The quality of customer service being offered varies greatly by industry, new research finds.
No one provides poorer customer service than cable and Internet providers, according to research from the cloud contact center provider CorvisaCloud. Specially, nearly half of consumers surveyed said their cable or Internet company offers the worst customer service, up 16 percent from a year ago.
Wireless providers and online retailers are among the other industries consumers loathe dealing with. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed think wireless providers offer the worst customer service, while 13 percent said the same about the online businesses they deal with.
When it comes to those providing good customer service, the hospitality, retail and financial industries top the list. Specifically, 30 percent think businesses in the hospitality industry, such as hotels, offer the best customer service. In addition, more than 20 percent each rate financial institutions, including banks, insurance companies and credit companies, and retailers as having top-notch customer service.
Most consumers feel business size also plays a role in whether or not they get quality customer service. The study found that nearly half of consumers think small, independent businesses provide the best customer service, compared with just 11 percent of large companies. [The Four-Letter Words That Could Sink Your Customer Service ]
The good news is that consumers are seeing an improvement in the customer service they're receiving. The research revealed 60 percent of consumers reported an improvement in customer service in the last year.
Despite the progress, there are still a number of areas customer service agents need to improve on, according to the study. Nearly half said the customer service representatives they speak with are uniformed and difficult to understand, while nearly 80 percent sound robotic, like they're reading from a script.
Additionally, 18 percent said one of the biggest areas where customer service can improve is in making sure information the customer has already shared is passed along when the call is transferred.
Based on the survey's results, CorvisaCloud has developed a list of tips to help businesses improve their customer service experience.
- Cut down on hold times: Hold times are often triggered by inflexible systems that can't scale to handle fluctuating call volumes, improper staffing or utilization of staff, or poorly structured call menus. Decrease hold times by using technologies that make it easy to adjust queues on the fly or tweak interactive voice response (IVR) menus based on common issues that are uncovered in post-call reports.
- Hire the right people: Make sure your customer service representatives are straightforward, smart, sweet, empathetic and well-spoken.
- Training: Address consumer frustrations through agent training and ongoing coaching.
- Lose the robotic responses: While it's somewhat ironic, technology can actually help agents avoid robotic conversations by providing a visual and guided approach to customer engagement. Modern workflow automation and call guidance tools can help customer service reps cover their bases with the flexibility to focus on what each customer really needs, leaving the strictly linear approach of old call scripting behind.
- Provide multiple channels: While 55 percent still prefer to get help by phone, others indicated they will also use Web chat, email and social media. While the phone call still reigns supreme, be sure to give customers added options for contacting you. Additionally, make sure that customer service and data can easily transition between each contact option in order to retain an individual and aggregate view of customer needs.
The study was based on surveys of 1,214 consumers, the majority of whom were between ages 25 and 44.
Originally published on Business News Daily.