more likely they are
Plans for speech recognition
Europe to have deployed speech, although contact centres of all
sizes, from small to mega, have deployed speech. Of the
organisations currently developing an application, half expect
to deploy within the next 6 months. And of those currently
investigating the business case, 35% expect they will deploy
speech in the coming year. Based on these expectations, by
23% the end of 2005, 29% of European contact centres will have
deployed speech, compared to an expected 50% of North
American contact centres.
12% 12%

4% 5% Key drivers for speech

Deployed to Deployed Currently Evaluating Not Definitely Unsurprisingly the key drivers for investing in speech are
customers internally developing business considering won't
application case implement to reduce costs and improve the customer experience.
Executives who have already deployed speech provided an
interesting list of key benefits they have seen from their
Plans for speech recognition
Plans for speech-recognition speech deployments:
Deployed or Evaluating Not considering Definitely
developing won’t implement Flatten menus Profiling customers more easily
Streamline navigation Improve agent satisfaction
Benelux 15% 15% 61% 9%
Shorten hold time Encourages more frequent contact
DACH 52% 24% 20% 4%
Automate more complex Enable true skills-based routing
France 9% 30% 55% 6% transactions
Italy 15% 8% 39% 39% Make more transactions available Improved first-call resolution
Scandinavia 8% 15% 69% 8% Easier to use Meet customer expectations

UK & Ireland 20% 32% 37% 11% More efficient & accurate call Reduce contact centre resources

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Some executives went further to explain the strategic Resistance to speech
opportunities that speech can offer, for example:

For those 44% of executives who are currently not considering
“ood customer service is the principle the speech, the most commonly cited reasons were:
company is built on. We sell and market directly
and we use outsourcing for overflows and peaks. Other technology and business priorities
Our over-50 customers tend to want a human
voice, yet they do use email. We don’t want to Lack of budgets for investment
force customers to use self-service, and we don’t Affordability of the technology
want to use a touchtone IVR, but we see speech as No compelling need to replace current IVR
an opportunity to reduce costs, handle peaks, and
Waiting until current IVR needs replacement
improve the speed and quality of service, and we
expect our customers will be responsive to it.” Inappropriate for senior customer base
(Travel & Tourism – UK) Customers want personal interaction

“In financial services we believe there is a These executives were asked when they expected they will
growing and strategic segment that wants to serve consider speech:
themselves; it’s typically youth and the technology-
savvy. We decided to capture their business early
with a sophisticated natural-language speech system, Currently not considering speech, but will in . . .
and this strategic segment is now worth almost a Europe
third of our profits.”

(Banking & Finance - USA)

Types of speech applications 25%

Almost half of deployed speech applications are using free-

speech technology and the majority of the remainder are
currently using directed-dialog applications where users 9%
are directed to a limited range of dialog. 55% of speech
users have automated high-value transactions. Common
applications are requesting information, balances, completing
1-6 months 7-12 months 12-24 months 24+ months
banking processes, paying bills, and checking status of business
processes. Respondents who are currently
evaluating business case
The most popular applications for speech are delivering
information like checking of account & order status. The
most advanced European speech application disclosed in this
And then there are the 12% of executives who definitely
study was the ability to place bets, and the most advanced
will not invest in speech. The majority of this group are
from North America enables customers to completely apply
from small & medium size contact centres and just two
for a bank loan using an automated speech system.
from large size operations. Organisations servicing business
customers are more likely to not be considering speech. The
common reasons expressed for not investing in speech were
its inappropriateness for the customer base and the cost and
ROI of investing in speech.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
Building a business case Consumer acceptance of speech
For the 23% of executives who are currently investigating In North America speech recognition has matured to a level
the business case for speech, 25% expect their speech IVR where consumer acceptance drives deployment as much as
to completely replace their existing touchtone IVR, and deployment drives consumer acceptance. In essence most
81% expect to automate high-value transactions. The vast consumers now prefer speech and willingly use it. So how do
majority of executives indicated they would like to deploy European consumers feel about using speech? First, consider
speech because they know it can be a better experience for this table from earlier in the report:
their customers, but some organisations expressed concern
about being able to build a business case for investing in Satisfaction with using IVR instead of 24-hour live
speech. agent service

Satisfaction with using IVR instead of 24-hour live-agent service

“Our main reason was the cost effectiveness. How satisfied Touchtone Speech-enabled
We are able to automate things like ordering, and IVR IVR
we can deliver 24/7 service without extra agents. Very Highly satisfied 4% 7%
We also use it for our “opt-out” line; if a customer
wants to terminate an order. It would hurt to Highly satisfied 14% 17%

have to put a live agent to take a call that is losing Satisfied 49% 50%

(Media – Germany) Dissatisfied 29% 19%

Highly dissatisfied 4% 7%

% of consumers
For some organisations the cost savings alone don’t appear
adequate to justify the immediate investment; however peers
in the same industry have explained how they achieved
their ROI on speech faster than expected. The difference Only 26% of consumers believe they wouldn’t be satisfied
may be in the approach organisations take to justifying the by a speech enabled IVR in place of 24-hour agent service.
investment. Many business cases for speech tend to focus Combine this with other findings from the study and an
on updating already deployed self-service IVR applications. interesting pattern emerges.
The resulting business case tends to focus on the cost of the
deployment and the costs it will dispense of, but neglects the Consumer use of speech recognition
Consumer use of speech-recognition

increased value that can be generated by speech applications.

Benelux 32%
Business cases could be improved by exploring the potential
Czech Republic 13%
for increased revenue through higher customer satisfaction
DACH 57%
and improved customer retention. In building a business
France 73%
case it seems imperative to consider the value that can be
created for customers and the organisation, not merely the Italy 35%

cost savings. Poland 86%

Russia 0%
Another key consideration is to explore the new possibilities Scandinavia 52%
for automating transactions and inquiries, for this is often Spain 63%
where the best opportunities exist for a rapid return. The UK & Ireland 52%
speech interface allows the automation of complex transactions % consumers who have used speech
and inquiries which touchtone IVRs are otherwise unable
to handle, thus opening up possibilities that haven’t been
thought of before. Those consumers who have used speech recognition systems
were asked how well they thought it works, how happy they
would be to use it again, and were asked what they did and
didn’t like about these systems.

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
How well do you think speech works?
How well do you think speech works?
Preference for speech over touchtone IVR
Consumer segment Very well Satisfactorily Poorly Horribly

Female 20% 48% 25% 7% 34%

Male 22% 52% 17% 9% 30%
18 – 25 years 21% 54% 14% 11%

26 – 35 years 15% 56% 21% 8%

36 – 45 years 25% 49% 18% 8%

46 – 65 years 27% 37% 28% 8% 17%

65+ years 30% 60% 10% 0%

Benelux 14% 69% 14% 3% 9%
DACH 31% 41% 24% 5%

France 21% 38% 30% 11%

Italy 26% 48% 17% 9%

Very highly Highly Prefer Prefer No preference Definitely
prefer wouldn't prefer
Poland 8% 61% 27% 4%

Scandinavia 21% 58% 15% 6% % of consumers who have

Spain 27% 33% 20% 20% used a speech application
UK & Ireland 29% 50% 12% 9%
% of consumers who have used speech When asked what they don’t like about speech, consumers
commonly cited the following:
• Doesn’t understand me
Willingness to use speech again
Willingness to use speech again
• Having to repeat myself
Consumer segment Very happy Happy Unhappy Very unhappy
• Background noise triggers the wrong response
Female 25% 48% 21% 6%

Male 29% 47% 15% 9%

• Don’t like talking to a computer
18 – 25 years 34% 43% 17% 6% • Having everything repeated back to me
26 – 35 years 23% 55% 15% 7% • Not fast enough
36 – 45 years 30% 47% 18% 5%
• Options not available
46 – 65 years 23% 40% 24% 13%

65+ years 60% 20% 20% 0%

• Being asked redundant questions
Benelux 14% 69% 14% 3%

DACH 21% 57% 17% 5%

France 21% 43% 21% 15%

Italy 30% 35% 26% 9%

Poland 30% 52% 14% 4%

Scandinavia 26% 47% 19% 8%

Spain 35% 37% 12% 16%

UK & Ireland 21% 48% 26% 5%

% of consumers who have used speech

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1
It is interesting to note that many of the issues listed by How annoying is touchtone IVR on a mobile phone?
consumers can be easily addressed through interface design Europe
and system processing ability. However some speech systems
are limited in their ability to process all interactions. Case 36%
in point being the application of speech that was referred
to most often because of its poor performance: telephone
directory assistance. It is evident that users find these systems
unsatisfactory, and they are often the only speech application
people have tried. It seems these applications don’t assist the 17%
industry in encouraging acceptance of speech. 12%
When asked what they like about speech, consumers
commonly cited the following:
• Quick response Extremely Very annoying Mildly annoying Not annoying Insignificant
• Convenient when you’re doing something else % of consumers
• Faster than waiting for someone
• Not having to punch in numbers How preferable to say numbers instead?
• Efficient Europe
• Easier navigation
• Great when driving 26%

• Easy escape to a human

• Get to the right person more easily
• Not having to listen to huge menu lists
• Not having to talk to an agent

Those consumers who hadn’t used a speech recognition

system had the technology explained to them and were then
asked whether they would prefer speech or touchtone IVRs.
Their preference toward speech was only slightly lower than Extremely Highly Preferable Not preferable Unimportant
preferable preferable
those consumers who have actually used speech systems,
suggesting that new users are likely to be as happy with using % of consumers
speech as current users.

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Results with speech recognition Impact of speech on customer satisfaction?
Organisations that have already deployed speech have been
very pleased with the outcomes they have achieved. A
Banking executive explained how their implementation of
a speech-enabled banking platform has become a strategic
marketing advantage. In addition to capturing a valuable 29%
market segment of tech-savvy consumers, a recent consumer 25%
study of leadership in banking found this organisation at the
peak of the industry with a leadership score twice that of
their nearest competitor.

Many of the respondents suggested they have achieved their 0%

ROI within less than 12 months of deployment. Improved Increased Maintained Reduced
dramatically same levels satisfaction

Has user adoption met your expectations? % of respondents who have already deployed speech

Plans for more speech applications

Fallen below expectations • 17%
Been a failure • 0%

Met expectations • 58% Surpassed expectations • 25%

Respondents who have already deployed speech 11% 11%

More planned More planned Considering more Not considering

Very few organisations have found their expectations for for customers internally advanced applications more
user adoption haven’t been met and they explained that
their speech engine and user-interface continued to need % of respondents who have already deployed speech
refinement as their systems were recording unacceptable
failure rates. But these organisations aren’t disappointed with
their deployments, and interestingly all of them have more
applications planned or already under development. “ “The thing about speech is that it is more
natural to have a conversation. Speech feels like
a natural medium because it is a dialogue. It’s
emotionally more elegant.”

(IT – Germany)

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1

The ever increasing expectations of customers are the Leading customer service executives interviewed in this
fundamental drivers for implementing more self-service. study believe this demands more consistency in the total
Broadly speaking, customers are demanding and expecting user experience, tighter links between service channels, a
more availability of information, more accessibility to stronger brand personality that is reflected in and supported
organisations, and the freedom to choose when and how by different types of interactions, and innovative methods of
they interact with suppliers. In response more and more communicating more regularly with customers.
organisations are recognizing that they need to deliver
increased levels of service in order to retain customers and For self-service channels it means constantly refining and
grow their business. enhancing how they can serve customers. If customers are
demanding more from their interactions, then organisations
Self-service systems offer the most cost-effective opportunities need to look at how they can build more intelligence into
to provide these higher levels of service and availability, and self-service systems, and determine which interactions are
as customers have become increasingly accustomed to using best handled this way and which are best served by a personal
them, they have grown to expect and demand sophisticated interaction with a customer service representative.
self-service systems as part of the complete product or
service offering. Along the way self-service systems are Organisations need to establish a deeper understanding of not
becoming the most common method of interacting with only which interactions are the most valuable, but also which
many organisations, and becoming a critical determinant of interactions present the best opportunities for creating value.
customer satisfaction. This understanding will help them decide which transactions
to automate, and how best to automate them.
With these trends set to continue, it is evident that the quality
and availability of self-service will become an increasingly And with increased automation there are new challenges in
important competitive distinction. Customers will be won establishing and strengthening relationships with customers.
and lost based on the quality of these self-service systems, At a fundamental level, customers want to be acknowledged
and when it is needed, the availability and quality of personal and they want to feel that they are valued. If companies are
service. going to rely on more self-service interactions, they need
to consider how they can personalise and humanise those
Accordingly market leaders are focused on improving the automated interactions to make them more compelling and
availability of their organisation and making it as easy as highly-valued experiences.
possible for customers to interact with them. Leaders are
providing the customer with more choice and more control Some customers want more self-service, and some customers
over their relationship with the organisation, and self-service don’t. Some customers prefer a close relationship with
channels are valuable enablers for this. suppliers, and some customers don’t. Some want more
interaction and communication, and others don’t. The
With these drivers self-service has become a business challenge for customer service executives is how to balance
imperative and it is redefining the nature of relationships these different expectations and provide as much choice as
with customers. With more interaction undertaken through possible, in order to provide lasting satisfaction.
these channels and less personal contact with company
representatives, the opportunities to establish relationships
and sell to customers are changing. In response, companies
need to consider how they can strengthen relationships
that are increasingly based on automated transactions and
communications. They need to consider what this means
for how customers experience the organisation and establish
attachments to the brand.

A research study of consumer attitudes and how European Contact Centres are managing self-service
Where to go for More Information

Research Designer & Author:

Gene Blackley


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only with the express written consent of Genesys.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc • Contact Centre Realities • Volume 1