The Relationship Revolution: From Multichannel Customer Service to Addressing the Table Stakes

    By Jim Freeze | Small Business

    It’s no secret that advancements in technology and the rise of social media have allowed consumers to make their voices heard in a way that brands are still struggling to fully address.  For better or worse, the relationship between customers and companies is forever changed.  Now, the customer holds the cards, choosing when, where and how they interact with brands.

    This “relationship revolution” is perhaps most apparent to those of us in business functions most concerned with the customer experience, from marketing to customer care. But addressing this paradigm shift in a positive way that delivers consistent company-customer interactions across channels and throughout every engagement is something that has an impact across the entire enterprise.

    The results of a new Aspect survey compiled by TNS sheds light on consumer sentiments about customer service in the midst of this revolution.

    Customers affirm value of multichannel customer service

    As the number of channels available to interact with a brand continues to increase, customers have vigorously embraced each of them.  And there is good news for companies that have kept up with this –77 percent of consumers think companies that offer multiple channels, including phone, email, chat and social media, as part of their customer service are easier to do business with and 74 percent say they provide better service.  Perhaps that’s because 67 percent agree they feel more in control of their relationship with a company when it offers multiple channels for customer service.

    Social customer care gap persists

    There is a clear gap that exists between consumer expectations and companies’ use of social media for customer care. In fact, 42 percent of consumers agree that they’d rather have companies use social media for good customer service than to promote their products.  Yet, only 1 percent feel social media provides the best customer experience. And, of those who have sought help on social channels, only 7 percent say that these channels provide the fastest resolution and the best customer experience.

    While this gap is likely an indication that most companies have not started to embrace social media as a preferred channel for customer care, there is something else for brands to consider.  Customers demand timely, informed and empowered responses and aren’t afraid to air their grievances in the most public of forums. In an effort to quickly get their service issue resolved while interacting with customer care, 16 percent of consumers admit that they have threatened to share their experience with others or broadcast their frustration through social media (9 percent).

    Addressing the table stakes

    Consumers are demanding more from brands but the standard frustrations with customer service persist. Companies seem to still be failing to quell some of consumers’ largest gripes like being directed to an automated response (67 percent) and having to repeat themselves (65 percent). This could be in part why 64 percent agree they do not feel they are treated like valued customers when they interact with customer service.

    As the contact center is emerging as the new center of the customer experience, companies must begin addressing these table stakes as well as moving toward the gold standard multi-channel experience, where interactions can begin in one channel and seamlessly move to another.  Companies must be prepared to join the revolution, adapt and respond to today’s customers, and meet their demands or risk losing them forever.

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