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Australian Consumers Demand Multiple Channels For Customer Service



Avaya 2013 APAC Customer Experience Index survey reveals high satisfaction levels with video chat and a propensity to share negative feedback and complaints via social media

Key takeaways

·         “Channel Bouncing” is common among Australian consumers and indicates a strong requirement that companies offer multiple channels with which to interact with customers

·         While video chat is a relatively new channel for customer service, the overwhelming majority of Australians who have used it enjoyed the experience

·         Face-to-face contact remains an important avenue for Australians when contacting a range of organisations (which might explain the likely strong future uptake of video that tracks this in-person experience)

·         Australian consumers are more likely to use social media to post negative comments – the implication being that the use of this public forum is strategic and intended to drive immediate action 

For Immediate Release: October 11, 2013

Sydney, Australia – Avaya has revealed that “channel bouncing”, the tendency of consumers to use many different customer service channels (e.g., website, phone, email, branch visits, etc.) to resolve an issue, is a critical feature of doing business in Australia and consequently must factor into any effective customer service equation. 

The findings of the newly published Avaya Asia Pacific Customer Experience Index (formerly the Avaya Contact Centre Consumer Index), now in its sixth edition, also shows the vast majority (92 per cent) of Australian consumers who had used video chat as a contact method were happy with the experience and 75 per cent were likely to use it again if offered the choice.

Video chat seems to drive repeat use where available (4.86 times on average in the past three months) which is second only in repeat use behaviour to mobile applications which had an average of 6.22 uses in the same period.   

Despite video chat’s high satisfaction rating, it still remains a relatively untapped customer service option with only two per cent of Australians having used it in the survey period, reflecting the fact that it is emerging as a customer service tool.  While there are a growing number of customer service channels, face-to-face interaction remains extremely popular for Australians with almost half of consumers contacting a company in person in the past three months.  Though unexplored in the survey, the high proportion of face-to-face customer contact (45 per cent) would suggest there is an appetite for visual interactions which could see video chat become more popular if it were more widely available and fully integrated with other customer experience tools.

Use of another emerging customer service channel, social media, increased by 50 per cent year over year (eight per cent in 2012 to 12 per cent in 2013), making it the fastest-growing customer service channel along with mobile applications (also eight per cent last year to 12 per cent this year). Of those people who used social media to contact a company, Facebook was the primary method with more than two thirds (68 per cent) posting directly onto a company’s Facebook page while only 16 per cent tweeted about an issue, tagging the company in the post (five per cent tweeted about a query without tagging the company, which likely suggests an incomplete understanding of Twitter on the part of the user).

Unsurprisingly, complaints were the most common query type on social media with 20 per cent of Australians having used Facebook or other social media to complain with only 10 per cent having used the channel to seek help resolving a problem. Social media seems to have emerged as an option for Australians who are unhappy with the response they have received through other channels with 62 per cent of customers who used social media having previously tried to resolve the query with the company through other means.

Australians also seem acutely aware of how negative feedback on social media affects a company with the top three reasons for posting the query being to share their experience with others (52 per cent), escalating the issue within the company (48 per cent) and getting a quicker response (43 per cent).

Despite the growth of social media and mobile applications, telephone conversations still remain the most popular channel used overall (62 per cent). The telephone was also the clear favourite when seeking help to resolve a problem with 79 per cent of consumers having called a contact centre for this query. Face-to-face contact was the second most popular method for seeking help (37 per cent) suggesting that Australians prefer personal interactions when it comes to more complex queries.

Key Australian consumer trends from the 2013 Avaya APAC Customer Experience Index

1.    Phone conversations with live agents remain the primary customer service channel

·         Speaking with customer service representatives on the phone is the most popular channel used overall, despite the growth of other non-voice channels

·         The majority of Australian consumers prefer to use the phone to contact customer service centres over all other methods (64 per cent); Baby Boomers in particular agreed, with 74 per cent preferring the telephone to any other channel

2.    Web self-service channels are expected to increase significantly over the next 12 months

·         More than a third (35 per cent) of consumers expect their use of web self-service channels to increase in the next year; this is the highest expected increase of all customer service channels

·         Web self-service was the third most-used channel overall with 41 per cent of Australians having used it in the past three months

·         Web self-service was most popular (equal with phone conversations) for updating customer details with 73 per cent having used it for this query

3.    Web chat usage has decreased significantly

·         The use of web chat has decreased from 16 per cent in 2012 to five per cent in 2013

4.    Smartphone apps are expected to continue their rise in popularity

·         The use of smart phone applications for customer service queries grew by 50 per cent (the equal-highest growth along with social media) increasing from eight per cent last year to 12 per cent this year

·         More than a quarter (27 per cent) of consumers expected their use of mobile applications to increase in the next 12 months which is the second-highest expected increase behind web self-service

5.    Sharing complaints and negative experiences is the primary use of social media in a customer service context

·         Australians are 66 per cent more likely to post a complaint to social media than any other query type

·         Facebook is the primary social media platform used to interact with a company with  68 per cent of those who used social media posting their queries directly to a company’s Facebook page

·         The use of social media as a customer service tool had the equal-highest growth (along with mobile applications) rising from eight per cent last year to 12 per cent this year

6.    Video chat has a high customer satisfaction rating

·         92 per cent of Australian consumers who had used video chat in the past three months were happy with the experience (the remaining eight per cent registered their response as neutral)

7.    Gen Y consumers were happier to use a wide range of contact methods

·         Almost three quarters (71 per cent) of Gen Y consumers were happy to use a wide range of contact methods and were most likely to try to resolve their query personally by using information on the company’s website (66 per cent)

·         Baby Boomers were happier than Gen X consumers to use a wide range of contact methods (65 per cent versus 57 per cent)

8.    Australian consumers would pay more money for better customer service

·         More than half (56 per cent) of Australians would pay more money if they always received excellent customer service with 41 per cent saying they would be happy to pay 10 per cent more

·         91 per cent of consumers would actively advise their friends and family to avoid a company if it gave poor customer service

·         88 per cent of people would actively avoid buying more products or services from a company that had poor customer service

9.    Consumer use of the automated phone channel has fallen sharply

·         The use of IVR systems in conjunction with a phone conversation has fallen from 61 per cent last year to a mere 12 per cent in 2013

·         Automated phone channel usage by itself fell from 33 per cent in 2012 to nine per cent this year

Supporting Quote:

“This report is striking for many reasons.  First, it tells us that Australians deeply care about customer service – so much so, that they are willing to pay more for it.  The findings also tell us a lot about how the customer service equation is changing and how it’s not changing.  For example, the age-old importance of the human element can be seen in the continued high value placed on face-to-face interaction – but does this mean necessarily in person?  No, because we’re also seeing a robust embrace of video chat which can deliver a similar experience to in-person by taking advantage of all those important cues that live interaction gives us, like body language and eye contact.”

“Ultimately, what we think is most compelling about this report – and why we conduct it year after year – is that it gives those serious about customer service both a benchmark for their present activities and as close to a road map for the future as you can get.  How is social media being used?  Well, never before has customer service been at risk of becoming a public spectacle and these findings underscore how consumers are much more inclined to use this revolutionary public forum to complain.  Clearly anyone with a business that relies on customers needs to factor this tendency, possibly one that is calculated to embarrass and drive action, into their service equation.  If I have to sum up the research, it would be that not only do you need a comprehensive means of monitoring and interacting with all major social media channels, but customer service needs to bring all of the different communication channels into one fold and under one philosophy that truly understands Australian consumers and what matters to them.”

Tim Gentry, Managing Director, Australia/New Zealand, Avaya

About AvayaAvaya is a global provider of business collaboration and communications software and services, providing unified communications, contact centers, networking and related services to companies of all sizes around the world. For more information please visit www.avaya.com .  

Certain statements contained in this press release may be forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "might," "plan," "potential," "predict," "should" or "will" or other similar terminology.  We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections. While we believe these are reasonable, such forward looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control. These and other important factors may cause our actual results to differ materially from any future results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. For a list and description of such risks and uncertainties, please refer to Avaya's filings with the SEC that are available at www.sec.gov. Avaya disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.





[1] The 2013 Avaya Asia Pacific Customer Experience  Index has been compiled following a series of online surveys with consumers who have contacted a customer service centre (contact centre) in the past three months. The survey covered 2,445 respondents across Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and India, and included over 300 unique respondents from Australia. Research was conducted in August and September 2013 by Fifth Quadrant on behalf of Avaya.