How good is the experience offered by UK brands?
Over the past five years Eptica has regularly evaluated the multichannel customer experience offered by 100 of the UK’s biggest brands, across ten sectors. To do this we’ve posed as prospective customers, testing how easy it is to find information and answers to the routine questions that consumers might ask every day on the web and via email, chat and social media.
Since we began, the importance of the customer experience, to both consumers and businesses, has increased dramatically. Back in 2014 in a survey by Gartner, 89% of companies predicted that in 2016 they would be competing mostly on the customer experience they offered.
This year’s Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study has just been published, so how are brands faring in 2016?
In a nutshell, the findings paint a picture of inconsistency. UK brands are struggling to deliver a high quality customer experience across all the channels that consumers demand. Companies that excel on one channel, fail to respond at all on others, while response times for many organisations have moved from minutes and hours to days and weeks. Some companies are moving ahead when it comes to the service they deliver, while others are lagging badly.
Email is falling behind social media when it comes to customer service, with UK brands answering just 38% of emailed questions. In comparison, Twitter had a 48% success rate and Facebookanswered 44% of queries, making them both more accurate and faster at delivering responses. Overall, across email, the web and Twitter, brands were only able to correctly answer 51% of questions that were put to them.
Channel by channel breakdown
As in previous years, company websites are the strongest channel for customer service, with companies successfully answering 66% of questions on average, up 2% from last year. Yet this improvement masked a yawning chasm between best and worst. 11% of companies scored 100%, yet 10% scored only 30% or under.
The email channel has become slower, less accurate and less available. The number of companies that made email available to non-customers decreased by 10% in 2015 and the average time taken to answer emails increased by nearly 5 hours, up to 34 hours 15 minutes. Again, there were major differences between industries. Not one consumer electronics manufacturer provided a successful answer (one email address actually bounced!), but 8 out of 10 insurers responded accurately. One company responded to an email within 3 minutes – another took over 6 days.
For consumers looking for a response to their queries, the best option is to turn to social media. Twitter and Facebook were both significantly faster and more accurate than email, even if neither were able to answer more than half of questions asked. 48% of companies responded successfully on Twitter, with an average time of 4 hours 14 minutes, double the speed of last year, while Facebook (surveyed for the first time this year) was both less accurate (44% success rate) and significantly slower on average, at 8 hours 37 minutes.
More companies have implemented web chat but the majority are not providing the resources the channel requires. In 2015 26% of companies claimed to offer chat though just 8% of companies had it working when tested. This year saw a major growth in those advertising chat (44%), even if just 16% had it available when surveyed. We found that the performance of those offering chat has actually deteriorated, with 75% of companies with working chat successfully answering the question, down from 89% in 2015.
Consistency and multichannel service was also poor. Only one business answered on email, chat, Twitter and Facebook, and 69% failed to provide responses that matched across more than one channel. In fact 22% didn’t respond at all on any of the four channels above.
In future blog posts we’ll go into more detail on the findings around specific channels and individual sectors, as well as provide analysis of the factors driving business performance andcompare the results with similar studies in other countries.