“Operator,” “representative,” “human please!”
Customer service has come a long way in terms of available technology, but one thing remains constant: people still want service from humans! If anything, the technology we have today has helped to increase expectations from customers, particularly when it comes to getting answers or speed of service.
If you’ve ever either typed those opening words into a customer chat or spoken them to an automated phone system, you’re among a large group of people. The fact is that people are becoming more savvy about the technology being used to aid customer service, but they’re still looking for ways to speed up how they get help.
People want intelligent service and they want it now. Here’s what we know of customer service expectations in 2020:
Preferred communication method tends to depend upon the type of service request the customer has. For example, when West surveyed more than 500 US customers, they found the following:
A data round-up by HubSpot found that email was the most used digital channel for customer service with 54% using it. However the phone still rated highly, with 48% preferring to use it for customer service.
Channel preferences can vary in terms of the customer age group. One survey found millenials prefer live chat over any other channel. In an Interactions study, 67% of baby boomers preferred voice communication, however both baby boomers and millennials leaned toward whichever channel was going to be fast.
“Voice rules when it comes to speed. 94% of Americans agree that there are instances where voice is the preferred channel. And millennials are on board, 42% will engage with the fastest method of communication.”
However with that said, each generation expressed frustrations with voice communication. “60% of baby boomers are frustrated by long wait times and 57% get irritated at having to repeat themselves. Of course millennials as well have experience with these common frustrations. 45% and 36% of millennials feel frustrated with repetition and wait times, respectively.”
We wondered about chatbots seeing as they have become so common as a customer service tool - how do people really feel about them? As indicated previously in this section, we know millennials tend to like chat service; further studies find that in general, people trust them with basic inquiries too. However, Userlike find another interesting point - 59% of people they surveyed want chatbots to identify themselves as bots. No pretending to be human!
The speed with which a company responds to customer service requests is always under the microscope in terms of customer experience. Anecdotally, we’ve seen many reports from business owners who say a customer emailed them, then within minutes, posted a bad review when they hadn’t heard back immediately.
It seems that technology has also raised expectations in terms of how quickly companies respond to customer service requests, especially if the request is a complaint.
We wondered, what do customers really expect? That depends on the channel they have chosen to communicate through:
One thing we will note here is that the expectation you as a company set plays a role, especially in terms of letting customers know at the time of their contact with you. For example, you can set up email auto-responders so that the 21% of people who expect a response within one hour know that your policy is to respond within 24 hours on a business day. (Or, you could make that clear on any contact forms you have!)
A Salesforce study on customer service expectations found that 76% of respondents reported that it is now easier than ever to take their business elsewhere if they are not satisfied. This begs the question, what is it that frustrates customers these days?
From that same study, we can learn a few things (and honestly, they’re not that surprising!):
B2B expectations mirror those of consumers, as shown in the diagram below:
Based on the preferences that customers have shown and what they are telling researchers about perceptions of good service, here are a few metrics that companies should pay attention to:
Customer service expectations in 2020 seem to be more stringent than previously. Technology plays a role in this, with a growing expectation of things happening faster.
Despite this though, many of the things customers identify as frustrating are age-old. Customers want personalized service and to be treated with care. They don’t want to be bounced around or to repeat themselves. They also want a quick way to get to a human operator, which is important to remember when you have automated systems.
What matters most to you when it comes to customer service?