Bridging the customer experience disconnect
Understanding customer needs is central to delivering the service and experience they demand. But new research from Enghouse demonstrates a worrying disconnect between what customers actually want and what companies think they want. This customer experience gap could lead organisations to invest in the wrong areas, in turn, letting customers down and driving them into the arms of competitors.
The research, The Changing Landscape of Customer Communications, reveals three key disconnects between companies and their customers:
1. Gaps on channel choice and investment
Around a third (34%) of customers list email as their first choice for contacting companies, followed by web chat (30%) and phone (28%). This reflects a major change over the last two years. Before the pandemic, phone was the top choice (48%) followed by email (28%) and then chat (14%).
Looking to the future, the research suggests that in two years’ time, customers will want companies to offer new channels alongside those they already have. For example, 10% would like to have messaging apps and 11% want to see video chat with live agents.
However, companies are looking to reduce channels. While pre-pandemic they were providing on average 4.4 channels, they are now offering an average of 3.9. And they are heavily focused on offering phone (provided by 63%) and email (71%). Fewer companies (42%) are offering chat.
Another area where the data shows contrasting opinions is email and phone. While companies expect these channels to decline over the next two years, consumers still value them. Just 5% of companies are investing in messaging, despite 10% of consumers wanting to make contact through messaging apps.
2. Misunderstanding over the factors that make consumers buy
There’s significant disagreement about what triggers consumer purchases. Companies think the biggest influence on a customer’s buying decision is the quality of goods and services. But what consumers themselves look for is the ease of doing business and the price they are paying.
Similarly, 70% of customers say that being able to quickly access experts via the phone would help them get more value out of the customer experience. And 48% said the same for having more access to self-service. Yet just 13% of businesses are investing in self-service and just 6% on the phone channel.
The misalignment between companies and customers is particularly concerning as it has a direct bearing on three important areas:
- Where companies invest. For example, they might focus solely on their products rather than on making the customer journey easier – or put resources into the wrong channels.
- How companies structure customer service and resourcing decisions around particular channels.
- How they support customers on their journeys. For example, will they support web self-service?
3. Differing attitudes to sharing personal information
Being able to use people’s personal information is important for tailoring the customer experience and removing friction from the journey. Nearly four in ten (38%) of consumers said they were comfortable with organisations using their data if it helps them provide a better customer experience. However, a further 37% were uncomfortable sharing any personal data with organisations regardless of the benefit it gave them.
These polarised views mean it’s essential that companies understand differing levels of openness to data sharing. They need to be able to keep all customers happy, while looking to educate them about the benefits of sharing personal information and reassuring them on how it is being used. This is key to successfully building trust.
Closing the customer experience gap
Companies understand the importance of customer service and are increasing resources in the contact centre. 64% expect to increase their spending over the next two years. However, given the disconnects listed above one of the major concerns is that they’ll invest in the wrong areas for their customers, meaning they won’t reap the ROI or revenue benefits they are seeking.
To overcome these challenges companies need to start by listening to their customers to get an accurate understanding of their needs. This will not only help build greater trust but will ensure that they are future-proofing their service going forward, driving improvements that positively impact the bottom line.