Less than half of consumers who reach out to customer service teams for assistance are able to get the help they need without coming back a second time, according to data released this week from Northridge Group.
Based in Rosemont, Ill., Northridge group surveyed approximately 1,000 U.S. consumers and 250 business leaders in large companies for its State of Customer Service Experience 2020 report.
The finds showed that, despite the challenges wrought by the pandemic, customers continue to set high expectations around the experience a brand delivers, with nearly three quarters, or 73 per cent, saying they are likely to switch to a competitor after one negative encounter.
Unfortunately, the same percentage said they wait a long time to reach a live agent and 60 per cent said they have to repeat information multiple times.
Part of the issue might stem from brands overestimating the way customers will engage via digital channels. While 68 per cent increased their use of online shopping, only 63 per cent used digital apps. This is in contrast to the 81 per cent of business execs who believed they would do so.
In the report, the Northridge Group authors suggested companies may need to spend more time on the user experience design of tools like apps if they want to achieve their desired service improvements.
“Customers want to use digital apps and self-service channels. In fact, 77% of customers report they’ll continue to favor self-service tools post-pandemic. It’s imperative they’re easy to use and effectively provide complete issue and inquiry resolution,” the authors wrote, noting that consumers have also increased their use of primary channels such as e-mail and phone since the novel Coronavirus emerged. “With increased demand, having a robust forecasting and resource planning process to effectively manage and staff the contact center is critical.”
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The Northridge Group study shows an even greater disconnect in what businesses feel is important from a CX investment perspective and how consumers would allocate those budgets.
In a pyramid-style ranking of priorities, for instance, business execs said providing “a consistent omni-channel experience” was at the top. Customers, however, said speed of issue resolution was most critical from their perspective. Customers also emphasized the need to have customer service accessible, while companies were more interested in personalization opportunities.
This was a good reminder that while companies may hope to enhance their relationships with customers to possibly cross-sell and upsell, customers simply want to get the help they’ve requested. And fast.
There was additional proof of this in another section of the 25-page report, which showed businesses believed customers would wait a day before contacting them a second time. The reality was that 55 per cent of consumers said they would try again in an hour or less, using a different channel.
“Customers have the highest expectations of channels that provide human support,” the report’s authors added. “The number of customers reporting phone and online chat as the fastest channels for issue resolution increased 5-7 percentage points since 2019.”
Increased automation may not pay off unless it’s towards self-service tools that are so intuitive they seem truly better than asking a real, live person to troubleshoot an issue instead.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.