First, the good news. Consumers are likely to purchase more products from and recommend, a company that provides exceptional customer service.

That’s a key finding in the 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark study, which captured and compared the attitudes of 2550 consumers in the US, UK and Australia.

The report confirms the importance of customer service on the companies’ bottom line.

Most consumers agree they are willing to buy more products (87 per cent) and are willing to recommend a company to others (81 per cent) if they have an exceptional customer service experience.

Notably, the importance of exceptional customer service will likely grow, as it appears to be more important to younger consumers.

The bad news is that bad service is still punished harshly. The study found that more than eight in ten consumers are very likely to switch brands if they’ve had a bad customer service experience. “Consumers in both Australia and the UK are more likely to switch companies if they have a bad customer service experience,” according to the report’s authors.

One area where consumers feel brands are particularly falling down is in the area of providing a seamless experience as they move across channels.

The authors reveal that “Overall, about three-quarters (73 per cent) of consumers globally say companies are doing a poor job allowing customers to switch seamlessly between methods of communication.”

“From social media messaging, to text, to chatbots, the customer relationship takes place across a wide and diverse range of channels in addition to voice,” said Rod Lester, NICE Managing Director, ANZ. 

“We have seen that increasingly, customers are embracing multiple digital channels to communicate and engage. Therefore, it is important for businesses to be able to quickly adopt and integrate digital channels into a seamless omnichannel customer experience,” he adds. 

Usage of agent-assisted self-service

While organisations continue to add more channels, agent-assisted — particularly phone — dominates the CX scene.

Mobile apps are being used more for self-service. According to the NICE report, mobile app usage has become the most often used self-service method.  The increase in mobile app usage was seen in all countries

According to Lester, “Companies need to provide true omnichannel experiences that seamlessly blend voice and digital as well as agent-assisted and self-service channels. 

“In today’s digital-first era, customers’ use of multiple digital channels in addition to voice is growing. Not only are more customers using self-service channels, more customers are interacting with agents.”

More users are turning to chatbots for solutions, with a number of them from the younger generations. Chatbots have also seen a significant increase from seven per cent in 2018 to 13 per cent of most recent interactions in 2019.

The report authors note that this can be attributed to younger consumers, who are much more likely to use chatbots for their most recent interaction — 22 per cent of Generation Z and 19 per cent of Millennials. The increase in chatbot usage is significant in every region.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Customer Service

Consumers are using more AI and feeling more positive with chatbots over time. However, the report notes that Australians are interacting the least with AI and those in the US interacting with AI the most.

Generation Z and Millennials are most likely to have used all forms of AI for any purpose, and for customer service.

While the positivity of attitudes toward chatbots is growing, consumers are still cautious. Most want to be informed if they are using a chatbot, prefer a live agent, and want chatbots to get smarter before they use them regularly.

Channel performance

Agent-assisted methods lead to customer satisfaction and preference ahead of self-service options.

Phone, email and online chat dominate other communication channels. They receive the highest scores for satisfaction, preference, and net promoter score (NPS).

Amongst self-service methods, mobile apps are a top channel for satisfaction and preference. However, mobile app NPS has dropped since 2018.

Consumers find digital communications the easiest way to communicate, as they rate private social messaging apps, online chat, email and text among the easiest methods to use.

Lester says the NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark shows that contact centres are moving to the cloud, and also plan to invest in providing superior customer experiences. 

“Leading organisations of all sizes can stay agile and ahead of customer expectations by leveraging a complete, unified and intelligent cloud contact centre platform, to deliver quick, effortless interactions – anywhere.”

About this author

Athina Mallis is the editor of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which NICE is a corporate member. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply. 

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