Quick, easy and personalised service is vital in securing customer loyalty.
A large-scale study of more than 18 000 consumers in nine countries, published by Verint Systems in partnership with analyst and consultancy firm Ovum and UK-based research company Opinium, uncovers deep divisions over attitudes to how personal data is used to deliver this service.
The research finds that, while just about all respondents (94%) in South Africa agreed that good service makes them feel more positive about brands, two-thirds (59%) also said they are suspicious about how their data is used.
In addition, 54% of South African consumers felt that customer service was more of a transactional relationship than personal and 46% think that customer service is an experience that should reflect them as a person. They were less concerned about companies knowing their mood and responding accordingly (15%), and more concerned about getting their questions answered (85%). A significant number (59%) said mistakes make them think about switching.
“This study is a wake-up call for brands looking to revamp their customer service to cater today’s more demanding and better-informed customers,” says Jeremy Cox, principal analyst: customer engagement at Ovum. “While brands have the ability to precision-target highly personalised communications for every single customer, the study shows what people around the world actually value most are the basics – questions answered with minimal effort on their part.
“Brands therefore have a fine balance to strike between the customised and impersonal service they deliver,” he adds. “Customers expect to be recognised, but will have adverse reactions if they feel stalked.”
This study also explored the impact of poor service on switching behaviour, as well as the benefits brands can reap if they get it right. Though cheaper pricing is the single biggest motivation for switching (24%), rude staff (18%) and too much effort to get what they need (13%) are second and third on the list.
The research also found that good experiences can have a powerful impact on customers’ attitudes to brands. In fact, 79% of respondents said they would tell friends and family about their experiences, while half (49%) would write positive reviews. Also, 46% will renew or upgrade products and services even if it wasn’t the cheapest option.
“The rules of customer engagement have less to do with personalisation at all costs, and everything to do with making life easier for people,” comments Rachel Lane, director: voice of the customer analytics EMEA for Verint. “On the whole, consumers have no patience with firms that don’t get the basics right. This is a challenge for providers and an opportunity to help ensure frontline staff have information at their fingertips to deliver a quick and seamless service relevant to each customer’s individual needs. Staff should be empowered to make decisions and ‘go the extra mile’ when required.”