A new report from Zendesk takes a closer look at some of the many factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction.
What it found is that good customer service is universal. No matter what country you're in, when you shopping or how you engage with a company, there are a few universal factors that are bound to influence your experience.
The Zendesk Benchmark report examined first reply time, support channels and customer tenure to measure the health of customer service, as well as identify how companies provide support and how consumers receive it across a variety of countries. The report also highlights customer service trends across industries.
Globally, IT-related services and consultancy edged out government and non-profit for the highest customer satisfaction ratings. Education came in third. According to the report, all three industries scored high with customer satisfaction and typically outperformed the overall average. But if you're keeping track, this shouldn't come as a surprise — these industries have been the top performers for the past three quarters.
So why IT? IT services and consultancy companies are generally high-touch businesses with a major focus on customer care, compared to government, nonprofit organizations, and education, which have shifted to respond to increased competition and rising expectations of consumers.
Media, telecommunications and social media have also begun to make a comeback, after lagging in customer service satisfaction since the second quarter last year.
What country has the highest rate of customer satisfaction? Why, Canada, of course. The Great White North beat out Australia by less than 1 percentage point. It's no surprise that both countries have been consistent leaders in customer satisfaction. They have dominated the top spots for some time now.
What is somewhat more surprising are the countries that came in third and fourth. Russia, which has typically struggled with customer satisfaction but has been steadily gaining ground in the past year, broke the 90 percent barrier for the first time since the creation of the Zendesk Benchmark to emerge in third place. Norway came in fourth.
First Reply Times
To determine these outcomes, Zendesk's data showed that there was a relationship between the amount of time it took to reply to a customer inquiry and the level of customer satisfaction — that is, the less time it takes, the more satisfied the customer.
The report grouped tickets by the hour they were submitted and then looked at average first reply times (FRT). Tickets submitted outside of normal business hours have the slowest FRT, as would be expected. However, when tickets are submitted around 9 a.m., response times speed up, with FRT peaking around 6 p.m. when much of the support staff leaves for the day and non-urgent tickets may have to wait 12 to 14 hours before the next fully staffed shift begins and agents start tackling the backlog.
For many companies, providing customer service across multiple channels has become more and more important to servicing a global audience. Still, most companies struggle to provide consistently great service for every channel. According to Zendesk, providing an integrated experience across all the various channels is the ultimate omnichannel challenge that virtually all businesses are facing and the data support this.
Phone or other Internet telephony services are the most traditional channel and enjoy the highest levels of customer satisfaction, while online chat has the second-highest customer satisfaction rate. Both of these highlight the efficacy of one-to-one real-time interactions between agents and customers, which likely contributed to their higher levels of satisfaction. Despite their prevalence, Facebook and Twitter didn't rate as well, perhaps because many businesses are still experimenting with how to best support customers via social channels.
The report examined if the amount of time that a customer has been interacting with a company is a big predictor of their likely customer satisfaction. To measure customer tenure, Zendesk examined how long a customer has been a user. Taking the long view, it was hypothesized that being a long-time customer generally leads to higher satisfaction. However, the report uncovered that customer satisfaction by customer tenure showed customers experience dips and peaks throughout their customer service journeys, and vary widely by industry.
A Global CXM Movement
Reports like these serve as a reminder that achieving customer satisfaction is everyone's goal, regardless of industry or country. When it comes to getting questions answered in a timely fashion, on a preferred channel, there are no cultural boundaries. Whether you're in Montreal or Moscow, Stavanger or Sydney, good customer service is dependent upon the same factors.
But don't think we didn't notice that for a global survey the United States remained elusive. It was, indeed, included in the survey and was ranked eleventh with 83 percent customer satisfaction — ahead of Brazil and France.
Overall, it is clear there is much more that can be done to improve customer service. The marketplace is global and that means that customers don't care about time zones when seeking answers. Furthermore, they're more likely to seek help through channels that are most convenient. To talk with a customer service represent doesn't mean relying on traditional landlines. Rather, it means investing in a variety of voice communications and multimedia internet sessions to better facilitate one-to-one interactions and engagement. The sooner companies can leverage these resources, the sooner they will improve customers satisfaction.
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