Companies strive to deliver more efficient customer service, and every year their efforts bring better results. The 2019 Customer Service Report, based on LiveChat’s data, shows that in 2018 an average business that delivered customer service via live chat improved both the first response time (3 seconds faster than in 2017) and handle time (10 seconds faster than in 2017).
According to Forrester 2018 businesses added headcount and massively deployed AI solutions that might have positively influenced companies’ customer support. Still, keeping high and steady customer satisfaction rates is now more difficult than ever.
According to LiveChat’s data, customer satisfaction has been dropping in the past few years. In 2016, the global benchmark for customer satisfaction totaled 86 percent. In 2017, it came to 83,5 percent and lowered to 82 percent in 2018.
Rising customer expectations and changing clients’ habits are partially responsible for that trend. With the development of messaging apps, more extensive market offer and steadily improving support services, clients have become more demanding (Forrester 2018). People can pick and choose from various forms of support. They can contact firms via different channels and devices. Fast customer service has become a norm and it isn’t satisfactory for customers anymore. As Shep Hyken states “Customers no longer compare you to just a competitor. You are now compared to the best service the customer received from any company, and that raises the bar for everyone.”
Moreover, as 2018 was the year of AI, companies reveled in bots hoping they will be able to replace human support agents. Businesses massively deployed chatbots without tailoring them to the customers’ needs. A lot of them focused mainly on automation neglecting a personal approach that is highly valued by consumers. In effect, poorly developed bots weren’t able to deliver the service customers expected.
On top of that, businesses have to cope with more chat queries than in previous years. The study reports that the overall number of chats between brands and customers rose from 334 million in 2017 to 437 million chats in 2018. This one million growth signifies that live chat has become a more convenient form of contact.
Channel Preferences Changing
The tendency is caused by the influence of technology on consumers’ habits. The switches are especially visible among younger generations. Millennials don’t like to use phones to call families or friends, let alone businesses. Calling requires greater engagement and make us interrupt particular activities. In fact, phones, in general, are less and less used with their original purpose whereas messaging is quick and doesn’t involve so much focus. When it comes to emails, they are still popular but they aren’t the clients first choice as they don’t provide the same level of simplicity and immediacy as texting (Forbes).
In effect, to measure up to changing customer habits and expectations, companies need to extend and transform their support services, and this doesn’t happen overnight.
What might be surprising is the fact that clients don’t necessarily need companies to respond to their problems immediately to be satisfied with the service. It came out that the ability to solve a case in one touch point influences customer happiness much more. According to the study, the highest customer satisfaction rates (up to 90%) are achieved by companies that have one of the longest handle times (Software, Web Hosting, IT). Such firms deal with problems so well thanks to well-organized knowledge bases and combining diverse technologies that allow streamlining and automating processes.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
So what are the doable solutions that can help firms of all sizes achieve better customer satisfaction?
In the first place, businesses should reply to clients requests in short order and deliver efficient service to solve issues at one touch point. Clients don’t mind to spend a little more time chatting with customer service specialists provided the conversation ends with fixing the problem. Quality of the service should be above its speed.
Customer service agents should also apply a more human approach. Repetitive cases are already being handled by bots and more often, agents come into contact with customers to handle complex issues only. Such cases require a thorough analysis but also empathy. That’s why businesses need to train their agents so that they can work effectively without forgetting that the personal touch should dominate the service. Such an approach will give customers the feeling of being understood and let brands build long-lasting relationships with clients.
Additionally, brands should inform customers about the developments in their cases. John Tucker, CEO at HelpFlow, says “We found that visitors really appreciate being reported on the progress of the agent handling their chat. Even if you don’t have a full resolution, keeping the visitor updated on your progress frequently will boost your chat satisfaction score.”
All this leads to more complex employee training and time that need to be invested in AI deployment. To solve problems faster, customer service agents need to be more knowledgeable about various areas and have easier access to information. This can be achieved by adequate onboarding processes, regular training courses adjusted to customers’ needs and expectations as well as a proper combination of tools.
Supported by well-developed customer service chatbots created to handle less demanding cases, companies will have more time to focus on complex problems. Consequently, firms will be able to lower the number of tickets and resolve more issues within one conversation, paving the way to better customer experience and higher customer satisfaction rates.
Excellent customer service is no longer about cutting costs and complete automation. It’s more about mixing the technology, data and human factor that connected together allow businesses to boost the performance of online communication strategy. Thanks to such combination everything runs like clockwork – agents’ jobs are simpler, faster and more effective and customers are satisfied.