The Customer Experience - How Bad Are Things Today?

I’d be shocked if you don’t identify with the story I’m about to tell you. It’s a tale of frustration, wasted time and dwindling customer loyalty. From speaking to many people, I know it’s not an uncommon experience.  

Let’s say you are a long-time customer of a large cable/internet/phone provider. You’ve had a simple service question for a while and it’s a Saturday morning, so you try giving them a call. First you go to their website. Their phone number isn’t readily apparent but thankfully they have a Chat Support service on the site. You click on that, are put in a queue, and are promptly warned that “wait times are longer than usual” – but you hang in there.
After 30 minutes you finally speak to an agent who asks for your personal/account information (which you’ve already provided by logging into the chat). You re-tell the customer service agent a longer version of what you already typed in the chat to start your service ticket. You are informed that you’ve reached the cable department but that you need to speak to the Internet department. And now comes the dreaded transfer – where you will wait some more and have to repeat everything you’ve just communicated.
After you waste more time waiting, potentially a few more transfers and wondering why you can’t just answer your own question by looking it up in a knowledge base, you finally reach the right department. Where, once there, you have a 50% chance of your issue actually being addressed and solved *.
Sound familiar? Very likely. Unfortunately, this is the sad state of the customer service experience today.
Let’s identify the problems I’ve just presented:
  1. You had an issue and had to call your provider rather than them contact you or solve it themselves, proactively (before it became a problem for you).
  2. Their contact info wasn’t easy to find.
  3. They don’t have your preferred method of support (In this case, to try solving the issue yourself via a knowledge base).
  4. Long wait times in a queue without self-service options.
  5. Lack of continuity.  Once you are logged in, your information and case history should be easily available.
  6. Silos – different departments doing things differently and having to re-enter your information and story multiple times.
  7. Extended wait times because of  failed routing processes or transfers.
What does this mean for you as a customer? A whole lot of wasted time, increased frustration and the desire to never go through the experience again  – even if that means you live with unresolved problems in the future. Eventually, when the frustration levels get too high – you jump to another provider.
For the provider, this means a loss customer loyalty, customer churn and a bad reputation in the marketplace.
A 2016 customer service study found that 66% of customers who had problems with products or services reported experiencing rage, and only 17% of those customers were satisfied with the action taken to resolve their most serious problems.** These are astounding numbers – especially in today’s age of convenience.  We live in a world where digital transformations have changed our lives – so much so that we have become accustomed to getting what we want immediately.
As consumers, we have groceries or meals delivered in minutes.  We have entertainment streamed in real-time to our devices, anytime, anywhere.
As businesses, the same holds true. A vast majority of businesses today function in an ‘as-a-Service’ model.  Meaning, you purchase their product or service, turn it on, and expect it to work. And if there is a setup process, you expect that roll-out experience to be simple and fluid.
But what happens when expectations aren’t met?  What if the customer experience doesn’t live up to expectations? That’s where customer service becomes all important… yet seems to be failing. 
But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Stay tuned for CSM Part 2 – The Future of Customer Experience where we will discuss the emerging Customer Service Management era – where businesses are equipped to deliver the kind of positive service experience consumers expect.
For more information on the challenges of providing a great customer service experience, download our free eBook An Introduction to Proactive Customer Service’ or contact Fully Managed with any questions you might have.

* Past studies show that customer service agents fail to answer consumers’ questions 50% of the time - Eptica, "Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study," 2015.
** Forrester, "Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service," 2016.