There are lots of ways of measuring the customer experience, from First Contact Resolution rates to Net Promoter Scores. While these deliver useful data, companies also need to step into their customers’ shoes and see for themselves how good service is. Visit your own website and ask the same basic questions that customers do – is it easy to find the right information and do your online responses actually answer the question? If not, consumers will be forced to change channel and call or email your contact centre – or alternatively, will leave your site and head straight for your competitors.
At Eptica, we’ve used this customer focused methodology for several years to look at the state of UK online service. Our latest research report, the 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study, has just been released and demonstrates room for improvement when it comes to keeping customers satisfied.
100 leading companies in ten sectors were evaluated on their ability to provide answers to ten routine questions via the web, as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email. Questions were tailored to each sector – so, for example one of the questions airlines were asked was “My flight was cancelled. How do I get a refund?”
The headline findings were that UK companies are struggling to deliver an adequate customer experience with websites only able to answer just over half (53%) of customer questions. While this is a slight improvement from the 50% answer rate of 2011, it does show there’s plenty of room for improvement.
There’s also a growing chasm between best and worst. For example fashion retailers could answer 75% of questions asked on their sites, while CD/DVD/Booksellers and food retailers scored just 40%. Worryingly given we asked the same questions as in 2011, 28% of companies performed worse than in 2012 – showing a real decline in the experience they are providing.
One thing that stood out in the 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study was the variation between different companies in the same sector. One food retailer successfully answered all ten customer questions on its website – but three other companies in the same sector could only score two out of ten.
This demonstrates two key points:
– Delivering the right customer experience online is achievable, and many companies are excelling at web customer service through sites that make it easy to access up to date, accurate information to answer customer questions.
– If you’re not providing the right information to customers, it is likely that your competitors are, meaning that you need to benchmark yourself against them and adopt best practice across your operations.
The 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study report is available for download here, with key findings summarised in this handy infographic. And we’ll be returning to the research over the next few weeks in the blog, drilling into the data to see the state of UK customer service, both in different industries and through channels such as email and social media. Let us know your feedback.
The devastation brought by Superstorm Sandy to the North East United States has impacted huge numbers of people. As well as loss of life, millions have been without power and hundreds of thousands more have had to evacuate their homes and abandon their possessions. And as previous natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, have shown, cleaning up the aftermath and getting life back to normal can take an extremely long time.
When it comes to an event of this magnitude, organisations need to make sure that their customer service can cope. All companies need to ensure that they are helping people both to prepare for the worst and to cope with the disruption that a natural disaster brings.
- Insurance companies – provide advice on how people can protect themselves and their property and deliver clear information on how to make a claim
- Utilities – warn of potential power outages and give an accurate timescale on when services are likely to be restored
- Airlines – with thousands of flights grounded, provide information to help travellers plan different routes, and how they can claim refunds if applicable
- Banks – in a crisis people need cash, so make sure that services such as ATMs are available, opening emergency branches if needed
- Telecoms companies – like utilities give a clear picture of which services are affected, bearing in mind that many people won’t have access to the internet
- Retailers – make sure you stock the emergency supplies that people need and keep shoppers informed about when new deliveries will be in
And these are just examples of private sector organisations – in a crisis of this magnitude the biggest customer service challenge faces public authorities who need to provide clear information to citizens, persuade them to follow emergency plans and demonstrate that they are able to cope with the disaster as it unfolds. Communication across channels (from TV and radio to the internet, telephone and even vans with loudspeakers touring affected areas) is vital and the message needs to be clear, straightforward and easy to understand if people are to take the right actions.
No-one should look to profit from natural disasters but it is an opportunity for organisations to demonstrate that they really do put their customers first and are thinking about how to help them at an incredibly difficult time. Get it right and you’ll have earned customer loyalty – do it badly and the damage to your brand (and revenues) will be incalculable.