New research by European tech firm Eptica has revealed that UK brands are struggling to cope with the rising volume of queries and growing consumer expectations.
Out of 100 UK companies surveyed, only 44% could answer routine questions asked on the web, email, Twitter and Facebook – down from 49% in 2016.
Social media saw the biggest fall, potentially driven by its increasing use by consumers as a customer service channel. Just 34% of tweets and 35% of Facebook messages received a successful answer, despite 94% of companies advertising their Twitter handles, and 89% having Facebook pages. Performance has dropped substantially – in 2016 48% of tweets and 45% of Facebook messages received an accurate response.
The Eptica Multichannel Customer Conversation Study evaluated 100 leading UK brands from the insurance, banking, travel, telecoms, utility, electronics manufacturing, fashion, consumer electronics retail, food and drink retail and entertainment sectors, on their ability to provide answers to ten routine questions posed via the web – as well as their speed, and accuracy when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat.
“Brands today face a growing challenge when it comes to customer experience,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and co-founder at Eptica. “Consumers are ever-more demanding, and expect fast, high quality and informed conversations with brands if they are to remain loyal. However, our research shows that many brands are finding it difficult to cope with the sheer volume of queries they receive, particularly on social media. Failure to dedicate sufficient resources to customer experience, or to deploy new technologies such as artificial intelligence to support staff will ultimately hit the bottom line, as consumers switch to rivals who offer them the service they demand.”
The research uncovered growing gaps between the best and worst performers, both within specific sectors and also between different types of company. One food and drink retailer responded to an email in one hour and 32 minutes – yet another took over seven days to answer exactly the same query. A utility company answered a tweet in two minutes, far faster than a rival that took six days. Overall consumer electronics retail was the best-performing sector, answering 67% of all queries on the web, email and social media, with utilities trailing far behind with just 33% queries answered.
Customers have increasingly complex questions, and want higher quality, personalised service from brands. Recognising this, for the first time the research measured the quality of responses for email, social media and chat, across six sectors, based on their speed, relevance, context, personalisation and empathy. This found that overall channel quality scores ranged from 57% (chat) to 68% (Facebook). Speed scored highest (69%), well ahead of context (60%) and empathy (59%).
The study evaluated 100 UK brands, split equally between the insurance, banking, travel, telecoms, utility, electronics manufacturing, fashion, consumer electronics retail, food and drink retail and entertainment sectors, analysing the speed, relevance and quality of their responses to routine customer queries via the web, email, chat, Facebook and Twitter. Research was completed in Q3 2017.
A full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform customer experience is available at https://www.eptica.com/pcx17.
An infographic on the results is available at https://www.eptica.com/infographic-eptica-multichannel-customer-conversation-study-2017.