Brands, take note: Customers still struggle to reach you

Social media isn't helping, one U.S. survey says

There's plenty of lip service paid today to the importance of customer service, but a new study suggests brands are failing miserably at delivering it. Social media, it turns out, isn't making things any better.

In any given year, more than 80 percent of consumers try to reach a brand, and for most of them, it's an exercise in frustration, according to new data from The Northridge Group. Fifty-five percent say they need to use two or more communication channels to contact a company or brand before an issue is resolved. In general, 44 percent of consumers say companies don't make it easy to contact them.

As for social media, 77 percent of consumers say they use social channels to contact companies at least as much as they did a year ago, but one in five never even get a response, Northridge found.

For its State of Customer Service Experience 2016 report, released Tuesday, the consultancy surveyed more than 1,000 people in the U.S.

// //

There's also a generational factor at work, the data suggest. While roughly a fifth of Baby Boomers will try another communications channel within 60 minutes if their issue is not adequately addressed, millennials are even more likely to do it: a full 40 percent of them will jump to another channel in that situation.

Northridge attributes that difference to the rise of mobile and digital technologies, resulting in a lower tolerance for delays among younger consumers.

“When it comes to interacting with customer service departments, today’s time-starved consumers want easy,” says Pam Plyler, executive practice lead for customer experience at Northridge. “The unfortunate reality is that as consumers attempt to make contact with brands, it is anything but easy. Their experiences are often highly fragmented, inconsistent, labor intensive and lacking personalization."

Of course, as a management consulting firm that specializes in customer experience and business transformation, Northridge has an interest in telling companies they need help in this area. But similar observations are not difficult to find.

"This is all true," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group and author of several related books. "It's hard to contact companies, and not just conventional companies."

Many startups that operate on a cloud model "try to channel customers only into their sales funnel and only through their websites," Pombriant said. "The result is frustration when you want service and not to make another purchase."

A company's objective should not be to resolve problems on the first call, but rather to eliminate those calls altogether, he said. "You get that when you map your processes and then seek to eliminate bottlenecks using analytics and metrics."

When problems do arise, responses had better be quick.

"All customers, but especially the millennials, have been trained by subscription companies to be impatient and to expect rapid responses, because subscription companies are geared to being more responsive," Pombriant said. "Whether you're a traditional company of a subscription company, that's the reality you deal with."

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags market researchcustomer engagementcustomer experience management

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?