Companies Fall Short in Providing Omnichannel Customer Service

According to a new global report, 73 percent of consumers think that companies are paying more attention to generating sales across multiple channels than they are in delivering a consistent and seamless customer service experience across those same channels. Meanwhile, when consumers can’t get an answer or fast response elsewhere, they are falling back to phone support as their primary contact method.

The research report, “The Omnichannel Customer Service Gap,” was produced by Loudhouse, an independent research agency based in London, on behalf of cloud-based software provider. Zendesk. It is based on surveys of 7,000 online shoppers between the ages of 18-64 in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. One thousand shoppers were surveyed in each country. 

Omnichannel, in the report, is defined as the ability to have a consistent and ongoing purchase or customer service experience across all channels—such as email, phone, chat or in a store. In the survey, more than one-third (37 percent) of consumers said they increasingly expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative regardless of the channel they use, and another 47 percent expect to be able to return goods or purchases through a different channel than the one they purchased from. Despite those expectations, only 7 percent are extremely satisfied with the omnichannel experience for customer service.

“The customer journey doesn’t end at checkout,” said J.D. Peterson, vice president of marketing at Zendesk, in a statement. “Brands are failing to match their omnichannel efforts in sales with their customer service experiences. To meet the demands of today’s consumers, they need to create seamless customer service across every channel.”

Poor service across channels is leading consumers to turn to phone support as a failsafe. When an email is unanswered, 71 percent will then phone; when social media is unanswered, 55 percent will then phone; and if the phone is unanswered, 54 percent will try to call again. Because of their perception that the phone has the quickest response, 54 percent of consumers still use it as their first contact for support.

U.S. shoppers are the least likely than shoppers in any other country surveyed to use multiple channels for a purchase. Only 51 percent of Americans reported using multiple channels when making a purchase in the past six months, compared to the worldwide average of 67 percent. Brazilian consumers reported the highest levels of multiple channel usage at 86 percent.

A company’s rewards program and its reputation for good service matter more to U.S. consumer than shoppers in other countries. Seventy-one percent of U.S. shoppers believe being rewarded for purchases, feedback, and referrals are important, compared to the global average of 66 percent. Additionally, 84 percent of U.S. shoppers consider a company’s reputation for customer service as being important when choosing a vendor, compared to 78 percent of consumers worldwide.

Speed of service also falls short of expectations in the United States. While 88 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed cite the speed of response and resolution as important, only half of respondents believe that brands are “good” or “excellent” when it comes to speed of response (50 percent) and resolution (51 percent).