Study: Call Center Issue Resolution Drives Loyalty, Retention, Satisfaction

July 1, 2008

The ability of customer service representatives to resolve customer issues is the most critical driver of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and word of mouth recommendations. Yet one in five customers report their experience with a customer service representative at a call center ends with unresolved problems, according to CFI Group’s second annual Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI).

The second annual CCSI measures customer satisfaction across several industries, including insurance.

Overall, the insurance industry contact centers perform among the best of all eight industries measured by the CCSI, jumping 10 percent from 2007 to 75 on the Index’s 100-point scale.

Despite the insurance industry’s overall improvement, the study found that 17 percent of insurance customers who called the contact center did not have their issue resolved. And customers with unresolved issues are four times more likely to defect from their insurane provider. The study also found that insurance industry customer satisfaction is significantly lower for customers with unresolved issues vs. resolved (44 vs. 83).

For all industries, customers that end their contact with a call center with unresolved problems are half as satisfied (CCSI score of 40 vs. 80) and twice as likely to defect, the study found. Customers punish poor performance, but they reward good customer service, CFI Group says.

The good news, insurance customer service representatives gained 4 percent this year to 80, second only to retail (81), the CCSI study reported.

The CCSI study shows that more customers are using the call center as the resource of last resort. In today’s multichannel environment, customer service representatives are more likely to get a higher proportion of “harder” questions that customers cannot find answers to on a Web site or elsewhere.

The study found that fewer insurance customers tried to resolve their issues through other channels, such as Web sites, before calling the contact center. Therefore, the insurance customer service representatives are more often faced with tougher questions and problems to solve, making their job more difficult.

Overall, customers who tried other methods before calling the contact center have a satisfaction score of 64, which is 15 percent lower than customers who called the contact center directly (75).

On the other hand, customers whose issues are resolved on the first call are 49 percent more likely to continue doing business with the company than customers whose issues are not resolved.

“Customer service representatives are on the front lines of a company’s interaction with their customers, so it’s vitally important that they have the training and resources to do what customers expect of them,” said Sheri Teodoru, CEO of CFI Group. “If customers just wanted to hear a friendly voice, they’d call their mom – but they are calling to get something done.”

Overall satisfaction with call centers improves, as the CCSI gains three percent to a score of 72 on the Index’s 100-point scale.

Offshore Call Centers
Offshore contact centers are doing a better job this year solving issues, but their satisfaction scores still lag behind onshore contact centers by a wide margin (CCSI score 59 vs. 75). The study found that for insurance customers surveyed, only 4 percent believed that the contact center they called was located offshore, the study found. This was the lowest of any industry besides the government.

One of the main challenges for offshore contact centers is effective communication. The study finds that issues are 25 percent less likely to be resolved when customer service representatives are difficult to understand.

“As customer service representatives receive tougher questions, communication is going to become an issue,” said Teodoru. “The last thing a customer wants to do is struggle with basic communication. This is particularly true when customers call the contact center and find that the person on the other end is difficult to understand, doesn’t seem to comprehend the problem, and repeatedly reads from a script.”

Satisfaction with the contact center is an important indicator of loyalty and recommendations. CCSI data show that 94 percent of satisfied customers will do business with the same company again, and 91 percent will recommend.

Percentages for dissatisfied customers are significantly lower. Only 62 percent said they will continue to be a customer, and only 39 percent will recommend.

The CCSI industry scores are as follows:

• Banking (71)
• Cable and Satellite TV (66)
• Cell Phone Service (72)
• Government (70)
• Hotels (78)
• Insurance (75)
• Multi-Channel Retail (76)
• Personal Computers (69)

The full report, including industry analyses, is available for download at no charge at

Source: CFI Group,

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