Rosemont, IL - June 16, 2015 -- More than half of consumers have to engage with companies on more than one channel to get a customer service-related issue resolved, according to a new survey conducted by management consulting firm The Northridge Group. Additionally, one-fifth of consumers have to use three or more channels when pursuing the same goal.
Based on a survey of more than 1,000 respondents, the study found that consumers use different channels for different issues. More than three-quarters of consumers use the phone for urgent issues, more than any other channel. Conversely, more than twice as many consumers use social media for comments, questions and complaints rather than problem resolution. Since most consumers are using different channels for different purposes, brands should tailor their customer service experience efforts to each channel.
According to Daren Moore, President of The Northridge Group, customers' omnichannel preferences are of increasing importance, since 47 percent of consumers plan to use social media for customer service issues the same or more next year than they currently do.
"Customers use each service channel differently," said Moore. "The onus is on companies to meet their customers on their channel of choice. A truly omni-channel customer service experience provides a consistent and seamless flow throughout all channels."
Of all customer service channels, social media has the lowest percentage of issue resolution and follow-up, at 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Similarly, the survey found that only 13 percent of consumers get a response within minutes despite the inherent immediacy of social media. Two-thirds of consumers said the phone is the fastest channel for issue resolution followed by at a distant second by online chat (15 percent) and then email (10 percent).
According to Therese Fauerbach, CEO of The Northridge Group, this data underscores that companies should not view customer service channels as competitive nor discrete. Instead, they should complement one another to deliver the most robust and responsive customer service strategy possible.
"Social media is not expected to replace the phone for customer service issues and inquiries today," said Fauerbach. "However, the way consumers are using social media to share brand experiences tells us that this evolving channel is a critical component of a holistic customer service experience strategy. It lends itself well to being a customer listening and proactive engagement tool."
Additional findings from the survey include:
- Only 2 percent of consumers use social media for urgent customer service issues
- Thirty-eight percent of consumers use social media to share positive feedback about a brand frequently compared to just 26 percent of consumers who share critical feedback frequently
- Twenty-six percent of consumers turn to social media when they can't reach a representative through another channel
In the survey, consumers were asked to provide feedback on customer service experiences via various channels including social media, phone, email, web self-service, mobile app self-service, letter, online chat and text message. The survey results have a margin of error of 3 percent.
To download the full report, please click here.
About The Northridge Group
The Northridge Group is a leading management consulting firm specializing in customer experience solutions and business transformation initiatives, utilizing advanced data analytics and business process redesign to deliver results. Founded in 1999, the firm serves clients in the healthcare, telecom, financial services, retail, travel and transportation industries. Using a holistic approach to problem-solving, Northridge provides services for the Fortune 200 and key government agencies at the federal, state and local level.