According to a new survey from KANA, today’s ultra-empowered shoppers have a very low tolerance for poor customer service, and crave a more intimate relationship where retailers know their needs, wants and preferences, and respect their time and business.
When asked about their preferred customer service communication channels used to engage with retailers in the past six months, the channel named most often as most preferred was Web (24.5 percent), followed by email (17.9 percent). Channels cited most often as least preferred were video chat (named by 30.2 percent of respondents); phone was the next least preferred channel, named by 22.6 percent of respondents.
“It’s no surprise that organizations are leveraging Web self-service and email more and more as our survey shows consumers prefer these channels," said Scott Hays, senior director, product marketing for KANA, in a statement. "We not only see Web and email infused with strong knowledge management, we have also observed that Web self-service addresses a new way that consumers are engaging with brands in a multimodal fashion. Customers often use multiple channels at once – e.g., speaking to an agent while browsing the company's Web site and expecting near-immediate confirmations by email. The challenge now for organizations is to weave those experiences together in real time to provide optimal engagement with the customer.”
Survey results indicate customer service in the retail space is a winner-take-all game, as an overwhelming amount of consumers indicated they would be highly motivated to jump ship to a competitor following a poor or disappointing customer service.
Respondents indicated they were most likely to discontinue doing business with a retailer following a poor or disappointing customer experience in the following sectors: automotive (58.5 percent rating an 8, 9 or 10); furniture and furnishings (56.6 percent rating an 8, 9 or 10); and consumer electronics/telecommunications (50 percent rating an 8, 9 or 10). Not surprisingly, these sectors featured products that were more expensive, where customer service expectations are generally greater.
The sector that was perceived to be best-in-class in customer service was apparel and accessories, with 54.9 percent of respondents giving a rating of 8, 9 or 10. Those sectors perceived to be least customer service oriented were consumer electronics/telecommunications (28.3 percent rating a 5 or lower) and automotive (18.9 percent rating a 5 or lower).
“To create great customer experiences there needs to be a partnership between marketing and customer service throughout the customer journey,” said Hays. "All of the above responses point to the need for a higher level of sensitivity and personalization for each customer. As retailers try to differentiate themselves with a superior customer experience, it's critical to support marketing efforts with excellent customer service. Likewise, to maximize revenue per customer, organizations must seek out marketing and sales opportunities within existing customer service interactions. All of that must be finessed by very adept use of context about customers.”