We know that consumer preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and  demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my lastest report, and key data points from this report can be found in my latest blog post. Key takeaways are:

  • Consumers want to use more, rather than fewer communication channels for customer service.
  • Consumers are using a set of new channels were not statistically significantly used 3 years ago. For example: SMS, click to call, screen sharing, virtual agents
  • Online and digital communication channels are becoming increasingly utilized for customer service
  • Voice is still the most widely used channel, with a 73% utilization rate. This percentage has not changed in the last 3 years.

Our customer service survey data, based on an analysis of over 7000+ consumer inputs, also tell us that customers want quick, easy, effortless service, with 71% of survey respondents stating that  “Valuing my time is the most important thing a company can do to provide me with good customer service".

However, the satisfaction of customers with interactions on these channels often miss the mark.

  • Live assist interactions have high satisfaction ratings: Voice has the highest satisfaction rating (69%), which is closely followed by chat (63%). This is easily explained as once a customer is able to connect with an agent, the customer's question or interaction is most often fully addressed.
  • Web self-service interactions have lower satisfaction ratings (58%) and virtual agents have even lower ratings (55%). These ratings are not a reflection of technology, but rather the lack of attention around content maintenance. Even though mature content maintenance processes exist to keep content in-line with customer demand, most organizations have not had the discipline to adopt them. The result is content – answer to customer questions – that does not match customer expectations.
  • Newer communication channels such as Twitter have low ratings (56%). This because these channels do not have established business processes that are widely adopted.

What does this mean? Focus on deploying communication channels that your customers want to use, and that are consistent with your value proposition to your customers. When you add new channels to your mix, ensure that you follow maintenance best practices so that you can support your customers to the level that meets their expectations.