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Pan-European Survey Reveals Telecoms Consumers Want Love, Not Discounts

Subscribers Rate Commitment to Better Customer Service as More Important Than Discounts by a 2 to 1 Margin

Slough, UK (March 03, 2010) – Commitment to improving customer service levels is more important to subscribers than product incentives, according to an independent survey of customer service requirements of over 4,000 European telecoms subscribers, announced today. The survey comprehensively charts sentiment toward customer service among telecoms consumers in key European economies(1) and reveals how changing consumer preference and behaviour is redefining the rules for operational excellence in telecoms customer service. The online survey was undertaken by YouGov Plc and commissioned by eGain Communications Corporation (OTC BB: EGAN.OB).

In contrast to previous industry research on the sector, customer service experiences of telecom providers were rated very positively overall, with less than 5% of respondents citing their most recent experience as poor. The research also found ‘talking to a human being’ (18.9%) as only the fifth most important customer service priority, with online customer service such as chat and web self-service receiving a higher degree of preference.

Key findings

  • Customer loyalty can be better won through commitment to service levels than through special offers or incentives on products.
    • Respondents stated that commitment to faster (53.7%), more consistent and personal (38.1%), and multichannel (41.2%) customer service would make the most difference to them. Only 24% placed ‘more special offers’ among their top three preferences across Europe (only 14% in Germany).
    • Providing access to customer service through ‘any conceivable communication method’ such as online self-service, telephone, chat, email and SMS was more important to French (47.3%) and German (44.4%) respondents than British (35.5%).
  • Talking to a human being is less important than getting a fast, accurate or personalised and consistent response.
    • When asked ‘What do you feel is most important to your own customer experience when dealing with your telecoms service providers?,’ only one in five subscribers listed ‘access to a contact centre agent’ in their top two preferences.
    • Getting a knowledgeable response to a query was most important to respondents, with 41.6% citing this requirement in their top two preferences.
    • 24/7 service availability (34.57%), a quick response to a query (33.1%), and personalised and consistent service (30.88%) also scored well amongst respondents’ top two preferences.
  • The vast majority of respondents rated their last customer service experience as positive, although UK respondents were less optimistic than French and German subscribers about future service levels.
    • Of respondents who have a communications provider, 55.3% cited their last telecoms customer service interaction as positive, with 15% calling it ‘excellent.’
    • Customer experiences were less positive for older age groups. Only 50.35% of 55+ year olds had a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ experience, compared to 57.9% of 18-24 year olds.
    • Consumers are more optimistic (22%) than pessimistic (9.5%) about the development of their telecoms customer service levels over the next 12 months. Only 2.75% of respondents thought that service levels would worsen significantly over the next 12 months.
    • French (36%) and German (25%) customers were the most optimistic about the prospect of future service improvement. UK respondents were less optimistic with only 13% anticipating that service levels will improve in the next 12 months, and over two-thirds (68%) of them expecting to see ‘business as usual.’
  • The survey suggests consumer preferences for online customer service vary according to situation.
    • Customers are happiest to serve themselves for upgrades (with 34.4% placing web self-service as their preferred contact method), yet want some level of interaction for problem resolution (with 27.7% and18.8% of respondents citing email and web chat respectively, as their preferred contact methods).
    • While 18.8% (23% in the UK) chose web chat as their preferred channel of communication for problem resolution, less than half this number (8.26%) would choose it when looking to upgrade.
    • French consumers expressed the highest overall preference for eService channels. For example, 81% of French respondents expressed preferences for eService channels for problem resolution, compared to 77% in the UK and 63% in Germany.
  • Demand for customer service delivery through social media and mobile devices was ranked low in respondents’ service priorities, although younger respondents expressed twice the interest.
    • Few respondents agreed that commitment to extending customer service options through social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter (5.3%), and supporting mobile device interfaces (9.6%) would make a significant difference to them. Demand for customer service delivered through mobile devices was highest among the youngest respondents (12.3% of 18-24 year olds), almost twice that of the oldest (6.8% of 55+year olds).
    • French consumers are more predisposed to innovative service delivery than the rest of Europe, with over 15% prioritising mobile device service delivery (compared to only 6% in the UK) in their top three choices, and over twice as many French respondents citing social media as important (8%) as in the UK (4%) and Germany (4%).

“These positive results confirm the acceleration in telecoms customer service innovation and investment over the past two years. However, many telcos still have some way to go in successfully meeting the fast-paced change of consumer demand,” commented Andrew Mennie, General Manager, eGain EMEA.

“The telecoms sector is highly competitive,” continued Mennie. “With handsets and price plans becoming less meaningful as market differentiators, the ability to deliver accurate and rapid multichannel customer service has clearly made itself a key factor in retaining customers and increasing Average Margin Per User (AMPU). Telcos should take note of consumer migration to online customer service that is already well underway. As subscribers increasingly communicate more through electronic channels, providing top-notch eService and integrating it seamlessly with the phone is critical for success.”

About eGain

eGain (NASDAQ: EGAN) is the leading provider of multichannel customer service and knowledge management software for on-site or on-demand deployment. For over a decade, hundreds of the world’s largest companies have relied on eGain to transform their traditional call centres, help desks and web customer service operations into multichannel customer interaction hubs (CIHs). Based on the Power of One™, the concept of one unified platform for multichannel customer interaction and knowledge management, eGain solutions improve customer experience, optimize service processes end to end, increase sales and enhance contact center performance.

Headquartered in Mountain View, California, eGain has operating presence in North America, EMEA and APAC. To learn more about us, visit www.eGain.com or call our offices: +1-800-821-4358 (US), +44-(0)-1753-464646 (EMEA), or +91-(0)-20-6608-9200 (APAC). Also, follow us on Twitter at @eGain (http://twitter.com/egain) and Facebook at (http://facebook.com/egain).

eGain, the eGain logo and all other eGain product names and slogans are trademarks or registered trademarks of eGain Communications Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. All other company names and products mentioned in this release may be trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective companies.

(1) UK, France and Germany.
The sample included 2052 adults in the UK, 1095 in France and 1003 in Germany. The survey was conducted in January 2010. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. An average has been taken of the three regions, taking in to account the base sizes of each country.

Media contacts: 

Jennifer Manning
Cohesive Communications
Phone: +44 (0)1291 626200
Email: egain@cohesive.uk.com