Many companies today offer the type of customer service they think their customers want. Unfortunately, there is often a huge disconnection between what companies think a customer needs and what customers actually want and need. A smart customer support provider will ask questions when building a system: What are the customer service expectations and preferences of consumers and the IT professionals who work for companies providing service?
This is precisely what a recent study commissioned by contact center and unified communications solutions provider Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) and carried out by independent research firm Actionable Research sought to answer. In an era of multichannel customer service, these questions are important to ask: companies may be squandering resources on channels that customers don’t want, while giving short-shrift to channels that customers do demand.
“This survey uncovered many interesting differences between the attitudes of consumers and IT professionals,” said Joe Staples (News - Alert), Interactive Intelligence chief marketing officer, in a statement. “For instance, while 61 percent of IT professionals found interactive voice response a valuable service, only 37 percent of consumers did. These types of findings are the first step toward better aligning the expectations of those receiving and providing service.”
Many companies are so focused on peripheral channels that they forget that customers still prefer the telephone and expect the most rigorous support there. The study found that 51 percent of customers still prefer a phone call with an agent to all other channels. The study also found that customers consider a timely response to be one of the most important factors in making a customer experience a good one.
When it comes to customer pain points, the two greatest were not being able to understand the agent – which holds great significance to companies that try to save money with foreign outsourcing – and a condescending attitude by the agent. These two factors were tied at the top of the list: 74 percent of customers cited language barriers and unpleasant agents as the factors most likely to drive them away.
Today, it’s extra-critical to get these things right. Sixty-two percent of customers said they would seek an alternative vendor if their customer support needs are not met to their satisfaction. On the positive side, 64 percent of customers said that they tell others when they have a positive customer service experience, and they are more likely to share a positive experience than a negative experience in social media.
But as with any other business function, one size never fits all in a contact center environment. What works for one company may not work for another, particularly if two organizations have different customer bases. The only way to be sure you are providing a customer with what they want and need is to go ahead and ask them. Making assumptions could be the downfall of the business.
Edited by Peter Bernstein