Customers want good customer service, and don't like being passed between channels
On average, customers interact with four different channels when seeking customer service related enquiries from a business. The types of channels they use or expect to be able to use when contacting a business is changing too. Any marketer worth their salt knows that word of mouth and online reviews are some of the most critical channels for any business, and customer service is key to getting good results. Delivering good customer service now requires a presence across a range of channels, but in a way that allows them to be mutually supportive and helpful, rather than working at cross purposes. This isn't just a 'nice to have', it really is a must, given 97% of people say that customer service is important to their choice of brand. That's according to a study by Microsoft, which asked 4,000 people across the US, UK, Brazil and Japan (1,000 in each). Altogether a rather good sample size from a reputable source.
What are the most popular customer service channels?
As you can see the chart below shows that consumers are using a range of channels and it varies considerably between nations, although email does come top (just) in all but the US.
It's interesting to note that all five of the different channels analysed are relatively popular. Online portals are used by over half of users on average, whilst search engines are used for customer service related enquiries by half the people in the US and only slightly less than half in the UK and Brazil.
Where do the interactions start?
Although the telephone is a popular channel in all countries, the journey generally tends to start online. The UK leads the trends here with 64% starting their customer service interactions online.
Why it's critical to deliver omnichannel customer service
In all the countries surveyed but Japan, a considerable majority of people report switching brands because of a poor customer service experience, so leaving customers unsatisfied can lose you huge chunks of revenue.
It's clear that customers expect good customer service across a range of channels, and are willing to take their business elsewhere if they don't get it. Customers across different countries consistently rate 'being passed between agents' as the most frustrating aspect of customer service, so you shouldn't be basing one channels customer service approach around passing people on to another channel. If you want more insights into omnichannel customer service you can download the full report from Microsoft (But you have to give some details to download).