Nearly a third of Australian businesses don’t have a customer service strategy in place. That’s dumb.

by Lee Hopkins on June 9, 2011 · 1 comment

in customer service,strategy

customer service

IBM AUSTRALIA and service research company have released research revealing a significant and quantifiable link between Australian organisations that have a mature customer service strategy and commensurate strong business performance.

The study also found that whilst 81 per cent of Australian businesses rate Customer Service Strategy as one of the top three most important business strategies, 28 per cent of businesses in Australia do not have an enterprise-wide Customer Service Strategy in place. The research found that the main barriers for companies that do not have a Customer Service Strategy were related to limited resources – both financial and HR.

The study, ‘Driving Better Business Performance Though Customer Service Strategy’, was undertaken by on behalf of IBM, to identify the most important characteristics of organisations that have a strong focus on Customer Service Strategy and to also understand the implications of a poor Customer Service Strategy implementation.

Of the surveyed organisations, 78 per cent said they used electronic channels within their Customer Service Strategies. Interestingly, 38 per cent are using social media platforms to liaise with customers – this is particularly so in Government, Health and Education sectors.

Peter Monk, Business Process Outsourcing expert, IBM Australia, said:

“This study reinforces and quantifies our anecdotal view that a developed customer service strategy positively impacts business performance. It also shows that Australian companies are embracing a multi-channel strategy which complements traditional customer service channels, with social media being a rapidly growing channel – especially in Government.

“While social media is being embraced by some sectors, Mobile and Web chat are particularly underutilised by organisations. These channels have strong potential. Businesses need to enable all these platforms – not just have a website”

Dr Catriona Wallace, Director of, stated

“Finally there is a study that provides evidence to show that service strategy is a significant driver of business performance, in particular revenue generation. Those organisations that have a true enterprise wide service strategy, rather than an operational approach to service, are gaining the greatest benefit.”

But you don’t have to just set up a call centre (or outsource one). You can use the low-cost/high-touch tools of social media to service your customers and business leads, can’t you?!

IBM WatsonPersonally, I can’t wait for IBM’s Watson to start looking more closely into customer service issues, both for external and internal clients. The opportunities are immense.


Webinar and IBM will be hosting a live webinar to discuss the findings today, Thursday 9th June 2011 between 1pm – 2pm EST. Registrations for the webinar can be made at

Other Significant Findings

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Mid-sized organisations tend to have the most mature Customer Service Strategy scores. Results suggest that smaller organisations struggle to have the resources in place to consider Customer Service Strategy, whilst larger businesses are focused on financial priorities and need to navigate more a more complex bureaucracy;
  • 82 per cent of organisations offer an attendant-based phone channel. Whilst Text and Mobile applications are very popular amongst consumers, in business they are less developed channels [which is plainly dumb business, in my view – Lee];
  • 83 per cent of organisations offer face to face services and 67 per cent have mobile representatives.  Organisations  with a mature Customer Service Strategy have a higher use of online/electronic services, specifically social networking, online forums and web chat. However:
    • Traditional fax and mail continue to be offered by almost all organisations (nearly 100%);
    • And traditional fax and mail are most widely used by those organisations that don’t have Customer Service Strategy (smaller and larger organisations);
  • Organisations that have a Customer Service Strategy in place are more likely to achieve Revenue performance and Employee Engagement goals;
  • Technology is regarded as the most effective strategy for achieving Revenue generation performance goals;
  • HR, Technology and Analytics are regarded as the most effective strategies in achieving Employee Engagement performance goals;
  • Businesses with no Customer Service Strategy place a higher priority on their IT strategy;
  • HR and Technology are regarded to be the most effective strategies for achieving Customer Experience performance goals;
  • The top three functions that business analytics is most often used is:
    • Finance,
    • Employee Engagement Management, and
    • Customer Engagement.

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