Interaction Volume by Channel: The 2011 Outlook
TSIA’s offices were closed this week for the holiday, but I’ve been at my desk all week, plugging away on some research reports due this year. As I contemplated my final blog post for 2010, I decided to provide some insight into channel volumes. One of the first pieces of research I published when I joined the SSPA (now TSIA) back in 2006, Multi-Channel Adoption Trends, talked about what percent of interactions were coming from which interaction channel: phone, email, and web. This is always an interesting topic to members, who work to move incident volumes from more expensive assisted support channels to less expensive assisted and unassisted channels.
Of course, in 2011, you can’t talk about channel volumes without including social media. This week I’ve been playing with numbers from three different sources (incident volume by channel from the TSIA benchmark, self-service deflection numbers also from the benchmark, and percent of interactions handled by social media from the TSIA social media survey) to arrive at an estimate of where customer traffic is coming from for 2011. Here’s my estimate:
While most of the attention, training and funding goes toward phone incidents, these represent less than half of total customer interactions today. Email incidents, incidents created by customers online, and self-service resolved issues are all pretty even, and social media interactions represent 9% of total volume. I did not include auto-generated and web chat incidents as these still represent less than 1% with our largely B2B audience. Some thoughts on these numbers:
- We’ve got to stop thinking of phone as the most important customer channel. I continue to hear members say, “If it is important, they will pick up the phone and call.” This is simply not true for younger demographics, even in emergency situations. When I joked at a conference about a customer emailing to report an emergency system crash, I was informed by the audience that hard down issues are reported via whatever channel the customer prefers, and that could be web, email, chat, you name it.
- We’ve got to improve self-service success. I just pulled the latest self-service success number (percent of customers attempting self-service who successfully solve their problem) and the news is not good: 39.8%. As incident volumes continue to climb year over year, we have to boost unassisted support volumes to stay afloat.
- Though self-service has been around for 12-15 years, social media interactions are catching up, with an average of 9% volume (14% for consumer/B2C companies). At this rate, social media interactions will bypass self-service volume in the next 1-2 years. And while social media interactions can involve tech support, many interactions are resolved by other customers, lowering the resolution cost to next to nothing.
I will keep an eye on these numbers and will report back if I see the percentages changing. I wish everyone a very happy New Year, and look forward to working with all of you in 2011. And as always, thanks for reading!