Survey: 3 tips to deliver world-class customer service


Customer service: smiling businessman on phone walking outdoors

No matter what industry you’re in, your customers’ expectations have permanently shifted. Customers expect consumer-grade experiences that are frictionless, delightfully designed, and valuable for their needs.

“Consumer-grade experiences” are associated with the best consumer companies, such as Apple, Netflix, and Amazon. These companies famously put the customer at the center of everything. The result is seamlessly integrated technology, personalized content, and goods that show up the same day.

This is the new standard, even for industries that aren't historically known for customer experience, such as enterprise software, healthcare, and telecom.

Of course, customer experience and customer service go hand in hand. You can’t deliver consumer-grade experiences without great customer service. But not all customer service experiences are created equal. How many of us have had a billing issue resolved within minutes by a virtual agent on the same day another company kept us on hold for hours?

How do you deliver great customer service in our increasingly omnichannel world? To find out, ServiceNow and Qualtrics conducted joint research to uncover the nuances of customer service across industries and identify best practices for organizations looking to deliver great service experiences. Here’s what we learned:

ServiceNow and Qualtrics customer service research data points


1. Connect the entire organization

Solving the most complex customer problems often requires communication and collaboration across multiple teams. However, many companies haven’t connected their customer-facing systems with the middle- and back-office functions that are critical to resolving customer inquiries. This leads to silos the customer feels.

The numbers tell us companies have a long way to go in this area. According to the joint research from ServiceNow and Qualtrics, approximately two-thirds of customers said they’ve needed to switch between two to three service channels (live chat, phone, in-person) to resolve an issue. This happened either because the agent couldn’t resolve the issue at hand or because the agent didn’t have the right information to complete a request.

This problem spans virtually all industries—most often for customers interacting with government services (76%), technology and IT businesses (74%), retailers (70%), and telecom companies (67%), with healthcare (66%), travel (66%), and financial services (65%) not far behind. Many customers said they’ve had to repeat the same information multiple times before a request was resolved.

To create a truly frictionless, end-to-end customer service experience, you need to empower and connect the entire organization to work together to serve the customer. This involves making work flow seamlessly, automating tasks, and providing transparency to every person involved in solving a customer’s request.

2. Deliver speed and efficiency

The best customer experiences are frictionless. In addition to friendly and knowledgeable service, customers demand speed and convenience. Organizations need to be able to solve problems quickly—ideally at the moment a customer reaches out.

The joint research bears this out. Long wait times continue to be the most frustrating customer service issue (56%), followed by an agent taking too long to resolve an issue (28%) and the inability to reach an actual human (23%). What’s more, over half of the survey respondents (51%) said they wouldn’t wait more than 10 minutes on hold before closing an interaction or hanging up.

Self-service can play a critical role in delivering fast and efficient service—if companies automate the fulfillment process. When companies give customers the tools to find answers to common questions or easily route requests to the right teams, customers can get help at the exact moment they need it.

Customer experience and customer service go hand in hand. You can’t deliver consumer-grade experiences without great customer service.


3. Provide empathy and personalization 

Delightful customer experiences are a powerful way to retain customers and attract new ones, but the inverse is also true. Eighty percent of customers have switched brands because of poor customer experiences.

According to the joint research, customers interacting with retailers (62%) and financial services (59%) are most likely to switch brands due to poor customer experiences. Healthcare (41%) and telecommunications (43%) have the lowest percentage of customers who switched due to a negative interaction.

Great customer experiences require empathy. Your customers often reach out during difficult or stressful times and want you to care about their problem as much as they do. When customer service makes a real, human connection, it can make a lasting impression and a customer for life.

Our joint research shows treating customers empathetically remains an opportunity area for most. People reaching out to government institutions are the least likely to say they were treated with empathy during their interaction (57%), followed by retail (60%). However, seven out of 10 customers who interacted with a financial services company said they were treated with empathy.

Personalization is one powerful way to connect with customers. According to the new research, companies fared slightly better in personalization, but there’s still ample room for improvement. Telecommunications (66%) and government (67%) scored the lowest in providing personalized service, while financial services (77%) and technology and IT (76%) performed the best.

Meeting customers where they are

Delivering great experiences comes down to knowing your customers and showing up for them in the moments that matter. That takes insights and action. I’m grateful for our partnership with Qualtrics, whose unparalleled technology gives the Now Platform® the insights we need to take the right action at the right time for our joint customers.

ServiceNow and Qualtrics most recently launched Qualtrics Embedded Insights. Available today, it brings Qualtrics XM insights into ServiceNow workspaces to help customer service teams make better, more holistic decisions on how to improve what matters to customers.

Find out more about the ServiceNow-Qualtrics partnership.

Methodology

The study of consumer customer service preferences across industries was fielded by Qualtrics, in partnership with ServiceNow, between May 16-20, 2022. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age, and had a customer service experience with a financial services, retail, government, telecommunications, hospitality, technology & IT, or healthcare business in the last six months. The total number of respondents was 3,089. Respondents who did not pass quality standards were removed.

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