More than half of consumers feel like service is an afterthought according to the Annual Zendesk Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report.
Zendesk’s annual research report has highlighted the disconnect between Australian business leaders and their support agents on the level of customer service they provide.
Critically, customers have echoed this same sentiment.
The global Zendesk CX Trends Report 2022, identified that 67 per cent of Australian business leaders give themselves high marks for their customer service.
However, only 16 per cent of agents feel satisfied with the quality of training they receive.
Customers are noticing too, with half believing that businesses need to improve agent training.
“Businesses cannot afford to take a transactional approach to their relationships with customers,” said Adrian McDermott, CTO, Zendesk.
“This year’s report reveals gaps exist between expectation and delivery,” he continued.
“Customers are noticing this gap and voting with their business.”
On this sentiment, Wendy Johnstone, chief operating officer, APAC, Zendesk, said, “It’s a challenging time for Australian businesses, with the need to keep adapting to their customers’ ever-evolving needs.”
“To remain competitive, leaders must focus on customer experience as a priority by investing.”
As customers call out increased expectations and the readiness to switch after just one bad experience, the need to close the gap between these expectations and the customer experience delivered have never been more urgent.
The opportunity cost for many is nothing short of revenue loss and missed opportunities for growth.
Consistent Truths – Customer Service Can Drive Growth
77 per cent of Australian respondents see a direct link between customer service and business performance, with 66 per cent estimating that customer service has a positive impact on business growth.
The opportunity is not simply to deliver a single solution-based interaction with the consumer.
Instead, it is to use that point of engagement as an opportunity to deepen relationships.
It was also reported that customer engagement was up 13 per cent from the previous year.
This represents more opportunities to upsell or cross-sell to happy customers.
However, this cuts both ways, the insights reveal that customer expectations can drive or stifle growth plans.
As customers spend more online, 44 per cent of them say that their service expectations have increased this past year.
Channels play a big part in meeting these increased expectations and particularly, being where the customer is.
Despite this, Australian businesses are not investing enough to support their CX teams to drive growth.
Only 50 per cent have a strategic plan for CX over the next three years.
The Agent X Factor
Increased expectations lead to increased pressure on agents, who act as the front line.
Though when it comes to resolving issues, almost half of the customers surveyed across APAC are looking for agents who are helpful and empathetic.
Customers will parlay this goodwill in a positive experience to being open to recommendations from service agents.
But, many businesses have yet to recalibrate their view of customer service as a cost centre.
This has meant that investments in optimising the function have not kept pace with growth, let alone with increasing customer expectations.
It’s evident that a majority of businesses acknowledge customer service agents as being pivotal to driving sales.
Yet, a very small number of those same agents are extremely satisfied with their workloads.
Subsequently, Zendesk has recognised Agent empowerment as a clear focus area for 2022.
Zendesk prescribes better performance metrics, advancement opportunities and fundamentally more respect.
Closing Gaps And Mapping Paths To Growth
68 per cent of Australian business leaders say that their organisation views customer service as a critical business priority.
Although 45 per cent report that it’s still not owned by the C-suite.
While insights indicate a business case for investment in customer experience, this isn’t necessarily being followed through with executive sponsorship.
The right tools or programs such as training for agents or investment in artificial intelligence (AI) are also being overlooked.
With regards to AI, Australia is falling behind other APAC countries in terms of its adoption.
Only a quarter of businesses have allocated at least 25 per cent of their CX tech budgets to AI.
Moreover, more than half have been ad-hoc in their AI implementation.
Johnstone states, “AI can accelerate business transformation and improve CX, but businesses must help close the confidence gap in Australia.”
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