How much time would you expect it takes to resolve a typical problem that requires a call to a customer service helpline? Of course it depends on the complexity of the problem, but in new research that surveyed 3,000 consumers across Europe (over 1,000 in the UK) the expectation was around 14.5 minutes.
That’s what people were hoping for. The reality in the UK is that the average time to resolve a problem is nine hours.
This same survey asked the respondents directly what they would do if they were shopping online and the service they received was below what they expected – 82% immediately said they would shop elsewhere.
Some of the other feedback from this research is astonishing:
- Nearly half (47%) of consumers say they have been prevented from making an online purchase due to the help section of the website not providing them with the information they need.
- 67% believe that customer service matters just as much as product quality.
- 42% say that help sites infrequently provide the answers they are looking for with their first search.
- Respondents reported the biggest challenges as the help site not understanding their question (61%), delivering unrelated search results (50%), providing out of date or inaccurate information (33%) or being difficult to use (26%).
It is hard to know where to start, but here is what I take from this survey.
- Customers really value good service. They want companies to provide them with good products and support them with great service too – it’s symbiotic. You can’t deliver great products and then offer poor service.
- Customers are not loyal. They don’t have much patience. If you put obstacles in their way when they are trying to make a purchase or to find information, then they will move to a rival rather than trying to figure it out on your app or website.
- Finding information is the key. One of the most overlooked aspects of great service is simply being able to find the information that the customer needs.
This survey sounds extreme, but the description suggests that they have taken care to ensure a broad range of demographic, gender, and geographies. Perhaps it really does reflect a reality for some consumers.
If your service is so bad that customers don’t see their question answered for many hours then I’d suggest one immediate fix – make it easy for the customer to find answers.
Search your customer service records. Find the most common twenty or thirty problems. Write them up as question and answer cards. Post that information on your website in a visible and easy to access way. You can also post it on trusted third party sites, such as creating short video versions of the answers and posting them on YouTube.
This is also an ideal project where you can pilot a generative AI solution, such as ChatGPT or Kore.ai. Why not add all those common questions with their solutions into a chatbot that can automatically create answers based on that information?
It’s clear from this survey that one of the biggest frustrations these consumers face is that they just can’t find the information. They are looking on the company website and then searching with Google. When nothing works, they get frustrated and start firing off emails and calling.
All this frustration and call volume can all be avoided if you just make it simple for the customer to find the right information – so they can resolve their issue before waiting nine hours for someone else to do it.