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Organisations struggle to satisfy channel-hopping consumers - study

1st Mar 2012
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Businesses need to deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time if they are to provide an exceptional multichannel customer experience – but while internet retailers are leading the pack at achieving this, channel-hopping consumers are making it a challenge for most businesses.

That’s according to a new survey from eGain, which examines consumer buying behaviour, experience, and interaction channel preferences across customer lifecycle. The research polled 3,000 European consumers and revealed that, unsurprisingly, customers want the right message on the right channel at the right time.

According to the survey, despite consumers’ supposed revolt against SPAM, SPIT and SPIM, 61% of respondents would consider a promotional email offer for a complementary product, and 59% a loyalty reward offer sent through email. Additionally, 1 in 5 of those surveyed would consider a telephone offer for contract renewals, and half an emailed offer.  Benelux is the region least receptive to offers on complimentary services, said the report.

But this is a challenge for organisations as consumers increasingly like to channel-hop, showed the research. When seeking help, two in five consumers will begin a service interaction with phone or email, while only one in five will choose to help themselves via web self-service. According to the survey, German and UK consumers are twice more likely as those in Benelux and Scandinavia to make online self-help their entry point for customer service, whilst German consumers prefer email (38%) to the telephone (30%), contrasting to the rest of Europe where phone is their preferred channel.

The research also showed that when consumers add a second channel to that same interaction, for escalation or convenience, self-help becomes more popular with one in three consumers choosing online web self-service to seek assistance, while social media is cited as a preferred channel with one in 10 consumers.

Consumers still prefer to use email (48%) and phone (32%) as channels for complaints but a significant amount of consumers (17%) would use web chat or social media as their first choice channel to complain. According to eGain, when consumers add an additional channel to their complaint interaction, social media proves difficult to ignore, with over 13% choosing it as their preferred channel of choice.

Internet retailers emerged as the best sector at delivering multichannel customer experiences, when compared to telecoms, utilities, travel and leisure, and finance and manufacturing, said eGain. Internet retailers were rated as excellent in ‘first interaction’ (21%), ‘follow-up approach’ (16%), and ‘meeting expectations and engendering loyalty’ (19%). Utilities ranked the lowest customer experience rating.

Andrew Mennie, general manager, eGain EMEA said: “Today’s consumers are highly sophisticated and demand universally high service across interaction channels and the customer lifecycle. However, when expanding or extending a relationship, customer experience becomes even more influential. The survey shows that consumers are increasingly taking a ‘something for something’ approach with service expectations; expecting premium pricing and customer loyalty to warrant enhanced levels of customer service. Any winning business strategy should therefore include service as an important element. As the survey indicates, this approach can also help enhance profits and customer loyalty.”

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