Not all customer service channels are created equal, according to the latest research from Northridge Group consulting firm.
While customer service providers continue to experiment with new digital service options, research shows that phone remains customers’ most popular pick for resolving critical service issues.
- 57% of consumers addressed their services issues via phone
- Billing and payment issues and problem resolution were the top reasons to call
Northridge gives us the following insight based on its May 2018 report:
“Customers will use all channels and make decisions on which to use based on the type of issue, urgency, complexity and ease of use. Companies need to understand the specific reasons customers use each channel and focus on quick and easy resolution.”
One Size Doesn't Fit All
Customer service providers need to understand call volume – segmented by service issue – and staff channels accordingly. Not all consumers require a phone call, and not all consumers desire digital options.
Also, consider that customer preferences vary by demographics. It’s been a while since we had a mass group of consumers sharing the same preferences and behavior. A recent Northridge study found that the Millennial generation is the only group to prefer digital contact (44%) over phone (34%). Embracing digital channels declined with age, with seniors showing a higher preference for email than other cohorts.
What's Our Takeaway?
We can’t look at markets as singular blocks of customers anymore.
We need to understand:
- Who buys our products and services
- Their life stage
- The potential reasons for contacting customer service
Our objective must be to deliver service to each customer via the preferred channel rather than overdeveloping new channels that may not deliver any satisfaction (or worse, backfire).
The future of customer service requires us to take a close look at emerging technology and how AI can play an efficient role. However, we need to consider more than only cost savings and the allure of new tech.
To maintain premier customer service, base your decisions on strategy and customer composition. If you’re looking to outsource your customer service, look into providers that offer flexibility. Suppliers should work with you to identify the optimal channel mix and be responsive to your customers first and to technology second.
I’d love to hear any other best practices, questions or devil’s advocate arguments surrounding this topic. Please post in the comments below.