Customer satisfaction is one of the most important determinants of brand loyalty. High-quality service can be the difference between a one-time buyer and a lifelong repeat customer.
But not every company does a good job of retaining its customers. InContact Inc., a provider of cloud contact center software, workforce optimization and analytics, recently surveyed more than 700 consumers to identify gaps in customer satisfaction across 10 different customer service channels. The results found that, overall, customers are not getting the resolution they are looking for.
"With eight in 10 customers saying they'd switch to a competitor due to poor customer service, businesses can't afford not to focus on providing consistent, positive touch points along the entire customer journey," said Paul Jarman, CEO of inContact. "Whether it is on the phone, via email or online chat, businesses need to ensure they're resolving customer issues as quickly as possible. [Doing so] leads to positive customer experiences and brand loyalty."
How can you accomplish this as a small brand? Here's what inContact found about consumers' likes, dislikes and expectations when it comes to customer service, and what you can do to cater to those needs. [Want to provide better customer service? Avoid these key mistakes.]
1. Offer the human touch
The study revealed that speaking to a live person is still the most preferred way to deal with customer service – less than half (45 percent) of respondents are satisfied with communication through agent-assisted and self-service channels.
As businesses today explore and adopt automation technologies to improve contact center operations, they need to consider strategies and solutions where technology can augment human interactions – not replace them – in order to ensure fluidity between channels.
2. Move customers out of email and interactive voice response (IVR) channels quickly
According to inContact, IVR and email have the lowest consumer performance ratings and elicit the strongest emotions of anger, disgust and frustration.
Consumers reported that these channels are less personalized, slow and do not provide complete information, and that the phone is the most preferred and effective method of communication. Specifically, the survey revealed that email is the least effective method of resolution, with over one-third reporting the issue as 'still ongoing' or 'nothing more the company can do.'
3. Keep customer data at your fingertips.
InContact's survey shows that consumers, particularly millennials, expect brands to know their purchase history, be proactive and have seamless omnichannel integration. Use CRM software and big data to your advantage and ensure that you have access to as much customer information as possible when interacting with someone.
4. Prioritize pathways to quick resolutions
The biggest driver of channel performance and customer satisfaction is the how quickly a question or issue is resolved. InContact found that customers want companies to direct them to the quickest path of resolution.
One of the key points of frustration of customers is being directed to the incorrect service path, most often when customers call in and are asked to press a certain number based on their request. Unclear descriptions result in customers having to call in multiple times and add to frustration.