Emerging Digital Features Could Prevent Customer Service Disasters, Reports Suggest

Digital FeaturesA new study by Consumer Reports reveals that many consumers are unhappy with today’s customer service experience. Overall, the report suggests companies need to look to new technologies in order to improve their relationships with existing and prospective customers.

The report, which was compiled by the Consumer Reports National Research Center and based on survey data, revealed that the vast majority of those polled (88-percent) had had a customer service experience over the past year.

Interestingly, many reported having a rather miserable exchange with customer service representatives. Roughly half of all respondents said they’d left a store without making a purchase because they were so upset with poor customer service. Even more respondents said they’d been so upset with shoddy customer service that they’d hung up the phone. The study also revealed that, on average, women were more likely to be disappointed with their customer service experience.

Consumer Reports is hardly the first research team to find problems with the nation’s customer service. Recently, a report from Arizona State University found that many companies use unnecessarily complex automated response menus that confuse and frustrate customers who want quick answers from human beings. Other problems: customer service representatives with limited decision-making authority or call centers with insufficient customer service reps.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Arizona State University study shows that the number of complaints being filed each year has dropped since 2011. Meanwhile, the Consumer Reports study reveals that the percentage of people who felt angry about a salesperson’s rudeness or the inability to get an actual person on the phone had dropped over a similar period.

Shep Hyken, a customer care specialist, suggests this is because many companies have made digital and self-serve options — like FAQs and online request forms — available to customers through their websites. These features often save time on both ends, reducing frustration and costs. “Companies are making it easier for customers to use simple solutions,” Shep said.

Looking forward, companies can work to improve their customer service experience by expanding these digital service features. The expansion of online chat, text messaging support, and how-to videos could continue to lower customer service costs while saving customers from long and frustrating phone wait times.

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About the Author: Brandon Dimmel