SOURCE: Aspect Software

April 17, 2007 08:00 ET

2007 Aspect Contact Center Satisfaction Index Finds Year-Over-Year Improvements in Company-Customer Interactions; Sees Direct Link Between Bad Experiences and a Negative Impact on Revenue

Aspect Index Shows Contact Centers Earned a C- According to Consumers; a Slight Increase Over 2005 Aspect Index - North America

CHELMSFORD, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 17, 2007 -- Aspect Software, Inc., the world's largest company solely focused on the contact center, and Leo J. Shapiro and Associates, one of the nation's premier market research companies, today announced the results of the 2007 Aspect Contact Center Satisfaction Index™ - North America, the first and only published independent survey of consumer experience versus expectations of contact center interactions in North America.

Established in 2005, the Aspect Index provides an indicator to quantify consumer satisfaction with the quality of their telephone and Internet interactions with companies and their representatives. The 2007 Aspect Index - North America measured many of the same attributes as in 2005, but also gathered some new data, including:

--  The specific distinctions between exceptional contact center
    experiences and the typical customer experience.
--  Greater detail on how automated systems are affecting the overall
    customer experience.
--  Increased detail on how and when consumers are using contact channels.
    
The 2007 Aspect Index found that consumers who have an exceptional contact center interaction experience many commonalities that include: quickly responding to inquiries or issues, providing accurate and detailed product and service information, setting expectations for what will transpire after an interaction and transferring knowledge to customers so they are qualified to make informed decisions.

"For this year's Aspect Index, we felt it was important to identify examples of exceptional customer experiences to help contact centers understand how such experiences may impact a company's top line," said Margaret Mueller, Sr. Research Analyst, Leo J. Shapiro & Associates. "The survey results show that customers can be won or lost over the course of a single interaction. We hope that by calling out the criteria or actions that appear to create a pleasant experience, we can help contact centers determine what specific actions to take to satisfy their customers and grow their business."

The survey found that:

--  Consumers that have an exceptional experience are a third as likely to
    do more business with that company in the future.
--  Nearly 75 percent of consumers who had a bad experience say they will
    do less business with a company, and 60 percent of those say they will do
    much less business.
    
"These are some pretty powerful statistics," said Mike Sheridan, senior vice president of strategy at Aspect Software. "And, this is the kind of information that should really prompt companies to take a close look at how they can improve the overall experience they are delivering to their customers and prospects."

The 2007 Aspect Index survey takes into consideration 25 attributes across three categories:

--  Empathy and Advocacy - the human aspect of customer interactions, such
    as patience, knowledge, professionalism, and friendliness.
--  Efficiency - the overall quality and speed of the experience including
    being able to quickly speak with an agent, authority to resolve issues, and
    clear connection.
--  Automation - explores ease-of-use of technologies like automated
    menus, multiple contact choices, and access of contact information from
    website.
    
Based on the findings of the Aspect Index, applying an "A through F" report card measurement tool, in 2007 North American contact centers performed on average at a C- (72.4 percent) level according to consumers. This is slightly higher than the D+ (69.6 percent) grade that contact centers received in the 2005 Aspect Index. The 2007 Aspect Index also saw slight incremental increases across the three categories as compared to 2005, which might be attributed to consumers' greater satisfaction with email and chat.

"The thing that contact centers should take away from this information is that it's fairly easy to meet consumer demands and it typically doesn't require an overhaul of contact center technology and infrastructure to do so. Generally speaking, most of the changes can be affected through improving tools and training processes with agents, changing business rules to send customers to automated solutions only when it can address their issues or to an agent that has the right skills and right resources at their fingertips," said Sheridan. "Overall, consumer demands are not that outrageous and if companies listen and respond to those demands, they will have a significant business advantage."

Key Findings of the Aspect Contact Center Satisfaction Index

Using a combination of telephone and online methods, the Aspect Index surveyed more than 1,000 consumers, producing a sample with an overall level of statistical significance of +/-3 percent, on various attributes including knowledge of agents, the ability to speak with a person without a long delay and the ability of an automated system to resolve issues. The 2007 Aspect Index also surveyed 250 consumers that had an exceptional contact center experience. All of the consumers were only asked about their most recent contact center interaction.

"StarTek is in a very competitive industry and we are continuously looking for ways in which to differentiate our services and support," said Mary Beth Loesch, StarTek senior vice president of business development. "The Aspect Index findings are very useful and help identify areas where our contact centers can help improve the services we're providing to our clients and their customers."

Some additional key findings of the 2007 Aspect Index include:

--  Nineteen percent of consumers who had a typical contact center
    experience feel that contact center interactions fell short of their
    expectations vs. 23 percent in 2005.
--  Consumers who have an exceptional experience feel that only 3 percent
    of contact center interactions fell short of their expectations.
--  Phone interactions still dominate: 73 percent of contact center
    interactions take place via phone; 24 percent take place via email; and 4
    percent via chat.
--  Seventy-two percent of all contact center interactions begin with an
    automated system; only 57 percent of the exceptional interactions began
    with an automated system.
--  Consumers who reach an automated system, rather than a live person,
    say they will do less business with the company.
--  Twenty-two percent of consumers who had to repeat information after
    being transferred from an automated system to an agent will do less
    business with the company.
--  Sixty-six percent of consumers who had an exceptional experience are
    more likely to do more business with that company in the future.
--  One in six consumers who had a typical customer experience is likely
    to switch companies.
--  One in seven consumers report the automated system did not give the
    option to speak with an agent.
--  Consumers who had an exceptional experience were more likely to try to
    fully resolve the situation with a menu-driven system.
    
About the Aspect Contact Center Satisfaction Index

The 2007 Aspect Contact Center Satisfaction Index™ - North America is based on responses from more than 1,250 consumers across North America who responded to the annual independent survey from Aspect Software and Leo J. Shapiro and Associates. The Aspect Index is the only published measure of experience versus expectation of contact center interactions in North America and Europe. The Aspect Index measures the attitudes of consumers about the quality of consumer interactions with companies via telephone, email and online chat. It expresses, in a single "grade," the responses to a survey conducted by an independent research firm that covered more than 25 measures relating to contact center interactions and related technologies and their application. For more information, visit www.aspectindex.com.

About Leo J. Shapiro and Associates

Leo J. Shapiro and Associates is one of the nation's premier market research companies with more than 50 years of experience across a wide range of industries. Leo J. Shapiro and Associates has been behind a variety of indexes that measure consumer behaviors and attitudes including retail customer service satisfaction, significant consumer trends, grocery store shopping and others. Learn more about Leo J. Shapiro and Associates at www.ljs.com.

About Aspect Software

Aspect Software, Inc. founded the contact center industry and is now the world's largest company solely focused on Internet Protocol (IP) and traditional voice-based products and services for customer service, collections, and sales and telemarketing business processes. Each day, Aspect Software powers more than 125 million customer-company interactions at thousands of in-house and outsourced contact centers around the globe. Its trusted Signature product line offers automatic call distributors (ACDs), dialers, voice portals and computer telephony integration (CTI). The company's leading Contact Center Performance Optimization product line provides workforce management, quality management, performance management and campaign management applications. And, its pioneering Unified IP Contact Center product line delivers a comprehensive, multichannel solution. Headquartered in Chelmsford, Mass., Aspect Software has operations across the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. For more information, visit www.aspect.com.

Aspect, Aspect Software, and Aspect Contact Center Satisfaction Index are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Aspect Software, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. The names of other companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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