Insight: Despite investment, customer experience is getting worse

Customer experience has worsened over the last two years despite investments in new engagement channels, according to new research from Bold Chat.

The report, from Bold Chat, surveyed hundreds of contact center managers and consumers globally, found that the consumers surveyed believe it takes 6 different interactions to resolve an issue while the surveyed contact center managers believe it takes only 1-2 touch points.

Key findings:

• 72 per cent of customers search for information online before calling a contact centre. And yet only 50 per cent of contact centres are tracking this digital behaviour.

• 82 per cent of customers surveyed have stopped doing business with a brand following a bad experience. A bad experience could be anything from long hold times to unresolved issues tor difficulties using products and services

• The percentage of customers using mobile applications for support has increased from 64 per cent in 2014 to 83 per cent in 2016. The percentage of customer using mobile websites for customer service has increased from 57 per cent to 64 per cent in the same period.

• When asked which channel they would choose to resolve various support issues if they could get a resolution at the first attempt, 78 per cent of customers selected a channel other than voice

• 50 per cent of customers are still frustrated with automated response systems, and 43 per cent are dissatisfied with the amount of time of time it takes to reach a representative. 40 per cent of customers turn to the web to find answers to their support inquiries.

• Customer service managers have stated outdated technology (48 per cent) and limited budgets to invest in technology (43 per cent) as the two biggest challenges they currently face in delivering great customer experiences

This disconnect can be largely due to the fact that 72 per cent of consumers surveyed search for information online before contacting an agent but the majority of contact centre managers surveyed (52 per cent) do not track digital behaviour.

The increased disappointment with customer experience is threatening customer loyalty, sustainability and revenue growth as 82 per cent reported that they will stop doing business with a company following a bad experience.

The report also reveals that while 86 per cent of consumers reported using 5 or more channels for support, 43 per cent of consumers noted that they believe access to agents has worsened over the last two years with 50 per cent citing frustration with automated response systems.

While 68 per cent of participating consumers still believe that phone calls provide the most success for resolution, 78 per cent would choose a channel other than voice if they knew they could get a resolution on the first attempt. This supports the finding that 60 per cent of consumers reported wanting organizations to improve access to web support channels including social media, communities and live chat.

“The disparity between the perception of contact centers and the reality of consumers when it comes to customer experience is worrisome as every interaction is proving to be critical to customer retention,” said Ken Landoline, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement at Ovum. “Because customers will stop doing business with a company following a bad experience, it is critical that brands identify friction points in the customer journey and offer their reps the tools and technology to help improve the overall customer experience from pre-purchase through post-purchase support.”

Additionally, the report provides insights into how consumers prefer to engage with brands including:

• Increased adoption of live chat: The use of live chat has increased from 33 per cent in 2014 to 44 per cent today. Among the consumers interviewed, live chat ranked as the 3rd most popular way to resolve an issue and was viewed as the fastest way to get a response.

• Mobile dominates the customer experience: Today, more consumers call from the smartphone (58 per cent) than a landline. And they are using their mobile device for more than calls. 83 per cent of participating consumers reported using mobile applications for customer support and 64 p[er cent reported using mobile websites, up from 64 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively, since 2014.

• Consumers are open to new ways of support: 35% of participating consumers currently use IoT-connected products, or are willing to, if it results in better customer service.

“Today’s always-connected customer expects immediate access to information and fast, efficient and frictionless service,” said David Campbell, Vice President, Customer Engagement & Support Solutions, at LogMeIn. “Most contact centers struggle to meet these expectations because they are limited by disjointed, legacy systems. We see many forward-thinking businesses overcome these challenges by prioritizing investments in solutions that unify their engagement strategies across traditional and digital channels.”