Pegasystems recently surveyed more than 4,000 consumers between the ages of 16 and 60+ from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia on a variety of customer service issues, giving us some interesting perspectives on how customers prefer to engage with organizations. A couple of insights that immediately stood out include:
- They call for help, but they hate doing it: When we asked consumers how they prefer to handle customer services issues, 42% said they prefer to talk to someone on the phone, however, a majority of respondents (57%) said they dread calling customer service. The second most popular method of contacting a company? Email (35%).
- Consumers want their inquiries resolved in half the time: Respondents said that their last customer service engagement took, on average, 19 minutes. Our survey group wants faster results. They think that organizations should ideally be able to resolve their inquiry in 9 minutes.
At a time when organizations are transforming to support a variety of channels, it seems odd that the majority of the consumers we surveyed still prefer to talk to a call center rep. But with an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population connected by mobile devices, it makes sense that consumers would take advantage of their phone at hand. Many want to engage with organizations in real-time, and want to be efficient with their time – a call from a mobile device is one way to do that.
But, customer engagement is more than just answering calls from mobile phones. As customer service speaker and expert Shep Hyken noted earlier this year in Forbes’ “The New Rules of Customer Engagement” study, “Consumers want exceptional experiences. They just want to buy the way they want to buy, have their questions answered, their problems solved, and their comments acknowledged. It’s really about connecting and responding to the customer.”
In short, consumers are looking for organizations to know and understand their individual, personal needs, then respond quickly. So how can organizations satisfy the consumer’s needs for personalized interactions in a faster timeframe… and provide options for customers who hate to make that service call?
Context is key, regardless of the channel.
I’m always amazed when I call into my credit card customer service, am prompted to input my card number, and – after working my way through the voice menu to get to a service rep – have to verbally repeat that number. Then have to repeat my card number (plus address, postal code, and phone number) again if transferred to another agent for help. It’s a red flag that I’m in for a long conversation. I expect in this age of “smart” everything that the company would have a system that presented the rep on the other end of the line with my account info, relevant data, and some guidance on why I was transferred and how to help – instead of repeating the details of my account and why I’m calling.
With the technology available today, there is no excuse for an organization not to offer the prompt, personalized type of engagement that consumers value. This expectation holds true for web self-service, email, chat, and social channels, as well, for those folks who don’t like calling and would rather try to resolve their issue through another channel first.
Organizations that are using context to deliver a connected, customer-centric experience are succeeding.
We’ve found organizations that leverage both customer data and real-time context across a variety of channels are realizing great success. Take, for example, Telstra, the largest telco in Australia, who reduced customer move complaints by 30% and improved customer advocacy by 180% by using tools to better understand and orchestrate their customer journeys. This personalized, end-to-end management has been a key component for their success.
Similarly, mobile network operator EE is combining real-time context with big data and analytics to determine the most relevant offers for their customers. By using context plus data to personalize their interaction with each customer, they have been able to make offers more quickly, and increased their number of accepted offers by 300%.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leanne Russell, managing editor of Pega’s Insights blog, helps high-tech leaders share their knowledge, experience, and success stories.