The results of the 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey have been released. The same parameters of time and speed-of-answer are still prominent. The survey sampled responses of 1,000 U.S consumers and noted the following statistics which are consistent with past data:

  1. The most important aspect of good customer service experience is “getting my issue solved quickly.” (41% of responses)
  2. The second most important was “getting my issue resolved in a single interaction.” (26% of responses)
These results have been consistent for more than 20 years; however, it is worthwhile to note the magnitude of the percentages as a way to gauge the impact of time on the overall experience. The impact of not meeting the customer expectations for timeliness can be seen in the additional responses.

65% of the respondents indicated they have left a brand over a poor customer experience. The reasons that they listed are:

  1. Making multiple contacts for the same reason (47%)
  2. Transferred from agent-to-agent (43%)
  3. Poor communication skills (poor manners) (37%)
There were a number of write-in responses that were the result of language difficulties.

Social Media Impact

Social media impact was considered on the survey and some interesting results were obtained. The survey results indicated that 84% of those responding used search engines to try to resolve their customer service questions and more customers use the social media to give positive responses (52%) than to complain (35%). The impact of social media can be seen by the high percentage of customers who are now using social media to get assistance. These statistics suggest that companies should give significant attention to their web sites. Satisfaction can be driven from the web site as well as through making contact with an agent.  

The bottom line from this survey is that time to resolve customer issues remains at the top of the list. The second takeaway is that speed alone is not the answer. A quick answer that does not resolve a customer problem will not be viewed positively by the customer and will cost the company additional money and resources to eventually resolve the problem. One of the best management strategies used is to “kill the call.” By killing the call the company is saying spend enough time to get the problem resolved. It makes no sense to deal with a customer without getting a resolution. A call back from the customer is expensive and does not create satisfaction. The objective of each transaction between the company and the customer should yield two outcomes; namely the problem should be resolved and the customer concern should be alleviated.  In other words, fix the problem and fix the customer. Of these two, fixing the customer is more important.

The social media component takes on equal importance based on its pervasiveness into our customer culture. Whereas we would have been surprised if 20% would have used a search engine to resolve a problem 25 years ago, the percentage of customers with access to the internet today puts a high level of importance on the performance of the company website. It can be as dissatisfying for a customer to have difficulties on the website as talking to an agent. The business of customer service just got a bit more complicated.

This article was originally published by The Customer Institute