Cellphone User

The case to move customer service online

Research suggests digital-only customer service means more customer satisfaction

Keeping your customers happy may be a matter of keeping them online: digital-only customer service produces 33% more customer satisfaction than more traditional means, according to McKinsey.

“E-care” still makes up a relatively small portion of consumer interactions, with most customers using a hybrid combination of digital and traditional means to seek answers to their questions or redress for their complaints:

McKinsey_E-Care-Customer-service

The global consultancy firm says existing systems ignore the preference that a majority of customers show for switching between types of communication: “They may start looking for an answer on the company’s website before switching to its mobile app, posting a comment or question via social media, and then finally turning to the call center if they have been unable to find an answer elsewhere. That’s why it’s critical to measure the multichannel effectiveness of e-care—something many companies still are not capable of doing.”

Good client management pays off: WestJet is the country’s favourite airline brand thanks in part to a playful social media presence and soothing service. Failing to meet customers’ expectations can have the opposite effect, rendering companies obsolete and undesirable in a world where every miffed customer is a PR disaster waiting to happen.

Many Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses pride themselves on superior customer service, relying on it to distinguish themselves from the competition. But too many companies treat social media and online forums as an optional extra, instead of a core part of their strategy for gaining and retaining customers. Emphasizing online customer care is also more economical than the phone-managed variety. (although a new generation of call centres is trying to close the experience gap, emphasizing happy employees and relationship-management technology to boost caller satisfaction.

As intelligent as automated systems are becoming, sometimes you just need a human voice to explain your problem to. So it’s unlikely that digital-only systems will replace traditional alternatives altogether. But with such significant satisfaction gap and cost factors in play, expect to do more of your consumer complaining online in the future.

This story originally appeared in Canadian Business.

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