While today marks the beginning of National Customer Service Week, research reveals that many customer-facing staff are frustrated with the level of customer service they are able to provide, scuppered by a combination of poor tools and processes that they believe is subsequently harming the customer experience.
The most common pain points include having to pass customers between teams and departments (43%), having to manually enter the same information in multiple locations (32%) and having to prompt customers for information they’ve already supplied on another channel (24%).
One of the chief culprits for these problems is the technology, according to the research, with over a quarter (27%) of customer-facing employees saying they do not have the right technology to provide optimal service.
But the study, which polled 7,000 individuals across the US, UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Japan and Australia, also found that agents believe assistance could come in the unlikely shape of chatbots.
Contradicting reports that agents are concerned about the impact that AI could have on their jobs, those surveyed for the research were optimistic that the likes of chatbots could help them. While 15% expressed concern that such technology could be used to replace them, a huge 60% felt that it would complement their activities and help them work more effectively.
In fact, two-thirds believed chatbots would help speed up existing business processes by dealing with routine matters, thereby enabling them to focus on the more complex issues that require human intervention. A further 62% also said the software would make their job simpler.
These findings come amidst a backdrop of general overconfidence and under-delivery in customer service terms among the business community. While four out of five (81%) business leaders were convinced that their customer service differentiated them from rivals, customer perceptions failed to tally.
In reality, four times more business leaders, and twice as many employees, deemed the quality of customer service they typically provided as ‘excellent’ compared with customers on the receiving end of the experience. There was also a significant 24% gap between how well business leaders (87%) think they understand customers and their preferences and how their customers (63%) perceived the reality.
As to what customers biggest service frustrations were, meanwhile, the top three consisted of taking too long to receive help (82%), having to repeat themselves when switching between channels or agents (76%) as well as not knowing the status of their query (64%) – and this despite the fact that the quality of customer service has a direct impact on brand reputation.
In practice, a huge 89% of customers said that if their experience was poor, their impression of the brand concerned would suffer damage. But this figure compared with only 75% of business leaders and 78% of employees, indicating that both groups underestimate the harm that can be caused if customers’ needs are not met effectively.