SQM’s groundbreaking research shows how customers navigate through an organization’s contact channels when resolving an inquiry or problem. The below diagram shows contact channel volume distribution, and the second channel customers use when they need to contact the organization again to resolve the same inquiry or problem. The first revealing finding is that of all the core contact channels (i.e., call center, web self-service, IVR self-service, and email), the call center channel has the highest contact volume at 40%. The web self-service channel volume is second highest at 28%. This volume is growing substantially with the likelihood of surpassing the contact volume for the call center in the near future.

The second revealing finding for the industry is that the vast majority of customers who start in one contact channel do not like to channel hop to resolve the same inquiry or problem. If a customer’s inquiry or problem is unresolved and they have to contact the organization again, most customers will go back to the first channel they used. In fact, when a second contact was required to resolve the same inquiry or problem for the web self-service channel 79% and IVR self-service channel 81% of customers used the same channel. In most cases, when a customer used another contact channel to resolve the same inquiry or problem, it was the result of the initial contact channel’s failure and not because the customer wanted to use another channel.

However, when a customer uses a second channel to resolve their inquiry or problem, the call center is by far the channel of choice. This is because the call center handles the complex inquiries and problems that the other contact channels are not able to resolve. In addition, the pattern of using the same channel to resolve an inquiry is highest by far with the call center channel.

A best practice for measuring the customer’s experience when using a single channel, or multiple channels, for resolving their inquiry or problem, is to conduct a post channel survey within 24 hours of them using a channel. The metric SQM recommends to measure customer experience using contact channels is the One Contact Resolution (OCR) metric, which is defined as the percentage of customers who resolved their inquiry or problem on their first contact and did not use another contact channel prior to, or after, using the contact center. A simple way to think about this is ‘one contact – one channel.’

OCR is the measure that matters most for organizations who want to deliver on what customers expect, which is to be able to resolve their inquiry or problem in one contact using only one contact channel. Thinking about this in practical terms, customers do not wake up in the morning and say, “I want to use two contact channels to resolve the same inquiry or problem.” So, if an organization wants to deliver on what customers expect, they need to be great at One Contact Resolution!

Channel volume distribution and second channel used

Check out our other post on One Contact Resolution
Check out our conference agenda where Mike will share more data on this vital topic of customer usage of multiple channels