A ‘First Take’ on the new CX Act Touchpoint Stress Test Study

May 28, 2014 By Crystal Collier

This post was guest-authored by Julie Diaz-Asper, Founding Partner/CEO, Social Lens Research.

Marketers are well aware that the cost to acquire a customer far exceeds the cost to retain a customer.  Bain & Company estimates the cost to acquire at almost 6 to 7 times of the cost to retain.

At the same time, the importance of “good” customer service to retaining a customer is also well accepted. A recent study by Zendesk showed 52% of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction

Given the strategic importance of a positive customer experience (CX), are top brands prioritizing delivering quality service?

And how does that vary by customer contact channel?

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The CX Act Touchpoint Stress Test study launched today examines just how well companies are doing in delivering high quality and consistent service across phone, email, online chat, and Facebook.

Social Lens Research conducted the study by recruiting a pool of existing customers to test responsiveness on day-to-day customer experience issues – such as billing questions, product issues, and general inquiries.

Fifty of the world’s most prominent brands in various marketplace categories were tested. They include airlines, auto manufacturers, financial, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, insurance, cable/internet, retailers, and supermarkets – all of which invest heavily in digital marketing. Customers followed a testing script asking them to document their experience in detail.

Top Findings:

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  • Phone outperformed all channels on issue resolution at 86%, but room for improvement exists with only 58% being very satisfied with the service.
  • Inconsistent customer experiences were the norm among the companies tested.  Even top performers on phone service struggled with other channels: satisfaction scores were low at 40% for online chat, 22% for email, and 17% for Facebook.
  • Only 20 of the 50 companies offered chat, and quality of service was mixed with 30% not getting issue resolved via chat.
  • Most companies were not able to resolve issues via email (only 44% resolved) or via Facebook (only 27% resolved).

Beyond the numbers, telling were the direct quotes from customers of the worst performing companies:

Phone: “I never interacted with a live phone rep, still waiting on a response to resolve my issue. It’s disappointing.”
Airline category

Online Chat: “It just sat spinning for over an hour. I have a brand new laptop that is less than a month old. My internet connection is working. It was during business hours. I never got through so it didn’t work. I’d suggest they fix it or dump it.”
Car Manufacturer category

Email: “Once I submitted the email asking to be contacted back via email, I still received a phone call from the representative wanting to handle the problem by phone, not email, even after I said I wanted to handle it via email so I had documented proof of the conversation. They made me feel my preferred way of handling the issue wasn’t welcomed or wanted.”
Major Bank category

Facebook: “I got no response. They only seem to interact with users that leave positive responses. Very annoying!”
Consumer Package Goods category

 The Bottom Line:

Many companies do NOT appear to be investing and prioritizing consistent and high quality customer service across channels based on the study results. Companies especially do not seem ready to offer high quality service via digital channels.

Given how quickly shopping and customer engagement is shifting to digital channels, this is a huge customer service gap.

The study findings clearly indicate that companies need to refocus efforts on the customer experience to avoid a negative impact on their bottom-line, as well as open the door to competitive threat.

So, what’s the right toolkit and fix for brands who suffer from digital CX issues? Stay tuned for a series of recommendations from the CX Act team in the days ahead.

Learn more about the study here.

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