While good customer service outranks convenience and reputation when consumers are considering which companies to do business with, a report by Zendesk highlighted a global dip in overall customer satisfaction. According to Zendesk’s customer experience trends report, companies lack the capabilities needed to keep up with ever-increasing customer expectations. Over the past five years, customer satisfaction is down 2.2%, from 94.6% in 2013 to 92.5% in 2018.
Simultaneously, customer expectations continue to increase as nearly half of the respondents (46%) in the survey said that their expectations are higher than they were a year ago. Customers are also more likely to have interacted with companies in the travel, financial services, and retail.
Companies such as Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb are built on a new kind of customer experience, in return raising the stakes for the rest. The report added that these businesses stand out for its ability to simplify the purchasing experience, communicate directly with consumers with digital tools, and use data analytics to improve operations.
Sandie Overtveld, VP APAC, Zendesk said that local businesses in the last few years were lagging behind its global counterparts in terms of customer satisfaction, despite the relatively higher rate of technology adoption by Singaporean consumers.
“However, businesses here have started to understand the importance of a strong customer experience platform in driving business outcomes, and we can see that reflected in the uptick of customer satisfaction scores in Singapore,” she added.
Jeff Titterton, chief marketing officer at Zendesk said that the company is seeing a widening gap between what customers expect and what companies can deliver. “Whether you’re a 100-year-old financial services stalwart or a fast-growing consumer tech startup, your customers are comparing you to the best experiences they’ve ever had,” he added.
For companies struggling to deliver the expected experiences for its customers, here are some tips:
1. Invest in an open, flexible platform
The report said that nearly 70% of customers expect support teams to collaborate so it does not have to start over when contacting the same company through a different channel. This means companies need to manage customer data across all aspects of the customer experience and ensure a single record of the customer persists across channels, devices, and requests.
Pushing data in and out of support software using APIs, apps, and integrations can help businesses see a complete view of its customers. Companies using APIs resolve tickets 21% faster, and its customers spend 35% less time waiting for agents to respond, all while managing more than three times as many requests.
2. Meet customers where they are
The Zendesk report showed that 40% of customers prefer to use search or help centers before contacting support, yet only 20% of support teams provide self-service.
When customers do have to contact customer service, they want to be able to switch between channels and pick the one that best meets their needs. A whopping 85% of customers will use a different contact method if they do not get a response from their initial request, with 44% waiting less than an hour before doing so.
3. Lean in to proactive engagement
While 30% of support teams are currently using proactive engagement for sales and marketing, according to the report, there are key benefits often overlooked, including reducing customer effort, preventing issues with a product, and minimising support tickets for customer service agents. The vast majority of customers, nearly 90%, said they look more favorably on or are neutral about companies that reach out proactively.
4. Bet on AI
High performing businesses are twice as likely to use AI. Companies using AI powered features by Zendesk have saved 225,000 agent hours and given 2,800 years back to customers. These companies are resolving tickets 21% faster while handling six times the volume of requests. That said, 85% of enterprise companies are not yet using AI.