Forrester Technographics Data Points To Increased Communication Channel Usage With Inconsistent Satisfaction Ratings

The most recent data cuts from Forrester’s North American Technographics® Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2010 of how more than 3,400 consumers interacted with customer service organizations in the last 12 months highlight some interesting trends:

  • For the first time, web self-service topped the phone channel as the communication channel most widely used by customers to interact with customer service organizations.
  • Consumers use the phone channel 50% of the time. However, other channels are more widely used than the voice channel: 58% of the time, consumers search for an answer on the Web; 61% of the time they send an email to customer service; and 66% of the time they search a company’s FAQ.
  • Social channels are used for customer service, but numbers are very low (1% of customers used Twitter, but 6% of customers used forums).
  • Live-assist communication channels (phone, chat, cobrowse) have much higher satisfaction ratings than asynchronous electronic channels (email, web self-service). Satisfaction ratings are:  phone (74%), chat (69%), cobrowse (78%), email (54%), and web self-service (47%).

What does all this data mean?

  • Today, customers are starting their customer service journey by searching for information contained on web self-service sites. This means that your corporate knowledge management strategy is critcal to the delivery of  quality answers to your customers to keep them happy and loyal to your brand.
  • Customers are using more channels, not fewer ones. Traditional channels like voice and email are still widely used. However, more customers today are using a mix of channels to find answers to their questions. This means that you need to pay attention to your cross-channel experience. Make sure that the experience — the data, content, and business processes that agents follow across the communication channels that you support — are consistent. Make sure as well that customers can start a conversation on one channel and continue it on another.
  • Customers do not get the same experience across all channels. Live-assist channels do better than others because customers still want service in real time and trust channels that are staffed by real people interacting with them in real time. For the asynchronous channels (like email or SMS), make sure that you set customer expectations appropriately as to when they will receive an answer to their question, and make sure that you meet your SLAs so that they are able to trust these channels.
  • Customers are using social channels for customer service, but Twitter volumes remain low. This means that offering customer service across the social channels is not for everyone. Understand the needs of your customer base, and offer the social channels that resonate with them. Start by listening to the sentiments expressed by your customer base over the social channels first, and roll out your social channels in a methodical and value-added way.

Comments

Nice Data, a question or two

Kate,

Good stuff, it is nice to have the data to work with and explain some of the behaviors. Looking at the data another way, I would like your perspective. Also published from Forrester, regards to complaints:

"74% of consumers who got poor service in 2010 provided feedback directly to the company through at least one of four private methods (survey, phone call, email, or letter)." Which is interesting, but it is this next stat that is most interesting:

"In 2009, only 16% of consumers who had unsatisfactory service interactions shared their experiences through any of the social methods we asked about. In 2010, that number grew to 24% — a 50% annual growth rate. Two individual methods saw even greater growth: posting an update to a social networking site and tweeting."

While Social Networks are not the first place people go to try and find help - it does seem like the place to go when things do not work out as expected and many end up there. What are your thoughts here? Do you see your clients able to integrate the post experience 'rant' back into the process and act on it?

Cheers,

Mitch

Agreed

Mitch- I would agree. Customers try to find information using traditional channels, and when those experiences do not deliver, they turn to the social channels as back-door entries into the contact center. And because social media technologies tend to be implemented in silos (and sometimes not even by customer service), the business processes (aka experience) is different over these channels, than say, over email or the phone.

Great Data!

Kate's blog on trends in multi-channel communications is so insightful! With so many channels for customers to select, the need to know what your customers are constantly thinking is critical to any company's success. Additionally, when customers do experience an issue using any channel of communication, frequently it will only be another person who can not only solve the issue, but make that potential one time human encounter with a customer the first step on the customer's retention journey. Richard Shapiro, The Center For Client Retention