For most consumers, customer service experiences highlight the true character of any given brand. Those companies that offer seamless, easy assistance are considered customer-centric, while those that neglect to meet expectations are perceived as disorganized failures. Regardless, customer service has become the prime enabler of loyalty, as satisfaction often hinges on these very interactions.
Aspect Software's recent Customer Experience Index explores the differing attitudes and behaviors across generations to gauge which elements are essential for lasting satisfaction and loyalty. Conducted in partnership with The Center for Generational Kinetics, the survey polled 1,060 Americans age 18-65 to assess how every demographic-Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers-prefers to engage with customer service contact channels within the context of omnichannel interaction management and workforce optimization.
The following statistics reveal the current sentiment behind the average customer service interaction and what consumers truly want from these unwelcome, though often necessary, brand experiences:
- On average, respondents interact with customer service agents or customer service technology 5.41 times each month. However, 32 percent of all Americans would rather clean their toilets than interact with customer service agents over the phone.
- Though most participants currently use online (45 percent), phone (29 percent), and email (14 percent) to contact customer service, Americans are increasingly open to chat (250 percent), text (367 percent), and social media (900 percent) options.
- While 74 percent of all respondents believe customer service should be available via an array of communication channels, 64 percent agree that customer service should be able to seamlessly guide them from one contact channel to another. However, 37 percent of Millennial respondents would prefer to conduct all customer service interactions online, thereby avoiding all human contact unless absolutely necessary.
- Thirty-nine percent of all respondents claim their smartphone is more important to them than their computer, with 35 percent regularly using their smartphone to pay for items. Millennials, in particular, would be "truly satisfied" if they could connect with companies via text. Overall, 30 percent of Americans would contact companies more frequently if they could text their queries.
- Overall, 73 percent of those surveyed want the online tools and resources necessary to self-serve and resolve their own issues, as 59 percent typically choose to deal with problems on their own.
- Sixty-one percent of all respondents would consider sharing their good customer experience over social media if given the right tools.
- Government (24 percent), telcos (19 percent), and healthcare (10 percent) frequently offer the worst customer service experiences, as many consider these interactions to be "excruciatingly horrible" and "a good way to punish yourself or others." Long wait times and disorganization top the list of frequent service complaints for each sector.
Key takeaway: According to 76 percent of Americans, customer experience remains the true test of how important they are to the company or organization in question. Thus, nearly 70 percent of all respondents are more loyal toward brands that make them feel known when they contact customer service, as expectations have grown for 55 percent of those polled within the last three years. In fact, 55 percent of Americans have also stopped shopping or using the services of at least one brand over the past year due to poor customer experience. Just as consumers seek value from the companies with which they conduct business, these individuals also wish to be valued by those very organizations. Value comes in numerous shapes and sizes, and how service agents treat customers falls under that umbrella. Consumers also seek brands that recognize and embrace their channel preferences, as this carries value on an entirely different level. Ultimately, consumers just want to be heard, for successful service-and the resulting satisfaction levels-depend upon the given company's willingness and ability to listen and accommodate.