Believe it or not, Irish businesses are reckoned to be faster than their European counterparts at answering calls from consumers, with consumers connected within 33 seconds, according to research by BT. However, on the cyber front less than one third of Irish businesses personalise email communications and only half put their telephone contact details on their websites.
According to the research conducted on behalf of BT by Coleman Parkes into customer service across key Western European countries using a ‘mystery shopper’ approach, Irish consumers calling Irish businesses are connected within 33 seconds, compared to an average of just over a minute elsewhere in Europe.
On top of that, Ireland is rated first at connecting customer calls correctly, with 100pc accurate routing and second behind the UK in terms of quality of response.
The survey targeted 232 household name companies in nine countries using telephone and online methods.
The research also reveals that businesses across Europe have been slow to catch on to multichannel integration. Only 4pc of Irish businesses surveyed were aware of receiving an earlier email when telephoned by the same person asking the same question. Consistency of response is also poor across different channels of communication. Ireland, along with Spain, is ranked lowest with more than 90pc of companies providing different responses to the same questions.
According to the research, only half of Irish business websites provide either a web page or telephone contact details, below the European average of 53pc.
Less than one third of Irish businesses personalise email communication with consumers, below the European average of 57pc. However, despite delays and lack of personalisation, the quality of email response was high with a mean score of 9.2 out of 10, second only to the UK.
Response times via email were quite good with more than 70pc of companies surveyed in Ireland, the UK, Germany and France providing information within five working days; nonetheless defeating the purpose of the real-time, instant response nature of email.
Worse again, information on queuing times is virtually non-existent in all the nine countries surveyed, so customer will have to continue to play the waiting game with no idea of how much longer they will have to hold on the telephone.
Gary Cobain, General Manager Solutions, Esat BT said: “‘Businesses in Ireland and the rest of Europe are still a long way from delivering the best possible service to customers. Customers dealing with a business expect people within that organisation to be connected and integrated with each other.
“If this does not happen and they find themselves endlessly repeating the same information, the customer will take their business elsewhere,” he concluded.
By John Kennedy