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:


  1. Toister Performance Solutions:
  2. Epsilon: 

Self-driving customer relationships: What marketers could learn from Tesla’s Autopilot AI

Written by Puneet Mehta  on   Aug 23, 2018

AI is becoming the new user interface.

Instead of website searches, there are personalized conversations. Rather than being placed frustratingly on hold for customer support, there is immediate help on a person’s preferred channel. Instead of mass marketing, there are individual, 1:1 relationships.

As conversational AI becomes more central to businesses’ success (Gartner predicts that by 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more on bots than traditional mobile), brands need to start thinking about training their AI just like training their employees. Developments in machine learning–including deep reinforcement learning–promise to revolutionize the way businesses think about AI, making it more intelligent and human-like as compared to simpleton bots, but as the technology continues to advance, so will consumer expectations for AI-driven experiences.

The AI Building Blocks

Context, short-term and long-term “memory”

The AI should not require a person to reintroduce themselves, but rather provide an experience that gets more personal and relevant over time. The little tidbits a person reveals, whether it’s style preferences, needs/goals or even budget, should help to shape future interactions. A person should never have to tell the AI the same thing twice, unless, of course, the data or personal preference is subject to change over time.

Ongoing learning

A core part of an AI’s “DNA” is that it should continuously improve. AI learning falls info a few core categories: improved understanding of natural language and intent mapping; how to best engage with specific audience clusters in a given moment and context; and a user’s propensity to convert based on a confluence of factors. An AI’s learning is never done.

Communication with existing business systems

An AI experience can’t exist in a vacuum. By nature, it’s an incredibly personal interaction and needs to tap into a brand’s CRM, commerce and other systems in order to make the experience as personal and relevant as possible. The AI should also feed the unique insights gleaned from 1-on-1 conversations back into these systems in order to create the most personal cross-channel experience.   A travel chatbot AI should also incorporate as many parts of the customer journey as possible. For an airline, it shouldn’t just provide travel inspiration tools, but also end-to-end booking and day-of travel support, such as rebooking and check-in. Similarly, retailers should provide guided selling and personal shopping, checkout, order tracking and support all within a single AI touchpoint. AIs true benefit comes to life when it’s powering the complete customer journey.

Human escalation protocols

As advanced as AI and customer service gets, there will always be things that a human can do better, such as complex problem solving or showing empathy in unique situations. When a situation arises in which the AI doesn’t have the skillset or emotional maturity to manage, the user can quickly get frustrated and conversations need to be seamlessly escalated to a human to take over. This handoff should happen within the same channel to cause no disruption to the consumer.

Brand safety controls

Brands need to protect themselves and make sure that they are not at risk of falling victim to merciless trolls. Therefore, every AI needs to be trained to disengage from conversations that could put them at risk. Whether it’s ending a conversation immediately when an inappropriate or sensitive topic comes up, warning users and having a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy, or elevating to a human agent, AIs need to know what topics are off-limits and how to respond appropriately.

Measurements for business impact and AI performance

What good is an AI experience, if you can’t measure its effectiveness? Brands need to set goals and track conversion, whether it’s purchases, engagement, support or loyalty initiatives. Also, understanding how the AI itself is learning and optimizing over time as well as how the brand is saving operating costs typically associated with human agent support are key metrics to measure.

We’re at a critical point in the AI life cycle. Companies like Tommy Hilfiger, Target and others have shown consumers what a great AI experience can look like, and now the brands that don’t meet these raised expectations that are actually helpful risk losing consumers engaging with their AI, and their business altogether.

For more information, check out: The 16 Best AI Chatbot Vendors With Reviews and Features.