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Insights

Research Reveals 3 Non-Negotiable Customer Service Expectations

Erin Ollila
October 15, 2019

3 minute read

What works for one customer may fail for another. That’s one of the most prominent insights from the “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” research study completed by Oracle in partnership with Jeanne Bliss, which finds that the customer service journey isn’t universal.

Yet, service departments shoulder the responsibility for providing answers, offering assistance, and fielding complaints from an array of consumers. The only way they can do their jobs the best — and create a stellar customer experience at the same time — is by understanding what their customers expect from their interactions with service departments.

While the journey might look different for all consumers, there are 3 expectations brands need to be aware of to meet the needs of their customers.

Customer service is not a straight path

In the past, if consumers needed help, there were two clear routes to a resolution. First, they could travel to the store and speak with a salesperson or manager in person, or they could pick up the telephone and call the company directly.

Now, there’s a myriad of ways consumers receive service. The study found that while 33% of respondents still use the phone as their first method of interaction, the majority uses other means, such as accessing help via live digital chat or finding the answers themselves online. In fact, some respondents were savvy enough to take multiple routes to get to a resolution quickest, such as talking with live chat while watching YouTube videos to find the answer for themselves. To meet expectations, smart brands make themselves available through all channels, so consumers can choose how they’ll reach out.

Human interaction is a given expectation

Whatever you do, don’t automate everything. Consumers expect swift responses to their service requests, and while messenger bots or smart content help provide that, these tools lack in one area: they are not human.

According to the study, 60% of consumers want to interact with a human when they reach out to customer service. That person-to-person connection is still vital for resolving issues, regardless of whether it happens in person, on the phone, or via a virtual chatbot.

Age affects opinions about customer service

To provide the best customer experience, first consider how your customer feels before they contact service. Quite often, conversation revolves around a consumer’s needs, and less so about how they feel — but that’s just as important. If the customer leads with anxiety or frustration, service reps will first have to mitigate those feelings before providing a solution, an extra effort that delays experience improvement.

But how can a brand determine how consumers feel about customer service? Turns out, age has a lot to do with it. 44% of Gen Zers, the youngest group of respondents, reported that service interactions were “very satisfying, like the feeling you get after solving a tough problem.” This may be because this group first searches the internet themselves for an answer, so following up with service reps provides them with an immediate answer they couldn’t find on their own.

Baby Boomers, however, don’t feel as positive about their customer service interactions. One-third of respondents describe contacting service departments to be akin to “stubbing their toe” or a trip to the dentist.

However, there may be a way to sway their opinions before contacting service: personalization. Only 15 percent of respondents expect a personalized experience from brands; yet 68 percent would prefer one tailored to their individual needs.

Smart businesses provide a connected experience for their consumers by understanding they’re coming to them with different needs, feelings, and through different channels for help. By being available, and swift with a response, brands can help their buyers feel less like they’re stubbing their toe, and more like they’re getting a resolution.

Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. After a 12+ year career in human resources, she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media.
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