Consumers prefer web over call centres

15 Feb 2007

Increasing numbers of Irish consumers are using online as their sole means of interacting with an organisation and increasing numbers are moving away from freephone 1800 services, a survey has claimed.

A Computer Associates (CA)-commissioned survey of Irish consumers carried out by Vanson Bourne found that convenience and cost of online customer service delivery was favoured by 90pc of respondents. The survey canvassed 222 Irish consumers about their experiences with call centre service quality versus online.

The survey found that although call centres are seen as being associated with a high service level expectation, consumers believe that call centres are delivering a poor level of service quality and performance.

This, Vanson Bourne warned, could increase the risk of higher churn for businesses as consumers either switch provider or move to pure-play online providers.

The survey showed that 60pc of people are interacting solely online with their banks and 32pc with their credit card company.

In terms of telecoms, 58pc of consumers are interacting with online with their fixed or mobile provider.

Some 22pc of people are interacting solely online with their insurance provider whilst only 19pc are interacting solely online with government or public services.

Overall, 86pc of consumers say they interact solely online with at least one provider from the worlds of banking, entertainment, insurance, telecoms or government.

When comparing call centre against online customer service, online scored more favourably in terms of reliability (59pc), convenience (88pc), cost (90pc), navigation speed (72pc) and providing personal details only once (81pc).

“There are now a large number of people who are using online as their sole means of interacting with an organisation,” said Frank Kennedy, country manager for CA Ireland.

“This is as a result of an increasing number of organisations setting up PRNs (premium rate numbers) and moving away from free phone 1800 services.

“Consumers now view call centres as a premium service and have high service level expectations associated with them, but call centres are failing to raise the bar,” Kennedy warned.

By John Kennedy