American Marketer


Omnichannel customer service fails to meet consumer expectations: study

December 2, 2013


Fifty-one percent of United States consumers consult multiple channels when making purchases, compared to a global average of 67 percent, according to a new study released by Zendesk.

“The Omnichannel Customer Service Gap” also found that U.S. consumers are more sensitive to the quality of customer service. Eighty-four percent of U.S. shoppers take a company’s customer service reputation into consideration when shopping, compared to 78 percent of consumers worldwide.

"Among the survey’s results, we wer­­­e surprised to find that despite the advent of social media, live chat and other new forms of customer support, the majority of consumers still believe the phone will yield the fastest resolution from a customer support agent, with 59 percent of respondents expecting a resolution in under 30 minutes," said JD Peterson, vice president of marketing at Zendesk, New York.

"Additionally, the report revealed that there is a large gap between the level of support customers expect to receive versus what companies are delivering, despite the fact that satisfied customers ultimately result in higher spend, improved customer loyalty and the cultivation of valuable brand ambassadors," he said.

The Omnichannel Customer Service Gap was produced by Loudhouse, a London-based research agency, on behalf of Zendesk, provider of cloud-based software for better customer service.

The study is based on surveys of 7,000 online shoppers between ages 18-64 in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan and Britain. One thousand shoppers were surveyed in each country.

Rooted in tradition

A dismal seven percent of overall respondents reported satisfaction with current omnichannel customer services. Seventy-three percent of respondents believe that brands hunt for sales across channels at the expense of integrated customer service.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents reported speed of response and resolution as the most important aspects of the customer service experience, while 82 percent claimed a friendly representative is most important.

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Surprisingly, 37 percent of respondents said they want to speak to the same customer service representative on every channel.

Forty-seven percent of consumers expect to be able to return items in a channel other than one in which the product was purchased.

Rescue tool

Phones are still regarded as the most reliable customer service channel, according to the report.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents expect resolution of an issue within 30 minutes via phone, while 52 percent believe that social media channels will yield results within a day.

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Seventy-one percent will turn to their phone for follow-ups when an email goes unanswered, and 55 percent of consumers will do the same when social media posts go unanswered. When phone calls go unanswered, 54 percent of consumers will simply call again.

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"Today's luxury shopper, like all consumers, expect the same level of service they receive in a high-end boutique to follow them onto the Web, email, chat and the phone," Mr. Peterson said. "Luxury retailers can't rest on their laurels.

"The customer experience doesn’t end when the register drawer closes," she said. "Retailers must take all channels of support seriously to create a lasting experience by providing quality support whenever and wherever customers are seeking it."

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York