A new 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey commissioned by Parature, from Microsoft shows that old customer service channels certainly aren’t going away, but new ones like social are creating both greater and faster service expectations across the board.

It’s About Time

The survey, which gauged the responses of 1,000 U.S. consumers, shows that time and effectiveness are of the essence when it comes to a satisfying customer experience. Those surveyed listed getting my issue solved quickly (41%) and getting my issue resolved in a single interaction (26%) as the top two most important aspects of a good customer service experience.

Mad About You

Sixty-five percent (65%) of those surveyed said they’ve cut ties with a brand over a poor customer service experience. When asked what they find most frustrating, consumers listed as their top three pet peeves:

  • Having to contact a company multiple times for the same reason (47%)
  • Being passed from agent to agent during the same interaction (43%)
  • Impolite customer service representatives (37%).

Other top frustrations included being put on hold for a long period, CSRs or self-service offerings that do not answer my question, being told you’ll have to take another action to resolve your issue, CSRs not following up as promised, inability to reach a CSR through an IVR, and lack of online information or support channels. A large write-in response also came from not being able to understand the CSR due to language challenges.

Searching for an Answer

There’s no doubt that self-service content plays an important role in customer service and perhaps brands should be doing some research on Google and Bing to see how easy it is for customers to access information, as a whopping 84% of consumers surveyed said they’ve used the search engines to try and find the answer to their customer service questions.

Looking for a Response

Social media is also another area for investment, and if you think social is just for complainers, think again. When consumers were asked if they had ever used social media to complain about a brand or its customer service, 35% said yes; but 52% said they had used social media to do the opposite, praise a brand.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) said the brand had responded to their complaint, question, or praise on social media and more than half (51%) said that response gave them a more favorable view of the brand.

Top Survey Takeaways

While there are many individual customer service channel statistics to be gleaned from this survey, there many more overall takeaways we can learn from and apply to improving customer service interactions at every touchpoint and across the customer journey:

1. The More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same. While buzzwords and industry talk many focus on the “shiny objects” in multichannel customer care including social media and mobile, we cannot forget about the tried and true channels such as phone, email and live chat that customers use when they need immediate and personalized help. They aren’t going away any time soon, so offering responsive service no matter what the touchpoint is incredibly important.

2. Consistent and Responsive Service Across Channels is Key. Customers don’t want to have to repeat themselves on one channel or across many, or be passed from channel to channel or rep to rep to complete a transaction. It’s a top frustration as seen in this report, so as brands, we must break down the silos across individual customer care channels and ensure that real-time customer data and interaction information flows seamlessly across them.

3. Speed is Good, But Not at the Expense of Effectiveness. Speed of service should be a focus, but not speed of getting a customer off the phone or closing out a ticket if their issue remains or if they’re not completely satisfied with the experience. As a customer care community, we must revisit the metrics we use to measure success and stop passing the buck and the customer to someone else. Expectations and frustrations are continuing to grow. Let’s focus our efforts on both to reduce the latter.

This is the Age of the Customer, where each interaction can make or break a brand. Let’s take the initiative to be more customer-centric across our organizations to improve customer acquisition, retention and advocacy.

Click here to download and read the complete results from the 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey.