The proportion of businesses measuring customer effort as a marker of customer service effectiveness increased in 2020 from the previous year, climbing from 25% to 29%, according to a new report [download page] from The Northridge Group.
However, the survey of 250 US business leaders at large companies finds that this is not the top metric being used to indicate the success of customer service, with the largest portions (59%) measuring customer satisfaction and customer loyalty (56%).
As for customers themselves, 1,000 consumers surveyed for the report noted that their top negative customer service experience is waiting a long time to reach an agent (73%). Respondents and are also put off by trouble finding answers on the company website (69%) and difficulty navigating the phone system or unable to get a live person (67%).
Nonetheless, despite these negative experiences, customer respondents still said that live-agent channels such as a phone call (64%) and online chat (64%) provided the most ease of contact. And, when asked which channel provides the fastest response to a customer inquiry, live agent-assisted channels including phone calls (50%) and online & video chat (23%) proved popular.
It’s also worth noting that next to this overall preference for the phone, the share of customers who feel that digital channels provide the fastest issue resolution has grown in the last five years from 24% in 2015, to 38% in 2020.
Discrepancies Between Customers and Businesses
Interestingly, the report suggests that business leaders might have a slightly inflated estimation of their customer service – where 88% of business leaders said it was easy or very easy for customers to get their issues handled efficiently, only 75% of customers said the same.
Channel by channel, email sees the biggest discrepancy, with some 90% of business leaders rating it very easy or easy to use and just 63% of customers saying the same.
Above all, the report emphasizes the importance of getting the customer experience right, finding that some 73% of customers will consider switching to a competitor after one negative customer service experience. Similarly, earlier research from Qualtrics also found that close half of customers have cut their spending with companies after having had a bad experience.
Read the full report here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 250 US business leaders with revenue of $250 million+ and a survey of 1,000 US consumers (18+).