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Why do firms continue to fail their customers with poor service?

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We’re hearing a lot about omni-channel in marketing, and there are very few people who think that’s a bad thing.

What is a bad thing, however, is if companies are failing to get the basics of the approach right – which may be the case according to a sobering piece of analysis from Ovum, which came out recently.

We have more problems achieving omni-channel success than we like to think. The study, based on interviews Ovum had with contact centre staff and their users, came to this conclusion: 

“Although businesses are fully aware of new behavioural trends among customers, not all of them are tailoring their customer engagement and customer service experience strategies to match customers’ needs.”

Businesses are failing customers

Let’s be more specific about what “not tailoring” means – which in plainer language, one might take as “failing”. 

So, 48 per cent of contact centre customers that the Ovum team surveyed said their ability to reach the right representative had worsened over the last two years – while 76 per cent stopped doing business with a brand, following a customer service experience.

It gets worse. Respondents said they were most frustrated with the time taken to reach a representative and the time taken to resolve an issue, while long hold times and inflexible automated service menus continue to frustrate customers who simply want a fast resolution to a problem.

Ovum thinks this gap explains why many are turning to the Web for support inquiries, with contact centres seeing almost 50 percent of interactions coming from channels other than voice. 

For Aphrodite Brinsmead, senior analyst at Ovum and author of the study, the implications are clear. “Customers are increasingly using digital channels for support, especially if they know they can get faster resolutions and response,” she says.

Brinsmead says it also indicates that businesses need to adapt their service tools to match customer needs and improve access to live agents – and that contact centres should invest in technology to understand cross-channel behaviour and link customers’ digital interactions with their profiles and case records.

It’s by optimising online support and guiding customers to the right channel for their issues, businesses will be able to improve resolution rates and customer satisfaction, she and the rest of her team are convinced.

Read more about getting customer service right:

Omni-channel: A must have

The brutal reality is that in this market, a retailer that is super-responsive, knows the customer’s history, wants to solve their problem, and then actually does – this is the retailer that will get their business. Omni-channel isn’t an option – it’s a must-have.

The good news is that getting there doesn’t mean a massive overhaul of processes or a huge investment in technology – often, it means sorting processes at the back end and a better way of working with customer data.

So don’t give in. As we make this journey to omni-channel engagement, surveys like this will keep being published. It’s just a reflection of the complexities and challenges of getting there.

But get there we must. As believe me, you really don’t want to be one of the 76 per cent who mysteriously lose customers, for reasons that aren’t quite clear – as that’s going to lead to some very tough times ahead in the Digital Shopping Age.

Mark Oppermann is development director at VoiceSage.

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