Customer service is now a key differentiator; 84% of consumers feel service is an afterthought, reveals survey

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, January 24, 2022, 08:03 PM IST
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Many customers would find the prospect of repeated visits undesirable, especially in the post-pandemic landscape when minimizing physical contact with strangers is a priority for all./Representative image |

Customer experience is the make or break factor for consumers making a determined choice. A whopping 94 percent of Indian consumers report making purchase decisions based on the quality of customer service they receive. If the customer service is faulty, the consumer loyalty to the brand is broken.

The global Zendesk Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report 2022 shows that a majority of Indian businesses surveyed (88 percent) agree that there is a direct link between customer service and business performance. Despite this, many Indian consumers (84 percent) feel like customer service is an afterthought for businesses, indicating a gap between consumer expectation and company actions.

Pandemic effect?

Customer expectations grew over the past year as 88 percent of Indian consumers say their customer service standards have increased over the last 12 months. CX is a determining factor for retention and loyalty as 85 percent of Indian customers are willing to switch brands after one bad experience. Indian businesses recognize the need for having a standout customer service team, with 61 percent saying that it has an impact on retention. It is perhaps why 65 percent of Indian companies expect funding for their customer service teams to rise by 25 percent in the next 12 months.

“Businesses cannot afford to take a transactional approach to their relationships with their customers. Customer service is now a key differentiator, but this year’s report reveals some gaps exist between expectation and delivery,” said Adrian McDermott, Chief Technology Officer, Zendesk. “Customers are noticing this gap and voting with their business - and that’s perhaps the clearest signal to businesses that change needs to happen, and fast.”

“Businesses need an institution-wide shift where investments into tools and processes that enhance CX become a priority. The insights are clear on the competitive advantage and scalability that Indian businesses can achieve through these investments. All that’s required now is for businesses to take action on these insights to unlock the returns that positive customer experiences can deliver,” said Vasudeva Rao Munnaluri, Regional Vice President India & SAARC, Zendesk.

Key insights

● 94 percent of Indian consumers say a positive customer service experience makes them more likely to make another purchase

● 99 percent of consumers are willing to spend more money on businesses that offer personalized and streamlined experiences

● 73 percent of Indian companies report having a three-year strategic plan for customer service

● 98 percent of Indian consumers say they are willing to spend more to buy from companies that offer them the chance to find the answers they need themselves

● Nearly half of Indian companies (46 percent) view CX as a revenue-generating engine for growth, while only 28 percent view CX as a cost centre.

The Agent X Factor

Increased expectations leads to increased pressure on agents, who act as the front line. In fact the research found that 90 percent of Indian organizations agree that customer service agents are essential to retaining customers.

Key insights

● 48 percent of Indian company leaders expect an increase in the amount of training offered to agents by a great extent

● 69 percent of Indian businesses expect to focus training their agents in providing service across multiple channels

● 68 percentof Indian companies plan to develop flexible work team to resolve specialized problems

Closing Gaps and Mapping Paths To Growth

Eight in ten Indian businesses view customer service as a critical business priority and only 29.5 percent report that it’s not owned by the C-suite. Indian businesses fared better in identifying customer service as a board-level priority compared to companies in Australia (44.9 percent), Japan (55.3 percent ), Singapore (40.3 percent and Korea (54.9 percent), where it is not owned by the C-suite.

Future hinges on AI and Conversational Experiences

Customers want on-demand service that's available when they need it. 100 percent of Indian customers surveyed say they are willing to spend money on businesses that offer them the freedom to communicate over whatever channel they choose and don’t want to waste valuable time getting agents up to speed on their order or issue.

Key insights:

● 90 percent of Indian customers expect AI to save time when contacting a company

● 88 percent of Indian customers expect AI to keep them from having to repeat themselves after contacting a company for support

● 87 percent of Indian customers expect a majority of customer service interactions to be automated at the same time increase the quality of service

This means that businesses looking to drive and sustain growth—both now and in the future—need to focus on two emerging customer service capabilities: artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, and conversational customer service. More than half (56 percent) of Indian business plan to speed up adoption of AI in customer service, while 43 percent have already implemented conversational customer service and 38 percent plan to implement it in the future.

“The business case for customer service is clearer than ever and getting buy-in from the top is a critical first step. Getting this engagement relies on evolving the key metrics - look beyond CSAT and identify the broader business impact that can tell a compelling story,” McDermott said. “This year’s findings bring into sharp focus the need for there to be a more concerted effort across the organization - including better integration of systems and a regular review of metrics. In short, let the insights lead you."

Methodology: The report draws on input from customers, agents, customer service leaders, and business leaders from across 21 countries. Data was also gathered from more than 97,500 Zendesk customers who participated in the company’s Benchmark program.

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