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Phone’s Still the Best Route to Customer Satisfaction


Even though today’s digitally connected consumers say they’d rather not talk face to face with brands, the phone remains the best way to resolve their issues and keep them in the fold. Digital and social channels don’t even come close, according to a study of the customers of 50 companies including Apple, Blue Shield, Citigroup, Procter & Gamble, United Airlines, and Walmart.

On behalf of CXAct, a customer experience company, Social Lens Research recently asked customers to provide details on levels of service and satisfaction they received regarding billing questions, product issues, and general inquiries. Some 86% said their issues were resolved satisfactorily by talking to an agent over the phone, while only 44% said email worked, and just 27% found an answer via Facebook. The most successful digital means of resolution was Web chat at 70%.

Considering that retaining current customers is cheaper than capturing new ones, these numbers loom large for direct marketers. Ninety-four percent of customers said that a positive contact experience would make them likely to re-purchase, compared to only 6% of those with negative experiences.

The study also revealed that brands are having as tough a time achieving multichannel integration with their CX programs as they are with their marketing campaigns. Top performers in phone service, on average, received low scores for satisfaction on chat (40%), email (22%), and Facebook (17%). Only 20 of the 50 brands tested offered a chat option and, remarkably, only half attempted to answer customer concerns via email.

“Consistency is markedly absent in both variety of offerings and the quality of those channels,” says CXAct CEO Crystal Collier. “It’s also clear that exceptional customer service via phone does not translate to digital channels. With more consumers turning to digital for customer service, especially young consumers, brands need to take steps now to offer higher quality service via digital.”

Problems for most brands begin at home—on their website’s homepage, to be specific. Only 52% of those surveyed said customer care information was easy to find on company websites, and only 24% found the information useful.

CXAct polled customers of the leading brands in nine verticals in arriving at its results: Airlines, automotive, cable/internet, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, financial institutions, insurance, retail, and supermarkets.

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