Companies use omnichannel for sales not service, complain customers

8th Jan 2014

Omnichannel delivery has opened customers up to a variety of communication channels, increasing the connectivity between brand and consumer.

But while omnichannel delivery should see businesses providing a consistent and ongoing purchase or service experience across all channels such as email, phone, chat or in-store, this resulting improvement to customer service is being called out as a myth.

A new report titled ‘The Omnichannel Customer Service Gap’ has seen consumers complain that businesses are concentrating on using these channels to generate sales and that customer service hasn’t improved.

The global survey of 7,000 saw 73% of consumers raise these concerns.

As a result, consumers are beginning to reverse the social and technology trend and revert to phone support.

When an email is unanswered, 71% will then phone; when social media is unanswered, 55% will then phone; and if the phone is unanswered, 54% will try to call again because of their perception that the phone has the quickest response, says the report. 54% of consumers still use it as their first contact for support.

The subsequent effect on businesses could be that consumers start to see multi-channel comms as a potential sales ploy by default.

A return to heavier phone support network could also increase costs for businesses by requiring more physical contact centres and other expenses associated with heavier telecoms support.

The research was produced by Loudhouse, an independent research agency, on behalf of Zendesk, a provider of cloud-based software for customer service.

The survey also found that:

  • Over one third (37%) of consumers increasingly expect to talk to the same customer service representative
  • Almost half (47%) expect to be able to return goods through a different channel than the one they purchased through

However, the study questions how well brands are meeting these expectations, the report says: “The research makes it clear that brands are failing to match consumer expectations as 87% think they need to work harder to create a seamless customer experience.”

“The customer journey doesn’t end at checkout,” said J.D. Peterson, vice president of marketing at Zendesk. “Brands are failing to match their Omni-Channel efforts in sales with their customer service experiences. To meet the demands of today’s consumers, they need to create seamless customer service across every channel.”

Despite this, the report does go on to acknowledge some positive moves, such as Argos and eBay’s ‘click-to-collect’ scheme where Argos customers could purchase goods on eBay and pick up in store as a sign that major brands are already aware of the shortfall: “Such tie-ins, which are likely to become more commonplace, serve to illustrate the increasingly blurred lines between sales and customer services and the need for brands to rethink how they can ultimately best serve the customer.”

The report also points out the impact of good customer service, showing that three-quarters (75%) would use the company again if they received good service.

The full report, which can be viewed online also breaks down consumer attitudes towards customer service between different countries, including the US, UK, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia.

It found that US consumers were less like to use multiple channels for a purchase, while Brazilian consumers were most likely to.

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