New research from omnichannel comms solutions firm Mitto examines consumer sentiment toward customer support, revealing an overwhelming appreciation of strong customer support from brands. In fact. American consumers said they are more likely to talk publicly about “good” support experiences than “poor” ones (65 percent compared to 29 percent)—a key finding as brands examine the role customer support channels play in brand loyalty, trust and retention amidst rapidly changing consumer behaviors.
The commissioned survey, conducted by Pollfish, who polled 1,000 Americans who have interacted with customer support at least once in the past year, also explored what consumers believe good/bad support looks like, preferred channels of engagement and their perspective on the future of customer support following the pandemic.
What makes for good/bad customer support?
When asked what makes a “good” customer support experience, consumers indicated: the problem is solved (81 percent), the interaction is timely and efficient (66 percent), and the customer support is courteous (58 percent).
As for what makes for “poor” customer support, respondents said: a long wait time (73 percent), confusing instructions (61 percent), and difficulty understanding the support team (56 percent). The consequences of only a couple poor support experiences can be severe as well. An overwhelming majority of respondents (71 percent) indicated that it only takes 1-3 poor customer support experiences for them to stop patronizing a brand and 78 percent report losing trust in a brand that delivered a poor customer support experience. When asked how a good/bad support experience impacted their day, 53 percent said a poor one has ruined their day while 52 percent said a good one improved it.
“Consumers have made two things quite clear over the past year: good customer support is vital to brand loyalty, and their expectations for what makes for ‘good’ support continues to rise,” said Andrea Giacomini, CEO of Mitto, in a news release. “As critical engagement touchpoints can make or break a relationship, customer support must be a top priority for brands as they navigate through and past the pandemic, and today this means offering a variety of channels for customers to choose from when, how and where they want.
Customer support channels of choice
More than half (52 percent) of respondents said their preferred channel for interacting with customer support is SMS/text, with this channel being most preferable among 35-44 years olds (60%). When asked how long they are willing to wait for a support team member to respond to an inquiry over SMS/text, 35 percent said five minutes or less.
Chat apps like WhatsApp and Viber are preferred by 33 percent of respondents, with 38 percent saying they are willing to wait five minutes or less for a customer support team member to respond to their inquiry, indicating slightly more patience than SMS/text channels.
Prior research from Mitto revealed a wide range in use of messaging apps by country; U.S. consumers prefer Facebook, while those in China, Brazil, India and Nigeria prefer WhatsApp. But regardless of which channel they prefer, nearly all respondents (97 percent) said they feel it is important that their conversations with customer support are secure and private.
Customer support of the future
Mitto also examined the future of customer support following the past year in which 55 percent of respondents said they contacted support more than before the pandemic. In fact, over one-third of respondents (36 percent) said the customer support has become better since the pandemic, a nod to the significant investment brands have made in their support teams over the past year.
Reaching customers through their preferred channels and doing it safely will become increasingly important as well; 94 percent of respondents said they expect brands’ customer support to become more technologically advanced in the future and 33 percent said their standards for these interactions will become higher.
These findings are based on a Pollfish survey of 1,000 Americans. The survey ran on May 17, 2021.