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Using 2022 to reconnect the customer experience

1st Dec 2021
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Customer service and customer experience (CX) technology are rising up the agenda. Logic tells us that as the CX tech stack develops and matures, the quality and success of customer service should be improving along with it.

Yet, the reality is that delivering exceptional support continues to become even more frustrating, tedious, and expensive for agents and companies alike. The outlook for the consumer isn’t much better, with some consumers reporting service experiences that are often cold and impersonal.

How would we know? Well, we recently surveyed 3,000 consumers and 1,500 service agents, across the UK and US, to get a temperature check on how they view the customer service journey, where brands are going wrong and what needs fixing as we enter a new year. Here’s what we found.

Getting CX right still brings clear benefits…

Amongst some brands, there has been a long-held belief that customer service is a cost centre, as opposed to a value-add to their business. Fortunately, this misconception is starting to weaken, and our survey shows just how important getting CX right really is. 

Well over three quarters (83%) of consumers we surveyed suggested that they’d spend more money with a company if they received better customer service. And giving good customer service isn’t just important for building customer loyalty – it’s also key to growing your customer base, with almost half (47%) of consumers stating that they would recommend a company to a friend after a positive customer service experience.

Perhaps even more significant to note is how damaging negative CX can be for a business – 95% of consumers would spread the word about a bad experience. Negative experiences can be instantly shared online and amplified on social media, highlighting the importance of ensuring your CX process is as seamless and frustration-free as possible for your customers.

…but good CX is still the outlier, not the norm

While the tangible business benefits are clear, brands are still failing to provide the experience consumers are now expecting and demanding. The majority of consumers (66%) we spoke to say brands are still not getting customer service right, while a further 63% feel constantly frustrated when interacting with customer service agents.

Consumers’ top frustration when interacting with brands is being passed through to multiple service agents (59%), but they also reported frustrations with having to repeat details of the issue they are in contact about (53%) and long hold times (40%). Further, 67% of consumers estimate they spend more than 10 minutes on average on a customer call, with 1 in 3 (33%) consumers spending over 20 minutes speaking to service agents.

The cumulative result of these frustrations is that, after just one poor experience, 92% would stop shopping with that brand.  

Has Covid-19 has widened the gap?

It’s clear that consumer expectations and demands are changing, but brands are largely failing to meet them head-on. As we move into a new year, businesses also risk falling further behind as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to act as a strong force of change in how consumers view CX.

Whether we like it or not, the pandemic has driven us online, with significant implications for consumer expectations of customer service. Almost two thirds (61%) of consumers we spoke to have had their expectations of CX increase since the onset of the pandemic, with 34% now expecting better support across digital channels.

A further 25% of consumers want a better balance between human interaction and digital tech solutions, while 22% now expect issues to be resolved faster, highlighting the lasting impact the pandemic has had on consumer demands.

2022 priorities: reconnecting CX

As the delivery of exceptional customer support continues to be the outlier as opposed to the norm, there’s clearly a disconnect between brands and their customers – but how can we address this?

A key learning that came out of our survey was the need for brands to place greater attention on getting the agent experience (AX) right. Agents are faced with countless inquiries every day, and expecting them to dig through folders and rely on Google to find the answers simply doesn’t

cut it anymore. However, with 59% of service agents feeling they lack the knowledge to provide a better service, and 29% still Googling answers to customer problems, it’s no wonder stellar CX is still the outlier as opposed to the norm.

But getting AX right needn’t be complicated. For example, by implementing a centralised knowledge base, you can help your agents save precious time and make quick and easy answer-finding part of the day-to-day routine. And if you really want to up your game, choosing a knowledge base solution

powered by machine learning will not only encourage accuracy through prompting agents to update knowledge articles as they go but will also act as a virtual assistant of sorts, suggesting answers based on keywords in customer questions.

CX is becoming a clear business differentiator and value-add, but brands are still struggling to nail it down. As they hash out priorities for 2022, reconnecting the customer experience, recognising the changing demands of consumers, and placing agents at the centre must be brought to the fore.

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