76% of customer service teams offer support outside of business hours [New Research]

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The customer service landscape has gone through a major transformation over the past few years. Customers today hold more clout than they used to. They’re more aware, have more choices, and possess a stronger voice.

Brands are having to pay attention and craft experiences that meet the rapidly changing customer needs.

Having a digital presence has become extremely important, for instance. Data reveals that the past two years have seen a tremendous surge in e-commerce sales and internet usage.

One of the main reasons for this trend is the pandemic. It’s changed the brand-customer relationship in many different ways.

But what needs to be highlighted is the fact that customers have become even more picky. They want to interact with brands they can genuinely trust. Ones that empathize with their needs and craft memorable experiences. Ones that they can depend on anytime anywhere – just like a friend.

So, how are companies meeting these growing customer needs in 2021? Which channels are they leveraging to deliver a consistent experience? How are they tracking if their efforts are paying off or not?

Hiver – the world’s first Gmail-based helpdesk – surveyed over 500 US-based customer service professionals across various industries and company sizes. The aim was to find out how companies today deliver support and track their support performance and quality. The respondents were asked about their respective teams’ processes, the various channels they use to interact with customers, their response and resolution times, what KPIs they measure and more.

Here are some of the key findings from Hiver’s 2021 Customer Service Benchmark Report.

1. Remote work is the future: 60% of support teams have some form of remote work arrangement

Remote work used to be a perk. Or it used to be something only a few “really cool” companies would offer. But the pandemic has changed all that.

It has forced businesses to adopt a fully remote work structure overnight.

What’s surprising is that despite the global vaccine rollout and many countries easing lockdown restrictions, a majority of customer service teams continue to have some kind of remote work arrangement.

According to Hiver’s research, 61% of support teams work remotely in some capacity. At least 25% of these teams have adopted a fully remote work structure while 36% have a hybrid work model. At the same time, about 38% of teams work out of an office.


Image source: Hiver

2. Support teams are going the extra mile: 76% of teams offer support outside of business hours

What if we tell you that offering customer support 9-5 on weekdays doesn’t cut it anymore?

Customers today have higher expectations. They want to be able to interact with companies WHEN they want to.

The good news is that many brands are realizing this and how it could be a crucial differentiator in the market. The survey found out that around 75%, ie. nearly 3 in 4 companies are extending support beyond the average, 8 hours, 5 days a week.


Image source: Hiver

What’s even better is that the highest fraction of surveyed support professionals – around 34% of them – are offering customers 24×7 support.


Image source: Hiver

3. Multi-channel support is a must-have: 60% teams offer support across three or more channels

With technology becoming pervasive, the nature of interactions between brands and customers have become more complex.

Earlier, offering customer support across a single channel might have sufficed, but today, customers want to get in touch with brands using whatever touchpoint or channel they are most comfortable with. This could be email, SMS, social media, or IVR, amongst others.

Many brands have effectively adapted to these changing customer needs. In fact, close to 60% of customer service professionals said that their teams offer support across three or more support channels.


Image source: Hiver

Phone, email, and chat are amongst the top channels used by these teams.

Out of these three channels, phone support tops the list with almost 83% of customer service teams offering it. Email comes second with approximately 77% of teams providing support via email. Live chat is offered by about 43% of teams.

4. Companies want to deliver quality support: Almost 50% teams have SLAs of less than six hours

If you’re looking to deliver great customer support, speed of service matters a lot. The faster you serve your customers, the more they are willing to trust and champion your brand.

Hiver’s Customer Service Benchmark Report gives an insight into how support teams are raising their standards. Close to 46% of teams have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) policy to resolve customer queries in less than six hours.

More impressively, less than 10% of support teams have SLAs to resolve customer requests between 24-48 hours.


Image source: Hiver

5. Customer satisfaction takes priority: 41% say CSAT is their most critical KPI

Great customer service is about getting multiple things right. We stressed upon speed of service and how companies are upping their game on this front. But there are other factors that are important too — such as resolution time, customer effort involved, quality of responses, empathy and more.

That’s why support teams need to measure their performance against these factors, by constantly tracking key metrics.

On that note, Hiver’s research shows that some KPIs are more critical than others — irrespective of industry or company size.

The most important metric happens to be Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). 41% of surveyed support professionals say that CSAT is their team’s most important KPI.


Image source: Hiver

Conclusion

In the age of the consumer, delivering delightful customer service is critical to longevity for any business. Yet, more companies get it wrong than right — despite making large investments in technology, staff, and other resources.

That’s why, this benchmarking data becomes critical for support teams to analyze what they’re doing right, where they’re falling short, and how they compare with other customer service teams.

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