• September 1, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

It Takes More than Coupons to Settle Complaints

Article Featured Image

When making a complaint to companies, just one in five consumers is looking for some sort of compensation, according to a recent customer benchmarking study by eDigital Research.

Instead of a payout or free products, most consumers would prefer a quick resolution or an apology, according to the firm. In fact, of the 2,000 consumers surveyed, half said they’d prefer an immediate resolution when contacting companies to complain about faulty products or bad service.

The analysis also found that the helpfulness of staff was paramount, with 40 percent valuing it above anything else. Another 25 percent said they value an apology, and 31 percent value agents' dedication to resolving their issues.

Regardless of how the company responds, though, personalization is the key, according to Derek Eccleston, global commercial officer at eDigital Research. "We often find that consumers will rate customer service higher if they feel that a response or service has been tailored and personalized to them," he says. "It means that companies must look to personalize responses to their customers if they want their apologies to appear as genuine and sincere."

The study also revealed that when it comes to channels, customers are most satisfied with live chat (73 percent), which they prefer over email (62 percent), online forms (62 percent), mobile apps (54 percent), social media (53 percent), regular mail (50 percent), phone (45 percent), or text message (36 percent).

Email is still the most widely used channel, at 85 percent, followed by phone, at 82 percent. Social media, though used by only 11 percent of consumers, is one of the fastest-growing channels, doubling since last year. Thirty-one percent of consumers have used live chat to contact companies in the past year, and more than a third (37 percent) now expect to be able to reach brands by live chat.

Phone is considered by far the most difficult channel to use, with long hold times and difficulties reaching the right departments among the reasons for higher customer effort. To improve performance, eDigital Research recommends answering calls within one minute and having less than two levels in place before the customer reaches an agent.

As for the other channels, eDigital Research suggests responding to email within 12 hours, to social media posts within an hour, and to live chats within a minute. The firm says that companies should make the live-chat function easy to find on Web sites and mobile apps.

"From our research, we also know that customers are also after an absolute immediate reply to their queries," Eccleston says. "Thanks to the age of social media and the rise in the number of contact channels available, consumers increasingly expect their queries or questions to be answered, especially if they're using newer, digital touch points to contact a company."

Eccleston points out that properly timing the response is critical, but also difficult. "Herein lies the challenge for businesses," he says.

Businesses "don't have to invest heavily in making it possible to respond to every customer right away. Instead, businesses should focus on setting expectations and being up front and honest with how long a customer can expect to wait for a response. And if you promise to respond to an email enquiry within two days, make sure you do."

Among the other elements that make for good customer experiences, according to the study: agents' undivided attention and ability to listen; customers being taken seriously; and polite and knowledgeable agents.

"The easier that a company makes it for a customer to contact them and the quicker the issue is resolved, the more satisfied [customers] are likely to be," Eccleston concluded in the report. "Sympathizing with your customers and offering an apology is more likely to increase customer satisfaction than offering some form of compensation." 

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues