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Customer support centres are falling behind on digital

The internet has not only changed the way customers discover brands and buy goods; digitally-savvy customers today also expect more from brands when they have a problem with their purchase. But according to a recent global survey of contact centre managers and consumers by Ovum, customer support centres are providing a worse customer experience compared to two years ago.

The survey results show that many customer support centres aren’t even aware of their poor performance. For instance, while consumers say it takes six different interactions to resolve an issue, contact centre managers believe it takes only one to two touch points. This is likely due to the fact that while 72 per cent of consumers search for information online before contacting customer support, 52 per cent of managers don’t track customers’ digital behaviour.

The report also makes clear that retailers can’t afford to ignore the support centre in their efforts to improve customer engagement. In Australia and New Zealand, 90 per cent of the survey’s consumer respondents said they would stop doing business with a company after a bad experience with the contact centre.

“Customers are not tolerating it if it’s not the customer service they want,” Daniel Cran, managing director of APAC at LogMeIn, told Internet Retailing. (LogMeIn, which provides customer engagement solutions, collaborated with Ovum on the report.)

“One of the key things to come out of the report is that customers have lost patience in waiting for things to be done properly. They want to be connected to the right agent [who can resolve their issue] and quickly.”

To do so, some communication channels are more effective than others: 67 per cent of consumer survey respondents said phone calls provide the most success for first-contact resolution, followed by 37 per cent for email and 18 per cent per cent for live chat. None of the survey respondents believe social media has been a successful resolution channel.

“We’re seeing that social media, which a lot of people thought would be the great messiah in delivering customer engagement on support issues, isn’t really cutting it. Phone, email and live chat are proving to be more reliable in providing customer support and successful issue resolution,” Cran said.

At the same time, Cran acknowledges there is pressure on brands to provide support via social media, which is seen, theoretically at least, as a more direct and easier way for customers to communicate with brands.

“Yes, there is a perception that [brands] should be active on social, but is that what customers really want? There’s a tension between what we think our customers want and what they actually want,” he said.

“It’s not to say [social media] isn’t the right [channel] for customer support, but you have to get it right and more often than not, companies aren’t getting it right.”

Getting it right, according to Cran, means providing a seamless customer support experience across channels. “Sixty per cent of consumers in ANZ use five or more channels to interact with the contact centre, so brands have to make sure the experience is seamless across multiple channels. That’s where customers are looking.”

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