Public calls for choice when contacting government

BT and Avaya research finds that people understand the need for efficiency but still expect flexibility to choose contact channel when dealing with government 

Public sector organisations should be wary of restricting people’s choice in how they contact them, suggests new research from BT and Avaya. While 86 per cent of people appreciate the need for efficiency only 28 per cent agree that making online self-service the exclusive contact channel for public services would be a good way for the government to save money and provide a good level of service. 

The survey, which polled 1,000 people, found that despite the growth in online channels the phone remains the most popular method of contact with 77 per cent of the public having called an organisation in the six months prior to the survey. Indeed, 54 per cent had used the phone to call a contact centre in the month leading up to the survey compared with 56 per cent for the same period in 2010 — indicating that the phone is holding its own despite the growth of alternative contact channels. Interestingly the survey also revealed that only 28 per cent of the public were in favour of compulsory internet self-service supporting the notion that the majority prefer a choice of channels. 

The majority of people (55 per cent) would like a single number for all government services. Voice recognition and voice self-service are popular too, with specific uses in voter registration, general bill enquiries and checking holiday rubbish collection times all cited. 

Neil Rogers, president Global Government, BT Global Services, said: “People now expect public sector organisations to deliver the same level of customer experience that private sector organisations provide. It’s also clear that in the multichannel age, they do not want their choice of channel restricted. 

“Our Autonomous Customer research suggests that if deployed appropriately, self-service, whether online or over phone, can be a popular addition to customer service channels, creating opportunities to improve people’s experience while reducing costs. The efficiencies made can help create the business case for new multichannel contact centre infrastructure that can deliver the customer experience people have come to expect.” 

Simon Culmer, managing director, UK and Ireland at Avaya, said: “The new challenge for public sector contact centres is to provide inclusive services accessible for all people in a cost effective manner. The public clearly understands the need for efficiency but not at the expense of choice. The most significant factor, regardless of channel used, is that contact centre infrastructures enable the public to access the right knowledge and tools to resolve their enquiries in a timely and efficient manner regardless of device used.” 

Notes to editors 
BT has Avaya Platinum Partner status worldwide and has installed over 100,000 Avaya systems in the last two decades, including over 1,000 contact centres. Through the BT Contact portfolio, BT and Avaya can help organisations use all the communication channels their customers expect in the most integrated and efficient way. Together, they take an end-to-end customer experience management approach, leveraging the resources organisations already have whilst bringing in new, enabling technologies to achieve best practice. 

A series of blogs based on the BT and Avaya Autonomous Customer research will be posted to: http://letstalk.globalservices.bt.com/en/ over the coming weeks. Infographics to support the release can be found at: www.bt.com/btcontact. 

About the research 
Davies Hickman Partners, independent research analysts, carried out the research on behalf of BT and Avaya. The source material was provided through an online survey of 1,000 consumers, with 500 based in the US and 500 in the UK. Age and sex profiles were evenly distributed across the survey to create a representative sample of the population in both countries. 

About Avaya 
Avaya is the worldwide leader in solutions for business collaboration and communication. The company provides Unified Communications, Contact Centers, Networking solutions and related services for companies of every size around the world. For more information: www.avaya.com 

Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "might," "plan," "potential," "predict," "should" or "will" or other similar terminology. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections. While we believe these expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections are reasonable, such forward looking statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control. These and other important factors may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. For a list and description of such risks and uncertainties, please refer to Avaya's filings with the SEC that are available at www.sec.gov. Avaya disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.