Surely we’d all agree that good customer service can lead to happier customers? So what processes and interactions get a company to that holy grail of creating happy, engaged and profitable customer relationships?
We took a moment to survey our own clients about their customer service processes, to see if there are any common trends in how companies interact with customers, their customer processes and how customer satisfaction is measured. There were some surprising results.
57% of respondents were from companies with under 10 employees, 25% had under 50 employees and 18% rounded out the rest with more than 50 employees. Ranging from startups, web, software and design agencies, not for profits, marketing, branding and creative agencies, IT and digital media firms and e-commerce types the breadth of respondents represented a healthy sample of the web and tech industries.
When it came to customer service more than 42% of all companies surveyed did not have a dedicated customer service resource. This increased when looking at only the smaller companies with more than 57% having no customer service resource.
When queried about customer complaints processes, more than 55% of all respondents regardless of company size stated that their company did not have any complaints process. This number increased to more than 66% in small companies.
An overwhelming 81% of all respondents stated they respond to customer feedback within 1-3 business days. It is possible that due to question wording, respondents weren’t considering complaints entirely within the realm of feedback, however, it was interesting to note response rates are so high when customer complaints processes and customer service team resources are so low. Small companies with simply may not have the need to implement such processes or may lack the dollars or resources to do so.
Onto the tools …
Whilst it was nice to see BugHerd featured heavily, the most used tool for collecting customer feedback is face-to-face, followed by email and web forms.
An interesting takeaway was that as company size grew skype funding was funneled into usability testing. There could be a measure of scale applied between to these tools, being that one-to-one communication doesn’t scale hence the need for more scalable communication methods. Though interestingly, face to face feedback did rate higher in larger companies, where email was more popular in the smaller ones. Tools such as Zendek and Pivotal Tracker were marginally more of a choice for the big guys whilst BugHerd and Basecamp differed little between company size.
It is clear that though there are a plethora of tools out there, personal interactions are still favoured over utilising an application for collecting customer feedback. Based on discussions with our own clients, though there are many reasons why, often it is easier to use such tools with clients as they require little to no training to use them and they can assist in developing a better customer relationship.
This theme carried on in response to customer satisfaction …
An open-ended response question, answers were of course varied. A commonality amongst many who do not utilise a particular tool was that they listen to customer feedback and base customer satisfaction on the knowledge of their client relationship.
Of the tools listed, surveys were the highest featured measure with personal interactions such as pen and paper and direct responses also included. Tools such as BugHerd, Google Analytics, forms and net promoter score were also mentioned.
One response that summed up many of the responses nicely was from one agency that said “It’s the vibe.” Though it’s not exactly a science it’s clear that customer satisfaction is often a measure of personal interaction and customer relationship management.
Though the survey touched more on incoming communication we found it interesting to see how companies communicated to their customers. Once again personal interactions reigned supreme with personal email scoring 83% of tools used vs. only 17% for e-newsletter
Social Media, company blogs and website were represented far higher in larger companies, where they each featured at 44% of tools used to communicate. These tools were represented far lower in small companies with only 26% communicating on their website and even less on blogs or social media.
It’s very clear that personal interactions with customers are favoured higher than any other regardless of company size and there doesn’t seem to be any tool out there (that we know of) that beats good old face to face or personal email. Measuring customer satisfaction doesn’t appear to be a top priority for many. though most companies do have access to tools to do so or are already using ones that could be repurposed.
Though it seems unlikely that there will ever be a tool to completely replace face-to-face customer service, it is still a manual process that requires data to be input at some level lest the information be wasted. It also potentially lacks the ability to scale at a larger level. However large or small the company, customer feedback and issues need to be documented to improve communications, products and services.
Therein lies the need to have issue and client relationship management systems to take the best advantage of our customer feedback, why else would we bother using tools to collect the feedback in the first place? Having good customer service processes can give a company the opportunity to show customers some love and as mentioned right from the start, surely that can only lead to happier customers?