Are brands giving consumers the right answers?

25th Apr 2018

Today’s brands understand the importance of delivering service that meets customer expectations. They recognise that a big part of this is about managing knowledge in order to deliver fast, consistent, personalised and accurate responses to questions that customers are asking – whatever channel they are using.

However, research from Eptica shows that brands are still failing to meet customer needs in this area. On average and across every channel, 86% of consumers say they are unhappy with the answers they receive from companies. Whether they are looking for information on company websites, phoning the call centre or asking questions via email, social media or chat, only between 14% and 16% say they are ‘generally happy’ with the information they find or are given.

Three quarters (75%) of consumers complain that customer service agents don’t have access to the information required respond to their questions, while 70% say they get inconsistent answers across different channels.

Part of the problem is the growing number of channels and the rising volume of queries which makes the job even harder for brands.  On top of this customers’ expectations are on the rise. Nearly two thirds (65%) admit they generally now want answers to more detailed questions than they did five years ago. And they’re less willing to wait, with an overwhelming 91% becoming frustrated if answers aren’t available quickly on the web. Most people (90%) say that if they are online, they want to access the right information without leaving the page they are on. And this unforgiving sense of impatience is present across every channel.

Those brands who get it right can expect to be rewarded for their effort. 94% of customers acknowledge that when they do get consistent answers it makes them more loyal – which means more repeat purchases. But when they don’t get an answer 91% of people say it annoys them – with 84% likely to move to a rival supplier.

Delving deeper into the data and the research reveals that most consumers would take one or more of five actions if they don’t receive or find the answer to their question:

1.     22% of consumers across all channels said that they would switch to a rival, costing the brand immediate and future revenues. In many cases the brand would have no idea why the customer has gone elsewhere.
2.     23% said they would repeat their question on the same channel, which adds to the volume of queries and pushes up costs.
3.     30% would switch to more expensive channels to get the information they need, particularly those that involve agents (such as email and the phone)
4.     Only 14% said they’d continue on their online journey, but even they added that their view of the company would be damaged
5.     16% would complain to the company, with 6% complaining on social media, again damaging brand reputation and potentially future revenue.

How can brands fix this issue?
Effective knowledge management – which is the key to ensuring customers are able to access the information they are looking for - supports faster, more accurate and efficient service.

Eptica’s research suggests this drives increased loyalty, repeat purchases and sales. As well as improving customer engagement by ensuring that customer conversations deliver the information, understanding and empathy that is required, empowering employees with good knowledge management systems that allow them to provide fast accurate answers also improves staff motivation and productivity.

However, many organisations are not yet taking a holistic view of knowledge or incorporating new technology to transform how they communicate with consumers. When combined with artificial intelligence and Natural Language Processing (NLP), centralised knowledge supports the introduction of chatbots, underpins self-service on websites and empowers agents when responding to consumers.

Looking ahead, it will be those brands that put knowledge at the heart of their business that will flourish. In the long run if you want to beat the competition you must embrace best practice in knowledge management – including finding ways to maximise the benefits of AI.

To download the full 2018 Eptica Knowledge Study report, which was based on interviews with 1,000 consumers click here.

Replies (1)

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By Siddharth Sharma
19th May 2018 10:56

With all the talk about AI and chatbots, it won’t be surprising to see minimal human intervention in customer-company relationships. In fact, a Gartner research claims that by the year 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be without any human intervention from the company’s side. So how exactly will companies stay in touch with customers? Well, primarily via emails and chatbots. If you haven’t paid much attention to email support services earlier, it’s time giving it the requisite consideration. Startups, small businesses & industry giants have something in common. Better allocation of resources! Here’s how they do it for email support services

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