Facing the ugly truth: Poor customer service comes at a cost

Jenna McAuliffe,

2019 global customer service insights

Left waiting on hold, having to repeat yourself every time you get bounced to a new department, dealing with rude customer service agents. We all know some of the frustrations that make people dread contacting customer service. And in our recent survey, The good, the bad, the ugly: 2019 global customer service insights, we learned that those frustrations can carry big costs for a business.

Here are a couple of stats that really drive home the impact of poor service:

  • 89% of customers say that poor service damages their impression of a brand.
  • 75% of customers have stopped using an organization’s services because of a poor customer service experience.

Think about that for a moment. If customers receive poor service, three out of four are willing to walk away. That means that providing strong customer service is a business imperative.

We surveyed three groups to gain insights into the current state of service. We polled the employees on the front line – those in a customer-facing service role, and the leaders who oversee them. We also asked customers what they think. While these three groups aligned in some cases, like what matters most, their perspectives also differed in key areas, like the quality of service more organizations provide. Here are some of our key takeaways (and what they mean for you):

The need for speed in superior service

Customers, employees, and leaders all agree: speed is the most important aspect of customer service. And it’s no longer enough to respond quickly – nowadays, customers want quick resolutions. Fifty-nine percent of customers consider a quick resolution of the issue or question to be the most important aspect of customer service. On the flipside, 82% of customers identified duration – or taking too long to receive customer service – to be their top frustration. If you want to improve your customer service, strive to make it speedier – from first contact, through resolution.

People are at the heart of service

When we asked customers to think of fantastic service, some of the first words that came to mind were friendly, helpful, and polite. That means your agents and service representatives are a crucial piece of your customer service strategy. Knowledgeable service agents also ranked as the second most important aspect of customer service for customers as well as for employees and leaders. Customers seek agents who know how to deliver solutions but who also know and understand them. Sixty-three percent of customers think that understanding them and their preferences should be a top priority for customer service teams. If understanding your customers isn’t a top concern, maybe it’s time to reexamine your priorities.

Your service isn’t as great as you think

While businesses generally do a good job, with more than half (54%) of customers rating the average quality of service as above average, both employees and businesses feel even more confident about the quality of service they provide. Seventy-three percent of employees and 89% of leaders rate their service as above average. The gaps here, with 19% more employees and 35% more leaders than customers rating service as above average, highlights that businesses are overly self-assured that they are providing great service. Check in with your customers. Find out what they really think about the customer service you provide.

Customers want connected experiences

Many customer frustrations with service ultimately come down to disconnected, disjointed experiences. While the length of time it takes to receive service is their top frustration, other customer frustrations include:

  • Repetition – 76%
  • Lack of transparency – 64%
  • Inconsistent experiences – 53%

Having to repeat themselves, not knowing the status of the query, and receiving inconsistent service based on how they contact a company all highlight a disconnected approach to customer service. In a connected model, customer information is retained across different touchpoints, customers are aware of where they stand in the process, and each experience is consistent – regardless of which channel a customer uses to contact customer service. To mitigate these frustrations, strive toward a more connected approach.

Businesses see the potential in tech

Within the next two years, 95% of business leaders plan to invest in more advanced technology to support their customer service. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the top technology solutions they are interested in. In fact, 78% of leaders currently use or plan to introduce AI for customer service. And they see many benefits to doing so. From the operational side, like improving efficiency, to the customer engagement side, like better overall experience, the payoffs of AI span the business. If your organization is not currently using or planning to use AI for customer service, you’re missing out on a number of benefits – and are likely to fall behind your competitors.

Customer service is a major piece of the overall customer experience you provide. It impacts your customers’ impression of your brand, and when your service doesn’t meet customer expectations it can cost you. Poor service is enough to drive customers away. And that means that providing great service must be a top priority. If you feel sure that you are providing great service, think more about the gap between customers and employees and leaders when it comes to above average service. Are you possibly feeling overly confident? Consider whether you provide the kind of disconnected service experiences that lead customers to be frustrated. And then ask yourself, can we do better?

The moral of the story is that while the service you provide is likely good, you probably have a way to go before your service is truly excellent. And as your competitors continue to invest in more advanced solutions, it’s only going to become increasingly more difficult to provide standout service. The businesses that make the right service choices now will continue to reap the benefits later, with more satisfied, loyal customers.

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Tags

  • Topic: Customer Service
  • Challenge: Customer Service

About the Author

As a Content Marketing Manager, Jenna McAuliffe creates informative content that helps enterprises to better understand and solve their digital transformation challenges.