Data-Driven Advice for Providing Excellent Customer Service

WRITTEN BY FARA HARON

Data-Driven Advice for Providing Excellent Customer Service
Illustration by Gina Park

What qualifies an excellent customer service experience? We are all consumers who need a little help once in a while, so you would think that this is an easy question to answer—that there are some largely apparent and agreed-upon factors. A timely response, a friendly representative, and of course getting the problem solved in the end. A quality customer service call should be a mutually understood concept between businesses and consumers. However, a recent survey from Arvato has revealed a shocking divide: 500 consumers and business leaders were surveyed, and the numbers show that businesses think the customer service they are providing is notably better than what consumers think they are receiving.

Great Customer Service Means Brand Success

84% of businesses believe their industries “usually” or “always” provide excellent customer service. However, only 9% of consumers think that they “always” get excellent customer service.

Clearly, there is a deep misunderstanding between the two groups. This divide may stem from the fact that businesses are not prioritizing the primary concerns of their customers. The supposedly evident factors that play into customer service—like a speedy response and peaceful resolution—are not so obvious to companies, according to the data. This is bad news for businesses and their bottom lines; an unhappy consumer means a very content competitor. Luckily, there is one crucial element that businesses and consumers agree upon: that customer service is imperative to the success of a brand.

On a scale of 1-10, businesses rank the importance of customer service as a loyalty and retention tool at 8.4; similarly, consumers rank customer service’s impact on brand loyalty at 7.8.

So, the consumers hold the upper hand in this situation. If they have a bad experience with your service, there is always a competing brand awaiting their business and your revenue.

Now, what can you do to ensure that you are not losing out to the competition? Know exactly what your consumers expect from their customer service experiences.

What Concerns Customers the Most

34% of consumers report long hold times as their biggest customer service pet-peeve, but only 14% of businesses are focused on shortening hold times.

The biggest pain point for consumers is waiting a very long time to speak with a representative. In our immediate gratification culture in which wasted time is wasted money, being inconvenienced is a huge frustration. And if a consumer is already calling for help, delaying response to their aid is only escalating their irritation. The longer the wait time, the unhappier the customer and the harder your representatives’ jobs become.

Unsurprisingly, consumers are also expecting more consistently available service. Again, immediate gratification is expected.

Across all industries, the majority of consumers expect 24/7 customer service availability; 40% of businesses acknowledge this expectation.

It is certainly not feasible for a business to simply offer 24/7 service just because it is what the consumer wants; although, there are cost-efficient options like leveraging outsourcing partners to make this possible.

With all this said, businesses are doing an excellent job at getting consumers’ problems solved.

Only 9% consumers report lack of resolution as a pain point.

So, where businesses may be lacking in timely responsiveness, they are getting the job done at the end of the day. This is a positive situation to be in, as the question is not, how can we solve our consumers’ problems, it’s how can we improve their experience with our service? Luckily, data from the survey also provides key insights into how you can address consumers’ biggest concerns.

Three Data-Driven Tips to Address Customer Concerns

1.Consumers are picking up the phone because it works

52% of customers say the phone is the most reliable channel for solving a customer service issue.

Call centers are still necessary and in high demand because a majority of consumers trust that a phone call will help them to arrive at a solution. Talking with a real human is preferred, and understandably so. Voice conversation is efficient, and there is less room for misinterpretation or error than in alternate forms of communication.

2.Proactive technologies are an intelligent investment

31% of consumers want more automatic call-backs and 28% want more real-time order updates.

Both businesses and consumers agree on the benefits of proactive customer service methods. 56% of businesses are invested in automatic call-backs and 72% of businesses are invested in real-time order updates. So, while you may not be able to provide 24-hour service, you can let your consumers know when you will be in touch, or when they can expect service. Consumers simply want to know when their concerns will be addressed, perhaps that way they can plan for timing in their day.

3.Chatbots have potential, but consumers aren’t on board yet

Only 6% of consumers want more companies to offer chatbots and 49% don’t want to be served by a chatbot at all.

Chatbots are a hot topic for many businesses as a supposedly simple, and quick way to connect with customers. But, is the hype surrounding chatbot solutions bigger than they deserve? 65% of businesses are not considering employing them at all in their future business plans and consumers as a whole are equally unenthused.

However, businesses should understand generational variance when it comes to chatbot preferences. According to the survey, 55 percent of consumers under the age of 30 do not mind being served by a chatbot. If the brand wishes to appeal to a younger audience, then the technology is likely worth investing in. Chatbots can reduce wasted time and cost for businesses as they are able to answer more mundane questions, and are an intelligent option for a company with a young audience.

Final Thoughts

Excellent customer service is a precarious plate to balance, as there are so many factors to consider. At the end of the day however, customer service starts and ends with people, with technology serving as a helpful aid, but not the be-all-end-all. Customers prefer to speak to a person on the phone because it is efficient and effective; thus, call centers should be focusing on methods to make the phone experience more convenient.

We may see the metrics change in favor of chatbots or digital solutions in the future, but the current state of the industry shows that consumers dislike being inconvenienced. Organizations should concentrate on addressing consumers’ current biggest concerns by connecting with them proactively—technology can help to do so with people leading the way.

Fara Haron is the CEO of Global BPS at Arvato and is a member of the Arvato CRM board. She has been with Arvato since 2009, and has led a rapidly growing team of CRM professionals while leveraging her international experience to support Arvato’s global CRM business.
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