Eptica recently released their 2014 Multichannel Customer Experience Study. The study evaluated 100 leading UK companies on their ability to provide answers to 10 routine questions via the web as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email, Twitter and web chat, repeating research carried out over the past two years. The study showed that the least effective customer service channel for UK brands was Twitter.
This blog post outlines the key findings of the study and what companies can learn from it. The statistics from the study can be found in the infographic at the bottom of the post and the full document can be downloaded from the Eptica website.
One main finding of the study is that, despite companies offering email and Twitter customer service support, the rate of problem resolution through these channels is low. 76% of companies offer Twitter as a form of contact between them and their customers. Only 39% of companies are able to answer queries through the social media platform however. A surprising 29% of companies were unreachable via email, with only 41% of companies successfully responding to emails sent to their customer service department.
If these companies are looking to impress customers and keep them buying their products and services then they are going about it the wrong way. 60% of consumers say that they will pay more for a better experience, but currently email and Twitter appears to be failing at providing effective customer service.
Not only is the level that companies are replying through email and Twitter support low, but they also reply extremely slowly when there is an attempt to solve the customer's problem. The average Twitter response time was 8 hours and 37 minutes. The average email response time was 61 hours and 39 minutes. The slowness of resolution via email is something which consumers have come to expect, it's of course not something which they have come to accept though. Slow email responses are far from effective customer service. Slow Twitter responses are surprising given the public nature of the platform. The world and his dog are able to see when a brand takes a long time to reply, and they can also see any fallout which comes from the disgruntled customer because of it.
Low Live Chat Adoption
Surprisingly, out of the 100 companies surveyed, only 7 of them offered live chat as a customer service channel on their site. Live chat allows companies to offer fast problem resolution on a one-to-one basis. Live chat agents are able to handle multiple enquiries at one time, meaning customers can receive fast responses and companies can reduce staffing costs. Live chat allows effective customer service due to response times being a matter of seconds and problems being resolved in a matter of minutes. It means customers leave your site satisfied, the whole point of customer service.
Live chat doesn't just create effective customer service in an after sales situation but also before a customer makes a purchase. According to a report by LivePerson, 78% of online shoppers often or sometimes research online before shopping in store. When companies are able to offer support in these situations, when the potential customer is on your site and looking for information and advice, they can see a direct impact in online conversion rates.
Eptica's study also found that only 12% of companies gave consistent answers across email, Twitter and web chat (live chat). Several companies also gave directly contradicting answers across these channels. It's clear that many companies are delegating different channels of their customer service support to separate teams and/or not all customer service agents are being given the same information.
It's crucial that there is a high level of training given to new agents and that all agents are kept updated on any changes to the company's terms and conditions or offerings. At The Chat Shop we keep our agents constantly informed of any changes in client offerings but also keep all of the information on our central knowledge base so that it can be easily referred to at any time.