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Interaction Speed and Availability of Multiple Channels Drive Customer Satisfaction Today

November 05, 2013

By Tracey E. Schelmetic,
TMCnet Contributor

Are customer-facing companies all over the world finally starting to “get it” when it comes to providing flexible, integrated, multichannel customer service? Maybe, if the results of a new benchmarking study are to be believed.

According to Zendesk’s quarterly benchmarking report, recently released for Q3 of this year, global customer satisfaction rose for the second consecutive quarter after more than a year in decline, reaching 82 percent, which is its highest level since the first quarter of 2012. Some of the most notable gains were made in nations with fast-growing economies such as Brazil and Russia (Brazil made the biggest gains this quarter, rising a full 10 percent). Though figures for the U.S. rose to 81 percent this past quarter, it didn’t rank among the Top 10 nations when it comes to customer satisfaction.

The results of the quarterly report are based on actual interactions between 16,000 participating companies and their customers. Zendesk’s benchmarking revealed that customer satisfaction is still highly stratified by the channel through which it’s conducted.

“As companies strive to provide an integrated customer experience across multiple channels, the report shows that the most traditional channel, phone or voice services, receives the highest level of satisfaction,” wrote the report’s authors. “Channels with 1:1 real-time interactions exhibit high levels of customer satisfaction while newer channels, like Twitter (News - Alert) and Facebook, rank last as companies experiment with best social support practices.”

There was also evidence that customer satisfaction rates can vary wildly depending on a host of factors. Variants such as the time of day, support channel, and customer tenure (how long the customer has been with a company) made a big difference. But overall, the quality of the interaction, from a customer’s perspective, was largely dependent on the speed of the transaction. There was evidence that a slow first response leads to lower satisfaction while speedy replies result in more successful customer service interactions.

It’s clear that the overriding trend today is the “omnichannel” customer who expects to be able to communicate with a company via a variety of channels to handle a single issue or problem and experience a seamless process.

“The omnichannel consumer is on the rise -- jumping from web to email to chat to Twitter with ease," said Sam Boonin, research lead for the Zendesk Benchmark and vice president of products at Zendesk. “The Zendesk Benchmark is uncovering that companies must maintain a consistent level of service for each channel.”

Contact centers have been handed their mandate. How quickly or how well they respond will be a sign of how much they value their customers.

Edited by Blaise McNamee