And our biggest issue with customer service is…

4th Aug 2015

Drumroll please. The biggest customer service bugbear in the US, according to Consumer Reports, is…not being able to speak to a real person when we’ve got a problem that needs resolving.

75% of us are “highly annoyed” by the growing trend of self-service as a mode of escalation in customer service departments, the Consumer Reports National Research Center states, while 74% find having disconnected phone calls placed to customer service lines a major issue too.

The report also adds that customer satisfaction with service is “no higher than it was in the 1970s”, based on research from Arizona State University, and that the latest version of the school’s “customer rage” study found that “companies are doing all the right things but in all the wrong ways” – supplying self-service as opposed to real people at critical points in a customer query is just one of them.

“Many companies today are simply awful at resolving customer problems,” Scott Broetzmann, president of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, told Consumer Reports.

“Customers spend valuable time and invest considerable effort—and get little in return.”

Consumer Reports’ stats mirror those from CorvisaCloud last year, which surveyed 1,200 consumers across the pond to find that 80% of respondents were ‘vexed’ by calls that involved ‘robotic’ call centre agents, with reading from scripts rated the biggest bugbear. 

In addition, hold times continue to drive customers crazy – 32% of customers stated they hang up after waiting five minutes on a call, while repeating information was also stated as an area for improvement for 18% of respondents.

The issue of where and when to implement self-service tools and when to escalate to support staff is a long standing one. “Online tools such as virtual agents, help guides, forums and even social channels such as Twitter, reduce demand on their more expensive contact centres,” Tim Deluca-Smith, global head of marketing, WDS explained, in an article on earlier in the year.

“However, many self-service technologies simply aren’t the silver bullet that many perceive them to be, at least not until businesses start to realise that their care operations can’t live in silos.

“What many don’t realise is that a large percentage of customers find self-service tools frustrating. In fact, having tried and failed to resolve an issue through a self-service tool, many customers find themselves having to call the contact centre.

“This is known as “fall-back” traffic. It can account for up to 20% of call volume coming into a contact centre and up to 10% of the total care budget. Factor in the poor customer experience and the return on investment for many self-service deployments starts to fall away fast.”


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By PaulineAshenden
07th Aug 2015 10:03

As you say Chris, self-service can only do so much. Where it works well is providing answers to routine questions online, meaning that consumers don’t have to call or email. However, self-service has to be integrated within a multichannel strategy, with clear escalation points for when consumers want to speak to a real person – and agents should have the full history of the interaction to date to avoid the customer having to repeat themselves. More on how to successfully integrate self-service in this blog post


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