Research company Verint Systems today released the results of a global study it commissioned that highlights the rapidly evolving service expectations of consumers. The study provides new insights into what criteria customers find important and the ways in which businesses can respond.
The research — spanning nine countries — was conducted in partnership with analyst and consultancy firm Ovum and UK-based research company Opinium. The survey explores the importance of quick, easy and personalised service in securing customer trust. It also uncovers surprising divisions over attitudes on how personal data is used to deliver this service.
Globally, the research found that while almost nine in 10 respondents (89 per cent) agreed good service makes them feel more positive about the brands they engage with, nearly half (48 per cent) also said they are suspicious about how their data is used. Only one-fifth of respondents said they wanted companies to understand their mood and cater to them accordingly. However, 43 per cent admitted that when companies make mistakes, they are more forgiving to those they believe understand them.
Key findings from Australian respondents include:
· Nearly three in five (59 per cent) are more likely to tell friends and family if they receive good customer service, while almost one-third (30 per cent) will leave a positive review, and 27 per cent will sign up to a business’s loyalty program.
· When asked about the top drivers of loyalty, one in five (21 per cent) of Australian respondents cited when they feel companies consistently show they understand their needs as an individual. This is in addition to the 20 per cent who said loyalty comes down to loving a company’s products or services. Interestingly, just 18 percent said their decision is based on a company offering low prices.
· The survey found 58 per cent regard customer service as a transaction, while 42 per cent said the service should reflect them as a person.
· Just over half (51 per cent) of Australian consumers appreciate it when service is personalised to them while just under half (49 per cent) are suspicious of how their data is used.
· Australian consumers want companies to know their mood and respond accordingly (18 per cent). Interestingly, however, is that 82 per cent are more concerned about getting answers to their questions.
“This study is a wake-up call for brands looking to revamp their customer service to cater to today’s more demanding and better-informed customers,” says Jeremy Cox, principal analyst, customer engagement, Ovum. “While brands have the ability to precision-target highly personalised communications for every single customer, the study shows what people around the world actually value most are the basics—questions answered with minimal effort on their part.”
Adds Cox, “Brands, therefore, have a fine balance to strike between the customised and impersonal service they deliver. Customers expect to be recognised, but will have adverse reactions if they feel stalked.”
The study also explored the factors that cause customers to switch between service providers. Among Australian respondents, 33 per cent nominated finding a cheaper alternative, while 19 per cent said too many mistakes or impolite staff would cause them move on.
When it comes to banks, customer service clearly plays a more important role with a quarter (23 per cent) of those surveyed saying too many mistakes could cause them to shift. For retail stores, the key factor for changing is impolite, rude or disinterested staff (27 per cent).
“The new rule book of customer service has less to do with personalisation at all costs, and everything to do with making life easier for people,” comments Michael Stelzer, vice president, Australia and New Zealand for Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions.
“On the whole, consumers do not have a lot of patience with firms that don’t get the basics right. This is a challenge for providers and an opportunity to help ensure frontline staff have information at their fingertips to deliver a quick and seamless service relevant to each customer’s individual needs. Staff should be empowered to make decisions and ‘go the extra mile’.”