Customer Service Benchmark Report – Support Benchmarks for Today’s Top Companies

Written by Dylan Max  on   Jun 30, 2020

To download a copy of the full Customer Service Benchmark report, visit here.


Overview of our 2020 Customer Service Benchmark Report

  • Results of our inaugural Customer Service Benchmark Report 
  • Findings reveal how the top retail and consumer goods companies deliver against customer service KPIs: availability, responsiveness, resolution time and measuring customer happiness 
  • Analysis of how users of the most popular agent desk platforms perform against industry averages  

Customer Service Benchmark

We’re excited to announce the launch of our inaugural Customer Service Benchmark Report. In this edition, we dig deep into the email customer support of retail and consumer goods companies. With top customer service now a differentiator and business driver, the state of email customer support is surprising. Some support teams wowed us with quick resolutions and going above and beyond to create satisfied customers. On average, however, retail and consumer goods companies have a long way to go.

Related content: Chatbots in retail are helping brands supply a better brand experience not only via chat, but also via email as well.

Key Findings of the Customer Service Benchmark Report

  • Zendesk users are 2X faster than other agent desk software to send a response
  • Salesforce users outperformed other agent desk software by 121%
  • Only 56% of companies have an easy-to-access email address
  • 70% of companies that have an email address never respond  
  • Customers are 8X more likely to get a response to an email on a weekday than a weekend 
  • The average response time to email requests is 36 hours 
  • Only 1 in 5 retailers respond to an email within 24 hours 
  • Fortune 500 companies respond 1.4x slower to respond to emails than Non-Fortune 500 companies 
  • Only 14% of companies measure CSAT
  • When given the chance to go above and beyond and fulfill a special request, 83% of companies failed to deliver 

To download a copy of the full report, visit here.


Our Customer Service Benchmark Report Says The Agent Desk Matters: Zendesk users provide better-than-average support

Our report found that Zendesk users are 2X faster than other agent desk software to send a response.  Salesforce users also outperformed by 121%.

In addition to better response times, Zendesk are 2X more likely to send a CSAT survey to gauge customer satisfaction with an interaction.

Email is preferred but is not often a choice

According to Forrester Research, “54% of customers used email for customer service last year, making it the most used digital channel for customer service.”  

This is true even in the wake of companies de-prioritizing email as messaging platforms. Live chat and voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant emerged as ways to engage in 1:1 conversations and resolve issues. According to our consumer research, it’s because email customer support is more convenient. Our research also revealed it is preferred as it’s readily available across all of our devices.

Only 56% of companies have an easy-to-access, readily available email address. Nearly 64% of companies offered a Web form. 37% of companies offered both an email address and a Web form. Surprisingly, 17% of companies did not have either an email address or a web form.

There is a massive divide between response times expectations and reality

Only 20% of companies respond within 24 hours. Nearly 1 in 5 companies do not respond to emails within 48 hours. The average response time is 36 hours. This is 36X slower than customer expectations, as  31% of customers expect responses in one hour or less1.

Of the companies that respond to emails, nearly 56% respond within 12 hours and 46% within 6 hours. On average, eCommerce companies are the quickest to respond, within 11.5 hours on average. With an average response time of 62 hours, personal care and cosmetics companies are the slowest to respond.

In an interesting twist, Fortune 500 companies respond to customer emails 1.5X slower than Non-Fortune 500 companies. The average handle time for Fortune 500 companies was 47 hours to respond, while non-Fortune 500 companies responded, on average, in 34 hours.

Emails are ignored 8X MORE on the weekend

We were shocked to learn that nearly 3 in 4 companies that publish an email address ignore customer service emails.

We found discrepancies among different industry sectors. Home Furnishings is almost twice as likely to respond than other retail companies, responding 55% of the time. They are followed by Apparel (48%),  Fitness, Health & Wellness (47%) and Toy & Entertainment (43%) companies. The worst offenders were Food and Beverage Companies (responding 38% of the time) and Consumer Electronics & Tech companies (only 18% of the time).

Companies respond more frequently during the week. Customers are 8X more likely to get a response on a weekday than a weekend.


To download a copy of the Customer Service Benchmark report, visit here.


Support Best Practices: Personalization and CSAT Results

Studies of customer service metrics have shown that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand that provides personalized experiences2. When a customer hits send, though, only 20% will receive a personalized response.

CSAT is one of the most important customer service KPIs. It’s how companies can ensure customers are happy. Only 14% of companies sent a customer satisfaction survey following a resolution.

Customer-obsession is alive and well

We often hear stories about agents going truly above and beyond to delight customers. We wanted to see if agents were empowered to fulfill a simple request, so we asked an agent to send a birthday message to a five-year-old whose birthday party was canceled. 1 in 5 companies go above and beyond to provide great customer service, much to our delight. Some agents went so far as to write poems and attach images and GIFs. Seeing agents empowered to do a small gesture was meaningful and one way to spur long-term loyalty and brand advocacy (the kind that pays off in revenue.

Critical Acclaim for our Customer Service Benchmark Report

The results of this Customer Service Benchmark study have been fact-checked and featured by one of the top retail writers on Forbes.

Retailers and consumer goods companies have a lot of work to do when it comes to closing the gap between customer expectations and the reality of email support. Get your copy of our Customer Service Benchmark Report here.

For more information on customer service, visit:

References

  1. Toister Performance Solutions: https://www.toistersolutions.com/blog/how-quickly-should-you-respond-to-email
  2. Epsilon: https://us.epsilon.com/pressroom/new-epsilon-research-indicates-80-of-consumers-are-more-likely-to-make-a-purchase-when-brands-offer-personalized-experiences 

Choice Matters: The Importance of Multi-channel Customer Service

Written by Can Ozdoruk  on   Jun 23, 2020

In order to meet customer expectations, companies must provide multi channel customer service 

We live in an on-demand society. We expect anything delivered any time, anywhere. Receiving resolutions to our customer service issues is no different than getting caught up on the daily news. The expectation is for 24/7 access to multi channel customer service.

Multi-channel support has emerged as a major point of differentiation for companies of all sizes. The payoff for great customer satisfaction is huge. Good support pays in terms of revenue, retention, and reputation. The following customer service statistics will give you an idea of just how important it is for companies to invest in customer support:

  • 16%: Premium people will pay when accompanied by good customer experiences
  • 95%: Say customer service plays into brand loyalty
  • 33%: Switch companies after 1 instance of poor customer service

Core to a good experience is offering your customers a choice. Customers want choice for the channels on which they receive support. They also want a choice about when they are able to get problems resolved.  There are a growing number of futuristic (hello, Alexa) channels where people expect to be able to get a question answered or a problem resolved. Providing quick, convenient support experiences on the channels your customers prefer is key to great support. 

It’s no longer enough to be readily available on one or two channels, staffing agents to answer phones during limited business hours. The expectation is for 24/7, low-effort support on the channels of choice. Companies are not doing this today: Less than half of consumers find any customer service channel easy to use.  

How to offer multi-channel customer support 

Focus on making your customers happy by making them feel appreciated and listened to. Your customers expect customer support on these primary channels: 


Check out The Ultimate Guide to Delivering Exceptional Customer Support in 2022.


Circumstances change, and channel preferences are fluid 

Customers don’t usually have a single channel that they prefer 100% of the time. A person might prefer a customer self service website portal for a question about a return policy. While a more urgent matter is better suited for live chat. Some customers might prefer sending a refund request in a customer support email, while others might want to submit a complaint in between chats with friends on social media.

For every customer, the situation, their situational context, the urgency of a resolution and the nature of the issue directly changes their preferences for how they get in touch with service reps. It’s not just younger consumers who seamlessly flow between channels. There is an undeniable shift across age groups adopting more channels. The omnichannel experience is here to stay. 

Bring Humans and AI together, in union, across every channel 

It’s not just enough to offer a support team on these channels, you also have to provide personal support instantaneously. Consider this: 32% of people expect a response within 30 minutes on messaging platforms, and  57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours. [To learn about specific response time expectations by channel, check out Hubspot’s blog here]. 

Most companies cannot afford to staff human agents round-the-clock, across every channel. It’s simply cost-prohibitive. Companies need to deploy AI across channels to act as the first line of defense. AI can solve repeatable queries autonomously, while escalating complex issues to human agents. While some companies are wary about AI, “45% of consumers don’t care who they interact with — live agent or chatbot — as long as the service is effective, accurate, and handled quickly.

A human and machine team effort is the only way to scale personal support across multiple channels without multiplying the current resource allocation to customer service. With customer service now directly impacting buying decisions and building loyalty, it’s essential that companies meet demands for convenient, cross-channel support. 

Celebrate each channel’s differences, and adapt your service accordingly 

Your interaction needs to be adapted to fit each channel. Messaging and chat are less formal, more conversational and expected to be immediate. Long-form sentences are hard to read in a chat environment. Short-form and abbreviations, on the other hand, don’t usually work on email.  

Choice matters. Let your customers decide how they want to resolve an issue and be a hero in their eyes. 

Interested in learning how we can increase your knowledge base and empower your company to scale multi channel customer service? Get in touch today.

Deploying AI? Ask these three questions to your partner’s customer success team

Written by Can Ozdoruk  on   Jun 16, 2020

Companies are adopting conversational AI chatbots to solve business needs, enhancing automated customer service, reduce customer service costs, and improve the customer experience.

When researching AI companies, the folks spearheading these initiatives usually focus solely on the core AI abilities, platform sophistication, Natural Language Understanding (NLU) accuracy, and the ability for ongoing learning. It’s equally important, however, to ensure the AI partner you choose offers a dedicated and experienced customer success team. Customer success teams are there to help you achieve your goals, oversee your project and ensure ongoing success. 


At Netomi, we believe that true customer success begins with our people and our implementation services in parallel with our best-in-class AI. 


Not every customer success team overseeing AI implementations is equal. The level of dedicated support and communication varies widely. Here are the three most important things you need to ask a customer success team to ensure your AI program is successful and delivers against your goals.

1. Do you prioritize ‘time to value’ above everything?

AI is a technology that excites companies – from top-level management to customer service agents. That’s because the problems that AI is adopted to resolve are critical and fundamental to the health and viability of an organization. Customers today expect more convenient, effortless and omnichannel support, and are basing their buying decisions on the support that they receive. Getting AI agents up and running quickly to meet these demands, delight customers and drive revenue now impacts a company’s bottom line. Time is of the essence. 

Look for a customer success team that believes time is the most valuable asset. You’ll want a team that deeply understands how imperative it is to see a return on investment quickly. As part of the initial onboarding for AI, we follow a specific sequence of events to maximize value. For example, the first initial weeks are solely focused on prioritizing the scenarios that will provide the most relief to front-line agents. Once we establish that relief, we focus later attention on maximizing AI training, as well as continued user acceptance testing to ensure the AI is helping your users.

Look for a team that is ultra-transparent, is aggressive in timelines and provides quick turnarounds. A good customer success team will also minimize potential issues, foresee delays and be proactive.

When you’re considering your AI partner, ask about timelines, onboarding and launch processes, and what your team will be responsible for upfront. 

2. What is your dedication to pushing boundaries? 

The ‘AI space’ is rapidly evolving. So it’s important to look for a customer success team that pushes themselves to have a pulse on the market and adapt to new trends, opportunities and capabilities. You’ll want a team that is passionate and committed to imagining, researching and learning. This drive for continuous improvement will guarantee that the experience you’re providing your customers is always improving. Your CSMs should come to you with new ideas to improve your AI-powered experience and leverage new breakthroughs to surpass your business goals. 

3. Do you value partnerships? 

Your AI partner should not simply be a vendor delivering software. Instead, the company you work with needs to be committed wholeheartedly to solving your business needs, wowing your customers and supporting you. To become unified partners, your customer success team should communicate clearly and often. This should vary from high-level strategy to logistical next steps. 

If you’re developing a complex AI that integrates with various systems, there are sometimes unforeseen delays. You need to trust your customer success team to openly and proactively communicate blockers, and preemptively provide new timelines and solutions. A true partnership must also include transparency, accountability and ongoing advocacy internally. 

Finally, if an issue arises during your AI implementation, you need 24/7 support. In some cases, you can’t wait until the next business day to resolve an issue. Make sure that support is available when you need it most. 


Open communication is the most important thing to demand from a customer success team. 


What’s the ideal customer success team for an AI partner?

Customer success teams at AI companies will typically include a few key players: 

  • Customer Success Manager (CSM): Your quarterback and primary day-to-day contact for onboarding, launch, support and meeting business goals
  • Data Analyst: The Data, AI and Industry expert, keeping an eye on the intelligence of the implementation
  • Data Scientist: Owns the continuous advancement of the AI models, across channels and use-cases
  • Executive sponsorship: A very senior person at the company for oversight and escalation

If you’re considering bringing AI into your organization, make sure that superior AI technology is backed by an experienced customer success team. If you’ve currently adopted AI, ask yourself if you have a true partner who is always-improving, always communicating and delivering against expectations. 

Can we tell you more about our white-glove support that our team delivers? Email our team at any time! Email me @ Anthony@netomi.com.