Software company Pegasystems Inc. has announced the results of a new survey that reveals several service-based industries have not progressed beyond the fundamentals of customer service at a time when consumer expectations are reaching new heights.
The Australian survey of more than 1000 participants – a combination of consumers as well as business decision makers from customer service-centric industries, specifically banking and broadband – also sheds further light on the perception gap between how well businesses think they perform versus what their customers actually experience.
The Pegasystems report finds that while 82 per cent of service businesses believe they know their customers well, only one quarter of banking and one fifth of broadband consumers feel the same. Furthermore 96 per cent of organisations agree that customer experience is a critical or important differentiator, raising questions as to why they are not achieving the intimacy required to anticipate customer needs and personalise the customer journey.
Indeed 83 per cent of decision makers admitted their customer service initiatives over the last two years have primarily focused on ‘getting the basics right’ even as consumers now demand more advanced, personalised experiences.
“While service organisations in Australia have certainly come a long way to adapt to changing customer needs, this research indicates that more work still needs to be done to enhance the customer experience,” Pegasystems MD ANZ Scott Leader said.
“Technology has now progressed so far that the guesswork involved in creating the perfect customer experience has been removed. CRM can now not just track customers’ movements but also anticipate their needs, adapt as those needs change, and provide an exceptional experience every time. This is where the future of service industries lie, and organisations in this space should take heed.”
“Digital disruption has fundamentally changed the way in which people consume products and services, and interact with companies,” Pragmatic Thinking psychologist Alison Hill added.
“In a busy world, time is now the consumer’s most important currency. Every interaction that doesn’t respect this and costs consumers more time, such as them needing to tell their story again and again, undermines good customer service. Consumers are thirsty for companies who can pre-empt their needs and actually save them time.”
Key research highlights:
The need for speed
While 66 per cent of businesses believe their service representatives quickly respond to their customers every time, 66 percent (banking) and 77 per cent (broadband) of consumers disagree, indicating businesses must speed up response time to meet customer expectations.
Can you hear me now?
Consumers say that one of their top customer experience problems is with companies that fail to listen to their needs, despite the fact that businesses self-rank this capability as their top customer service attribute, indicating a major disconnect.Consumers also cited difficulty in getting a quick path to assistance and, organisations delivering just the bare minimum service, in their top customer service issues.
Who’s responsible for the customer experience?
The majority (73 percent) of Australian businesses surveyed believe the CEO is responsible for the customer experience, suggesting a worrying complacency amongst business stakeholders that customer experience is ‘not their job’, as opposed to being a company-wide issue.
Businesses Still Learning the Customer Service Ropes
Though a wide majority of businesses surveyed understand the importance of customer service to their brand, most are still focused on the basics while new innovative business models are gaining the attention of their customer base:
Still mastering Customer Service 101
Only 10 percent of service businesses have been working on developing omni-channel integration capabilities over the past two years, which underscores the point that most organisations are focused on mastering the basics at the expense of services that can help them better engage with customers in the future.
Digital disruption lurks in the background
The survey found businesses underestimate the threat from new, innovative providers as 80 percent believe the biggest competition still remains with other traditional providers within their existing market. Indeed, both banking (26 per cent) and broadband (33 per cent) customers have themselves indicated that they would consider switching to a new, innovative company over traditional organisations.
Analytics trends to the top of the tech agenda
Businesses that are investing in customer experience say that analytics (cited by 66 percent of respondents) ranks as the top technology priority, with social media (59 per cent), mobile (52 per cent), and marketing (51 per cent) also ranking highly. Interestingly, customers did not choose social media as a channel for excellent customer service, citing telephone as the best channel. This also indicates that service providers are moving to address one of the key concerns of customers by using analytics to provide better personalised services.
Who’s leading in Customer Service?
Restaurants best cater to customer needs
Consumers in Australia rank restaurants (43 per cent), hotels (40 per cent) and physical retail outlets (30 pe cent) as having the best customer service, while industries such as telecom (10 per cent), legal services (8 per cent) and utilities (5 per cent) lagged behind.
Brick and mortar provides better retail shopping experience
Traditional retail shops ranked third (30 per cent) while ecommerce sites (3 per cent) fell to the bottom of the list. This supports conclusions about shoppers’ preferences for face to face customer service over digital interaction.