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TMCNet:  BT Research Finds Webchat Increasingly Effective Contact Center Communication Channel

[January 31, 2013]

BT Research Finds Webchat Increasingly Effective Contact Center Communication Channel

IRVING, Texas, Jan. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- BT today announced the key lessons from research it has conducted into the latest communication channels being used by contact centers. One of the most significant developments BT has seen is the increasing use of webchat as a channel for advisors to talk to customers. The research acknowledges the growing contribution of webchat to customer satisfaction, employee productivity and cost reduction for contact center operators.

Among its key findings the research, conducted on six contact centers in the UK and India, three of which are operated by BT serving enterprise customers and three run by other large corporations, found that webchat creates a highly positive experience for both customers and advisors.

With many customers starting their journey online, it is now often as convenient for them to initiate a webchat session as to pick up the phone. Further benefits include a calmer and quieter working environment for advisors and fewer challenges due to regional accents and background noise. Webchat also provides a clear audit trail of customer conversations.

Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist at BT Global Services, said: "Due to an increasing number of companies offering webchat to their customers, we decided to conduct research with contact centers that have deployed it and investigate the effects on both customers and advisors.

"We found that webchat is considered to be an equivalent and often superior method of working compared to calls. Webchat also sits comfortably alongside social media, as it allows organizations to draw customers into a more private dialogue, where they can discuss personal details and specific issues in a one-to-one channel. Webchat is also perceived as providing an effective stepping stone, moving customer contacts towards web-based self-service interactions. Our research identifies a double bonus: both advisors and customers like using it and it leads to cost savings for contact center operators. For these reasons, we expect webchat to continue to grow as a channel." It was found that webchat creates a highly positive customer experience, one which is at least as good as a phone call and often superior. Almost three quarters of advisors interviewed agreed that webchat offers customers better service compared to calls. This was attributed to the speed that customers can connect to webchat, typically stated as one minute or less. This is considerably faster than customers might experience when dialing into a menu-driven call center system, with its attendant transfers and hold periods. When initiated effectively, webchat puts customers straight through to an advisor with the relevant skills.

With many customers and advisors now using social media and instant messaging in their personal life, webchat was perceived strongly in terms of ease of use, offering specific benefits such as the ability to quickly cut and paste standard information and being able to scan entire conversations to check customer needs have been met. Overall, 88 per cent of advisors said they like webchat, many of these went further and expressed very high levels of satisfaction.

Many advisors were found to be able to engage in multiple webchat conversations at once, increasing their productivity. Two parallel sessions were normal, with some advisors claiming they could manage more. Webchats between advisors and their colleagues were also common. Advisors suggested that these make them more effective, as they can ask for assistance in real-time while helping customers, and generate a better working environment, with greater team spirit.

From the perspective of management, webchat is a positive development. Written conversations leave a clear audit trail and team leaders are able to easily and quickly step into a webchat. The big advantage is that, unlike calls, the manager can quickly scan through the entire conversation without the need for the customer to repeat themselves. This means escalation processes are far easier from both the customer and manager perspective.

Andrew Small, VP BT Contact, BT Global Services, said: "This is the first of three pieces of research that we'll be publishing over the next month on consumer and operational trends driving innovation in contact centers. In this research, we can see how webchat is receiving positive feedback from customers who are increasingly embracing a multichannel world. Webchat is able to raise levels of employee engagement and change working practices, while being relatively cost effective compared with other channels. We've recognized these benefits for some time and that's why all our BT Contact solutions are multichannel enabled, allowing for the development of webchat and other channels, whilst reducing complexity and cost." About the research The research's source material was provided by employees at six contact centers in the UK and India, three of which are operated by BT serving enterprise customers and three run by other large corporations. The research team conducted semi-structured interviews, work shadowing and ethnographic observations.

About BTBT is one of the world's leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

In the year ended 31 March 2012, BT Group's revenue was £18,897m with profit before taxation of £2,445m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com SOURCE BT

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