Stale fruitcake may not  be the most appetizing delicacy in the world.  But 37 percent of those surveyed by Aspect Software, a provider of call center management solutions, described eating fruitcake from last year as better than dealing with customer care during the holidays.

Is that the taste you want to leave in the mouths of your customers?


Unfortunately, in the real world, most people can't avoid customer service by downing a few mouthfuls of jellied fruits and hard cake. They'll actually have to deal with customer service, which 74 percent believe is more of a hassle during the year-end holidays than at any other time of the year. That assessment, the report noted drily, “may be hard to swallow for companies hoping for strong holiday sales.”

Channel Surfing

More customers are “channel-surfing” — that is, moving between customer care channels like email, live chat, social media, self-service web options and traditional phone calls — to find better service.

The phone, according to the report, is still the most popular channel, with 33 percent rating it the best channel during the holidays and 48 percent saying the same for the rest of the year. Face-to-face interaction and email were both rated the best option by 25 percent of those surveyed, while 15 percent chose online chats.

But 38 percent said they simply minimize the need to interact with customer care by giving cash.


From Aspect Software survey infographic on customer satisfaction.

Jim Freeze, chief marketing officer at Aspect Software, told CMSWire that consumers try non-phone channels more frequently during the holiday season, hoping to avoid long waits on the phone.

Learning Opportunities

But, he added, “since you have all these channels, customers have a high expectation that they should be integrated,” and provide the same data about you and your question across email, live chat or phone. Sounding a frequent Aspect theme, Freeze said customers have come to expect “a true omnichannel experience,” while companies have often implemented “multiple, disparate systems.”

Feeling Guilty?

Another recently published study about customer satisfaction and “the sad state of customer care in America” not only found a similar dissatisfaction with customer service, but also that the dissatisfaction rate has increased by 8 percent in the last four decades.

Many customers concede they have lost their tempers with customer service agents. But the Aspect survey noted that 20 percent of respondents felt guilty about doing so — almost as many as who feel guilty about “cutting someone off in traffic."

In addition to consistent experiences across channels, what do customers want? Ninety-one percent of respondents stated that customer service agents should be “more informed about current promotions” and better prepared for the holidays. But, like everything else during the holiday season, expectations are high. Thirty-six percent of respondents said their expectations for customer service are higher during the holidays and 18 percent said they contact customer service more during the holidays than during the rest of the year.

The survey was conducted for Aspect by TNS, which conducted an online survey of 2,500 American adults. Another survey on customer service will be released by Aspect early next year, at which point both surveys are expected to be available online.

Title image by Svetlana Foote (Shutterstock).