No matter where companies choose to focus their efforts, all roads lead to customer service. Customer service stands at the center of every business across every industry, for it's these service representatives who interact with customers each day, solving problems, cultivating loyalty, and building relationships. However, many companies continue to struggle with their customer service efforts, often investing very little in the initiatives designed to improve the customer experience.
ASQ recently polled more than 600 quality and customer service professionals worldwide to explore the customer service challenges facing businesses today. Unfortunately, many companies don't see their customer service department as a priority, leaving customer service professionals to grapple with numerous unique challenges. Overall, 29 percent of respondents ranked managing customer expectations as their number one obstacle, while 20 percent said communicating with customers was their primary challenge.
The following statistics explore the world of customer service even further, highlighting trends and challenges facing companies worldwide:
- Sixteen percent of respondents say educating customers about products and services was their biggest hurdle, 13 percent say providing customers with timely service was their primary challenge, and 12 percent say training and retaining good staff was their main obstacle.
- The most common customer complaints include long waits (25 percent), lack of clear communication (20 percent), and errors or inaccuracies (17 percent).
- Fifty-four percent of participants say they resolve more than 50 percent of customer quality issues within a reasonable timeframe as set by the organization. However, 12 percent don't have an established timeframe for resolving issues, and 14 percent don't measure customer issue resolution at all.
- To understand their customers better, companies must implement ways to measure customer satisfaction on a constant basis. The most common methods of measurement include customer satisfaction surveys (75 percent), voice of the customer programs (48 percent), focus groups (21 percent), and technology that allows them to quantify customer needs, expectations, and satisfaction (20 percent).
- Only 4 percent of respondents rank customer service initiatives as their top priority, while 38 percent focus their investments on new product or service development. Eighteen percent of respondents focus on information technology improvements, while 13 percent invest in marketing and advertising.
- Of those polled, 36 percent have not created a management level customer service position to help manage the customer service experience and 28 percent say service is managed through the customer service department, while 20 percent include customer service management as part of their quality department.
Key takeaway: Customer service can make or break the customer experience. If companies hope to gain even just a small sampling of customer insight, they must look no further than their vocal complainers. Customers who are willing to point out the company's failings actually perform an invaluable service, as they speak for most dissatisfied customers. These complaints, if embraced, may act as stepping-stones toward developing and enhancing the company's current customer service experience.