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Consumers to businesses: Your customer service is trying too hard—and not where it matters

by | Oct 28, 2021 | Public Relations

When it comes to customer service, the biggest disconnect between consumers and businesses is the desire to solve an issue the first time the company is contacted. This is what customers want, but businesses seem to have different—and contradictory—goals on first contact, according to new research from customer experience orchestration firm Genesys.

The firm’s newly released State of Customer Experience report examines consumer preferences and how businesses are approaching customer experience. First conducted in 2017, the report analyzes trends in consumer expectations, where businesses are getting it right—and where they’re getting it wrong.

More than half (54 percent) of consumers want a company to solve their issues at first interaction, yet only one-third of businesses prioritize first-contact resolution (FCR). Businesses instead prioritize focusing on professionalism and friendliness (48 percent) in customer service interactions and being quick to respond to requests (38 percent).

Increasingly, businesses see customer experience as a main driver of consumer trust and loyalty, so much so that it has become a board-level priority for more than half (58 percent) of companies in the study. With 70 percent of consumers believing a company is only as good as its customer service, it’s clear the customer experience can be a significant business advantage when done well. Yet, the fact that resolving a customer’s issue the first time isn’t a priority for more than two-thirds of businesses—and less than half (41 percent) believe they excel at FCR—demonstrates a significant gap in delivering the experiences consumers have come to expect.

In shedding light on consumer preferences, this report provides an opportunity for organizations to evaluate how they’re meeting consumer expectations to shift thinking from company-centric outcomes to customer-centric experiences.

Consumers to businesses: Your customer service is trying too hard—and not where it matters

“Businesses are missing the mark when it comes to fully understanding what it takes to meet customer expectations, especially of first-contact resolution,” said Ginger Conlon, customer experience advocate at Genesys, in a news release. “We’re in a reality where consumers expect a company to know who they are and engage with the best agent that’s equipped to meet their needs. Moving beyond efficiency and focusing on delivering the right data and orchestrating the next-best action in the ideal moment and channel are paths to success.”

Consumers to businesses: Your customer service is trying too hard—and not where it matters

Highlighted findings from the report:

Loyalty is fueled by listening—90 percent of repeat customers scored a business’ ability to listen as their most important attribute

With curated content from platforms like Instagram and TikTok at their fingertips, consumers have come to expect that brands understand them and are paying attention to their likes and dislikes. Tailored experiences that show a company is listening are being rewarded with brand loyalty and advocacy. When consumers feel they’ve had a personalized experience, more than 80 percent said they would purchase additional items, recommend the company to a friend, and purchase repeat items—an increase of 10 percent from 2017.

Consumers to businesses: Your customer service is trying too hard—and not where it matters

Voice remains the most-used channel (68 percent), but digital channels are surging

The number of consumers interacting with customer service through messaging, mobile apps, chatbots, social media and video calling more than doubled between 2017 and 2021. Even home assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are rising in popularity—one in 10 consumers worldwide have interacted with customer service through these devices.

More than a quarter (27 percent) of millennials and Generation Z consumers said they only buy from ethical and sustainable brands

As scrutiny increases on the responsibilities that businesses have to manage their social and environmental impact, younger generations are holding companies accountable with their spending power. Nearly half (46 percent) of consumers aged 18-34 said they prefer to buy from companies that are aligned with their social, ethical and environmental values—even if that means paying more for goods or services. Data protection, animal welfare, health and wellness, human rights, and environmental protection ranked as the top five consumer values, respectively.

Consumers to businesses: Your customer service is trying too hard—and not where it matters

Great CX leads (40 percent) consumers to become brand advocates on social media

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to praise companies for positive customer experiences. In addition to calling out a great experience, 30 percent would highlight exceptional effort a company makes.

From increased headcount and budgets to rapid digital growth, to expanding capabilities and more, the report reveals an increased focus on customer-centric experiences as a business advantage.

  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of businesses are hiring more agents for their contact centers. Interactions with the contact center have more than doubled from 2020 to 2021[1], driving the need for more agents to help handle the volume. For 11 percent of companies in the study, the surge was so significant that they’re planning to increase headcount by more than 50 percent over the next year.
  • Budgets are increasing for nearly three-fourths of businesses. The rise in traffic and the importance of improving CX are growing business investments. Seventy-one percent of respondents received a budget increase in 2021 and about one-fifth saw a budget increase of 50 percent or more.
  • Equipping agents with innovative tools that improve the employee experience is a priority. Businesses continue to invest in new technologies to better orchestrate the customer experience—and are most excited for tools that support and improve agents’ abilities to deliver great service. Leaders see predictive analytics (59 percent), agent-assist technology (58 percent), quality management and workforce optimization (57 percent) as the most valuable new technologies in managing the customer experience.
  • Virtual home assistants as customer service agents are on the rise. One-third of businesses are offering customer service through virtual home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Another 29 percent plan to integrate customer service on this channel within the next six months. As the highest-rated channel in customer satisfaction (46 percent), virtual home assistants show significant opportunities to enhance customer experience.

Consumers to businesses: Your customer service is trying too hard—and not where it matters

Download the full report here.

Genesys commissioned an independent research firm to conduct a global survey of 690 CX executives and 2,629 adults over the age of 18 between April and May 2021.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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