Retailers know they are dealing with customers who are increasingly demanding, and a recent survey by Arvato shows how high consumers’ expectations can be when it comes to customer service. A full 40% of consumers reported that they expect excellent customer service all the time, but almost half (47%) perceived that they receive excellent service only occasionally, or never.
Online retailers significantly outperformed on those metrics compared to other industries. Only 35% felt e-Commerce companies only occasionally or never provide excellent service.
The Customer Service Wish List
Survey respondents provided guidance as to where retailers seeking to improve their customer service should concentrate their efforts:
- Increase availability: 43% of consumers expect 24/7 customer service from e-Commerce/online retailers, and 36% expect customer service to be available for approximately 12 hours a day/7 days a week, e.g. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Offer multiple contact options: E-Commerce customers like to make their first contact with customer service by email (33%) or phone (32%). Online chat is a distant third, preferred by 15%.
- Staff phone lines: When asked which method of solving customer service issues is most reliable, consumers overwhelmingly (52%) chose the phone; email was selected by 13% and online chat by 11%.
- Shorten the wait: Over one-third (34%) of consumers say their biggest pain point is long hold times. To help alleviate that problem, 31% of consumers would like more companies to offer automatic call-backs.
- Invest in training: Once they finally reach a person, consumers are often frustrated by multiple handoffs and poor communication skills, with 31% saying their biggest pain point is repeating information and/or re-explaining to representatives, and 19% citing difficulty communicating with representatives because of a language barrier.
- Deploy technology: After automatic call-backs, 28% would welcome real-time order updates via text or email, and 22% would like to see more virtual assistants.
The study also affirmed that the consumer’s experience with customer service is integral to his or her overall perception of a retailer. Survey respondents ranked customer service’s impact on brand loyalty at 7.8 on a scale of one to 10.