Brands, take note: Customers still struggle to reach you

Social media isn't helping, one U.S. survey says

There's plenty of lip service paid today to the importance of customer service, but a new study suggests brands are failing miserably at delivering it. Social media, it turns out, isn't making things any better.

In any given year, more than 80 percent of consumers try to reach a brand, and for most of them, it's an exercise in frustration, according to new data from The Northridge Group. Fifty-five percent say they need to use two or more communication channels to contact a company or brand before an issue is resolved. In general, 44 percent of consumers say companies don't make it easy to contact them.

As for social media, 77 percent of consumers say they use social channels to contact companies at least as much as they did a year ago, but one in five never even get a response, Northridge found.

For its State of Customer Service Experience 2016 report, released Tuesday, the consultancy surveyed more than 1,000 people in the U.S.

// //

There's also a generational factor at work, the data suggest. While roughly a fifth of Baby Boomers will try another communications channel within 60 minutes if their issue is not adequately addressed, millennials are even more likely to do it: a full 40 percent of them will jump to another channel in that situation.

Northridge attributes that difference to the rise of mobile and digital technologies, resulting in a lower tolerance for delays among younger consumers.

“When it comes to interacting with customer service departments, today’s time-starved consumers want easy,” says Pam Plyler, executive practice lead for customer experience at Northridge. “The unfortunate reality is that as consumers attempt to make contact with brands, it is anything but easy. Their experiences are often highly fragmented, inconsistent, labor intensive and lacking personalization."

Of course, as a management consulting firm that specializes in customer experience and business transformation, Northridge has an interest in telling companies they need help in this area. But similar observations are not difficult to find.

"This is all true," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group and author of several related books. "It's hard to contact companies, and not just conventional companies."

Many startups that operate on a cloud model "try to channel customers only into their sales funnel and only through their websites," Pombriant said. "The result is frustration when you want service and not to make another purchase."

A company's objective should not be to resolve problems on the first call, but rather to eliminate those calls altogether, he said. "You get that when you map your processes and then seek to eliminate bottlenecks using analytics and metrics."

When problems do arise, responses had better be quick.

"All customers, but especially the millennials, have been trained by subscription companies to be impatient and to expect rapid responses, because subscription companies are geared to being more responsive," Pombriant said. "Whether you're a traditional company of a subscription company, that's the reality you deal with."

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Cannes 2017: The Machines Are Here

It’s day 4 in Cannes and among the ever-growing divergent panels, presentations and workshops spanning from one end of the Croisette to the other, there has been a very real emergence of how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning needs to fit into the marketing ecosystem of today and tomorrow.

Aden Hepburn

Executive creative director and managing director, VML Australia

Is your content marketing missing the mark?

Does it ever seem like the content you create falls flat on its face or that the leads you’re generating aren’t worth following up?

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

​ Creating a purpose-driven brand

So you want to be a brand with purpose. But what does it actually mean to build a brand with real meaning?

Paul Chappell

Partner and managing director, Brand + Story

It is interesting. Rebrand is very good. Perhaps they should change the logo to something more modern. For example as it is - https://www...

David Hill

Grace Group undergoes first rebrand in 30 years to unify and contemporise

Read more

Hey Guys, just one small typo that changes a part of the story :“That was a really big step forward for our company because we didn’t hav...

Damian Young

Chobani tastes success with data analytics platform

Read more

This is amazing! Congratulations to Cochlear for continuing to lead innovation in every way!

Chris

How this marketing ops leader is lifting the automation ante at Cochlear

Read more

Interesting case! It seems like universities can also benefit from marketing automation. I've started using getresponse some time ago and...

Aaren

How marketing automation is helping drive CX change at Adelaide University

Read more

Always great to see and read these success stories and the growth of gamification. This story is very warming and can act as an inspirati...

James Doyle

5 tips to boost engagement with gamification from Donut King

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in