ANN ARBOR — Social media may help counteract negative word of mouth about businesses, according to the new Call Center Satisfaction Index study from Ann Arbor-based CFI Group.

The study also showed a one-point drop in satisfaction across measured private sector industries, while the Government Call Center Satisfaction index remained steady, and found a shift toward self-service via the Web in resolving issues.

This is the fifth consecutive year that CFI Group has administered this study using the proven methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The CCSI study examined the increased use of social media to comment on the call center experience. CFI observed a counter-intuitive impact of social media commentary and traditional complaining.

“What we are seeing is that, if you have a bad experience, you post it once on Facebook for all to see and then you’re done with it,” stated Terry Redding, director of development and delivery for CFI Group. “By the same token, we are seeing good experiences posted in the same way. In fact, we’ve observed that positive comments generally outweigh negative ones almost as a rule.”

While a bad experience may increase the odds that someone will tell others, the sheer number of positive experiences and positive posts seems to be outweighing the negative word-of-mouth in volume.

Another key finding in this year’s report was the shift to self-service, particularly via the Web. In 2011, CFI found that 27 percent of respondents had tried to resolve their issues elsewhere prior to resorting to working with the call center. The primary alternate channel was the Web.

“This is the first year since we’ve fielded that study that we’ve seen a decrease in overall score on the private sector side,” added Redding. “We feel the drop is due to an increasing number of easier calls being offloaded to self-service channels like the Web, leaving the more complex cases going to the call centers.”

CFI Group conducts the study of customer satisfaction with call centers to aid executives as they navigate this new business climate and changing role of call centers. The strategic importance of call centers has created a demand for more meaningful metrics and advanced analytics capable of linking performance to behavioral and financial outcomes. Call centers are increasingly expected to deliver on the company brand experience and positively affect revenue.

A few other worthy notes regarding this year’s index:

* On the private-sector side, property and casualty insurance call centers led all sectors at 80, in spite of a one-point drop from last year
* Health insurance call centers experienced the largest gain of four points at 75. The strong showing by insurance companies bodes well for an industry faced with change and increased competition.
* Personal computer call centers were the only other group that experienced an improvement in their score, an increase of just two points from 73 to 75.
* On the government side, the Veterans Affairs agency topped the list with an overall score of 72, while the Social Security Administration and Department of Education followed at 70.
* There remains a significant gap in satisfaction between onshore versus offshore centers.
* Call centers that can provide first-call-resolution and minimize call transfers score much higher. This suggests that technology that empowers call representatives may be a good investment.

For more detail on the 2011 Call Center Satisfaction Index, including specific detail on industries, visit

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