The three top countries for customer service may not be the ones you expect. According to a new report from Zendesk, a cloud-based customer service platform provider, New Zealand, Canada and Norway know how to keep customers satisfied.

The just released Zendesk Benchmark Q1 report is one in a series since March of 2012. The previous report ranked Norway, Canada and Denmark as the top countries for customer service.

Sam Boonin, vice president of products at Zendesk, told CMSWire the report is based on 40,000 companies that use Zendesk for customer service. The data focuses on customer support efficiency, self-service behavior and levels of customer engagement.

Higher Volume in the US

sam boonin

The United States ranks 15th on the list. The US, which generates about 44 percent of Zendesk's annual revenue, ranks just ahead of Germany and France and just behind Chile and the Netherlands.

Boonin theorized that the relatively low rating could be a result of a "much higher support volume" here. American companies tend to be somewhat overwhelmed by the volume of customer service inquires.

In fact, volume was a culprit behind the slip in customer satisfaction in Zendesk's Q4 report.

Another possibility: since customers in the US have lived with technology-based customer service longer than some other countries, they may expect better customer service.

In any event, the report's data indicates overall customer satisfaction has improved by one percent in the first quarter, climbing to 81 percent globally. The Zendesk-based data, though, is on a different trajectory different from other reports, which have found falling customer satisfaction. Of course, the Zendesk report is based on Zendesk-based interaction, so it does not cover the entire world of customer service.

The top two industries in the report, for the third consecutive quarter, are government/non-profit and IT services/consultancy, with 95 percent and 94 percent satisfaction rates, respectively. Education and real estate tend to alternate for third pace, with education scoring that spot for this edition.

Some Best Practices

Although the report is numbers-based, there are some qualitative observations that could be relevant for many businesses. European holiday home renting service HappyHome, for instance, makes a point to have a Customer Quality manager check every customer satisfaction survey, and its procedures and agent training are modified accordingly.

Liftopia, which sells ski lift tickets in North America, makes sure its cancellation policy is clear in the buying process because it has to spend so much time denying change requests. Even so, change requests at Liftopia are handled by a special support team.

HappyHome's customer service score rose from 89 percent to 93 percent this quarter over the fourth quarter of 2013, and Liftopia's went to 83 percent from 81 percent.


From the Zendesk Q1 report

Another important best practice, which this Zendesk report emphasized: companies that measure and analyze their customer service performance do better, based on those that have enabled analytics in Zendesk.

Metrics for looking at the most analytical companies included customer satisfaction and contributing factors, such as how long it took an agent to respond, how long it took for full resolution, and the percentage of tickets that could be resolved with one interaction. The high analytics usage group, based on monthly dashboard views, showed 1.6 percent higher satisfaction ratings, 12 percent lower first reply times, 16 percent lower full resolution times and a 4.4 percent higher percentage of single-resolution responses.

Zendesk's Boonin quoted management guru Peter Drucker, who said, "what is measured, improves."`