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Call centers face rising traffic, despite use of self-service Web sites

Chicago  July 31, 2001  Call centers are increasing their use of self-service Web sites, but offering an online component may actually increase calls to their centers, according to a new survey out this week.

Incoming Calls Management Institute (ICMI) conducted the survey, "The Multichannel Call Center Study," to examine how call centers are implementing and integrating multiple customer-access channels and technologies. Based on a sample of 268 call centers nationwide, the study offers a look at the challenges facing today's call centers as they seek the right mix of technology to properly handle the contacts.

A sampling of conclusions and findings from the study's final report include:

  • The use of self-service Web sites will be on the rise over the next year, with nearly half of the respondents (48 percent) indicating they currently offer online self-service, while another 38 percent plan to offer the channel in the next 12 months.

  • However, non-phone access channels are not, for the most part, reducing agent workload: 57 percent of call centers with self-service Web sites report increases in workload.

  • Approximately one-third of the respondents said their organization was planning to implement call center/Internet-enabling technologies in the next 12 months, including e-mail response management, unified reporting and multimedia queuing.

  • The two biggest challenges facing organizations in developing an Internet-enabled call center are budget (56 percent) and the difficulties of integrating technology with existing systems (46 percent).

A total of 12 industries were included in the study, including financial services, healthcare, computer/Internet services, retail/catalog, insurance, manufacturing, telecommunications, professional services, government/non-profit, travel, utilities and service bureaus. Participants included directors, managers and supervisors from small, medium and large call centers.

The Multichannel Call Center Study Final Report is being released during the 13th annual ICCM conference, taking place in Chicago July 30 through August 2.