UK brands struggling with digital customer experience
The rapid rise of digital channels and mobile devices means it’s easier than ever for consumers to engage and ask questions of brands they want to do business with. But many companies – and even whole industry sectors - are struggling to cope with the sheer volume of customer contacts and queries. That’s one of the main conclusions of the 2017 Eptica Multichannel Customer Conversation Study.
Our annual UK study, which we’ve been conducting since 2012, evaluates real-world online customer experience. We ask 100 leading companies from a variety of industry sectors typical customer questions over the web, email, Twitter, Facebook and chat and analyse their ability to deliver fast, accurate and consistent answers.
You can see a snapshot of the results in this infographic. Six key takeaways from this year’s research are:
1. Overall performance is worsening
Companies could only answer 44% of routine questions asked on the web, email, Twitter and Facebook, down from 49% in 2016. This was despite the fact that generally the same brands were being asked the same questions, on the same channels as in last year. While performance on the web, email and chat improved, this was more than cancelled out by a drop in performance on social media.
2. The number of social interactions is impacting performance
Over half of Britons are now on Facebook (78% use it regularly) and around 5 million tweets are shared every day on Twitter. With people spending so much time on these sites, it’s only natural that they find it convenient to use them to interact with brands. But the research shows that many businesses are struggling to manage this explosion of social interactions, affecting how accurate their responses are. This year only 34% of tweets and 35%
of Facebook messages were answered successfully, compared to 48% and 45% in 2016
3. When brands do reply, they’re doing it faster
While companies are finding it difficult to respond to the volume of queries, when they do answer, they are more rapid. The average speed of response on Facebook, email and chat all improved dramatically:
- On Facebook the response time dropped from 8 hours 37 minutes in 2016 to 3 hours 25 minutes in 2017
- On chat the average went down from 7 minutes 40 seconds last year to 2 minutes 14 seconds this year
The improved speed of response is very welcome but the fact that fewer queries are being answered suggests many messages are still being lost or ignored.
4. Chat is now a mainstream channel
65% of consumers are happier using chat now than five years ago, a fact mirrored by nearly half (49%) of companies advertising chat facility on their website (up from just 13% in 2014). But despite this, less than half of the brands who said they offered chat, actually had it working when evaluated. This disappoints and annoys consumers, and directly impacts the customer journey and ongoing loyalty.
5. Differences between sectors continue
Consumers all know what it feels like when a brand delivers an excellent digital experience. And they keep that in mind when dealing with other brands – even if they are in a different sector. But many firms are struggling to hit the highs consumers now expect - with wide differences in the experience being delivered by different sectors. For example, while electronics retailers successfully answered 67% of customer queries by email, social media and the web, electronics manufacturers could answer just 29%.
6. CX followers can’t keep up with the leaders
Even within the same sector there are big differences between leaders and followers.
In food and drink one top performing company answered 90% of questions on the web, but another could only score 10%. In electronics retailing, one super-responsive business replied to a consumer query on Facebook within 3 minutes on Facebook, while another took close to 29 hours. Consumer expectations are rising, meaning companies that can’t provide fast, accurate answers will lose out.
With rising consumer expectations, multiple channels and more interactions, brands need to focus on 5 areas:
1. Use web self-service, chatbots and other AI-based technologies to automate basic interactions.
2. Empower agents so they can handle complex queries and provide empathy and personal service where required.
3. Resource chat effectively to give consumers the real-time conversations that they demand.
4. Share knowledge and resources across channels to boost efficiency, consistency and get back to customers even faster.
5. Benchmark against the top performing customer experience leaders in your own and other sectors. Your customers will expect nothing less.
To find out more about the 2017 Eptica UK Multichannel Customer Conversation Study, download the full management report here.
The findings of the report will also be discussed in a forthcoming webinar, UK Brands and Digital Customer Experience in 2017, with CX expert Martin Hill-Wilson on 23rd November 2017 at 12 noon GMT. Click here to register for the webinar.