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An inevitable consequence of the push to achieve sales through multiple channels is that businesses must also be prepared to deliver multichannel customer service.
Poor levels of service can ruin the overall shopping experience and mean that the customer is lost forever, so online, in-store, mobile and all other channels must work together to deliver an excellent overall customer experience.
New research from eDigitalResearch examined how consumers prefer to contact companies and then compared the various response times and satisfaction levels.
The survey asked more than 2,000 UK respondents how they expect to be able to contact a business - 92% selected email, followed by telephone (71%) and by post (45%). Fewer than one in four (22%) said live online chat and just 11% said social media.
Email also proved to be the most popular channel for actually contacting brands, as 58% of respondents used that channel the last time they got in touch with a company, compared to just 31% who picked up the phone.
If you were going to get in touch with a company, by what means would you expect to be able to contact them? Please tick all that apply vs. Thinking of the last time you got in touch with a company, how did you contact them?
The report also shows that how you contact a brand has a big impact on the speed of the response.
Overall a quarter (24%) of all customer contact is answered within six hours, but on average every one in 10 customers who contact a brand for whatever reason are left in the lurch and never receive feedback from businesses.
Social media is apparently the most effective way of getting a response from brands, probably due to the fact that it’s a public forum so businesses are more wary of leaving complaints unanswered.
This also shows how quickly social has matured into an effective customer service channel. For more information on this topic read our blog posts on 12 social customer service tips for beginners and how to deliver excellent social customer service.
How long did you wait until you first heard back from the company or brand that you contacted?
Loyalty to different sectors
Supermarkets currently have the highest levels of customer loyalty in the UK, with just over half of respondents (55%) stating that they almost always visit the same brand.
This is attributable to a range of factors, such as store loyalty schemes, online shopping baskets and familiarity with store layouts.
With the exception of clothing and accessories (43%), the level of customer loyalty is generally far lower among other sectors. Banking and finance comes in third (26%), followed by electronics (25%) and holiday providers (21%).
Thinking about companies or brands you feel loyal towards, i.e. the brand you would choose above any other if all things were equal, which industries are they in? Please tick all that apply.
A recent survey by Epsilon found that consistently good products and services are the most important factor behind customer loyalty, followed by value for money and being treated like a valued customer.
And a separate study by Zendesk achieved similar findings, with quality, customer service and price identified as the most important factors behind customer loyalty.
Econsultancy's JUMP event on October 9 is all about creating seamless multichannel customer experiences. Now, in its fourth year it will be attended by more than 1,200 senior client-side marketers. This year it forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza.