ANN ARBOR — In its annual Call Center Satisfaction Index, the Ann Arbor-based customer satisfaction measurement firm CFI Group reported that call centers are rapidly transforming into contact centers — incorporating the Web, email, and other sources — and that social media play an important role in raising customer satisfaction and likely recommendations.

The CCSI was released Wednesday at the eighth annual IQPC Call Center Summit in Orlando, Fla.

For the sixth straight year, CFI Group has surveyed recent users of customer service functions to analyze the factors that impact satisfaction with call centers. The 2012 survey, involving more than 2,300 participants, found that “non-call” service methods, such as email, Web self-service, chat and other online techniques, now account for more than 30 percent of customer service engagements.

“In our view, we are now truly able to justify calling service centers ‘contact centers’ and not just ‘call centers,'” said CFI Group development and delivery director Terry Redding.

The survey revealed that Web self-service and email dominate the non-phone-call mix of contact channels, but social media are playing a critical role. That role is not as a first-line service channel but rather as a “damage control” mechanism. Customers who posted their experience with a contact center in social media and then received subsequent follow-up via social media concerning their experience rated their final satisfaction with the contact center experience nearly 20 percent higher than those who received no follow-up. Furthermore, consumers who ranked their likelihood to recommend the company in these cases increased by almost 15 percent.

As the way we communicate with each other continues to evolve, social media is quickly becoming the dominant force in customer buzz. In general, people shared their experience with others 47 percent of the time within the 2012 CCSI sample, up from 45 percent of the time in 2011. Of these people that shared, a full 91 percent of them used social media in some form to do their sharing. Facebook dominated the social media channels, representing 33 percent of the “sharing volume.”

The 2012 study also addresses the practice of offshoring and its gradual decline. The 2012 CCSI study shows that 9 percent of call centers are offshoring, compared to its peak in 2008 at 15 percent. CFI Group found that while offshoring as a percentage is decreasing, satisfaction with offshore centers have grown by 20 percent. The improved scores are attributed to two actions:
* A refinement in the types of calls that are relegated to offshore locations. Simple issues that are easier to service and general service support calls now are the ones being managed offshore.
* An appreciation for the increased training required by off-shore centers.

“Over time, it appears that companies wised up to the need to better prepare off-shore centers for supporting U.S. customers,” Redding said.

Call centers of all types have resumed slow but steady improvements in satisfaction scores after a slight dip in 2011. Key drivers of satisfaction contributed across the board to this overall increase in satisfaction, to a score of 77 on a 100-point scale, with no single driver accounting for a disproportionate amount of the increase.

“In part, this steady improvement can be attributed to the ongoing development and adoption of such innovative technologies as advanced call handling, scheduling, knowledge management and voice/text analytics,” Redding said. “Further, we suspect that as companies have come to realize the importance of the service function to their long-term success, they have raised their game in recruiting and retaining ever more competent managers and business people to oversee this function.”

The most improved satisfaction index scores in 2012 compared to the previous year were for companies in banking, property and casualty insurance, and retail, each of which recovered from a decline in 2011. The only drop in satisfaction among the areas studied was a one-point dip in the personal computer sector.

To obtain a report on the 2012 Call Center Satisfaction Index, including specific detail on industries, visit


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