• Study reveals five company personas and the hazards, opportunities for the large number of companies with inflated views of the quality of their service;
• From the Selfie to the Stickler, companies bring a broad range of attitudes, approaches and investments to customer care;
• Misapplication, underutilization of technology poses risks of loss of customer loyalty, missed revenue opportunities.
Aspect Software, a leading provider of fully-integrated customer interaction management, workforce optimization, back-office and award-winning cloud solutions, today announced the Aspect Customer Care Personas, a five-segment personification of companies’ approach to, and execution of, customer service. Based on an analysis of practices as identified by customer service decision makers, the personas study aims to help companies uncover where they fall in their customer care strategy and the opportunities for improvement.
“The foundation of an effective and exceptional customer engagement strategy can no longer be built solely on traditional customer service methods particularly when today’s consumers are in more control and have a louder voice than ever before,” says Joe Gagnon, senior vice president and general manager Cloud Solutions at Aspect Software. “As customer service becomes the new marketing, most companies need help focusing on specific improvement areas in their customer service approach. This in-depth survey has shown that there are many different approaches to customer care and finding a balance between consumer and company interests is not only needed, it is much easier said than done. Our findings identify gaps in service delivery or deficiencies in consumer-facing technology that can help companies improve the value they provide to their own customers.”
Through the research of companies across vertical segments, five different company customer service personas were identified based on their investment, approach and attitudes towards delivering customer service:
The Traditionalist Big on customer touch, short on technology
The Honcho Heavy on the executive leadership, light on strategic effectiveness
The Selfie Tons of tech, missing on metrics
The Casualist Best intentions, worst in just about everything else
The Stickler - All policy, no apologies
While there is no one perfect customer service persona, disconnectedness troubles companies in every segment. Technology is disconnected from agent engagement, metrics are disconnected from what matters to the consumer, and procedures are disconnected from delivering exceptional service.
Part of the answer to solving this disconnectedness is evaluating the appropriation of technology investment. More than half of companies (53 percent) are currently and actively using their company's customer service technology investment to replace the customer service representative while nearly half (47 percent) believe that by 2020, the human interaction element of the customer service representative will be replaced by technology all together. And while this investment may save companies money in the short term, it may cost them dearly in the long run. Consumer demand for more self-service options is on the rise but companies who provide customer service on their terms and for their interests alone risk becoming laggards while organizations that address technology investment from the consumer’s perspective put themselves in position for market leadership.
In an additional Aspect-commissioned study of consumers, 73 percent of respondents said they wished companies offered more ways to solve customer service issues on their own yet the same amount (75 percent) say they believe companies’ motive for using self-service is to prevent them from talking to a customer service representative. It’s no wonder that 96 percent of them said that they were more likely to do business with a company that has strong customer service and nearly three quarters (72 percent) stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer service experience. And the problem has only gotten worse. Nearly half (45 percent) say they would rather eat a piece of last year’s fruit cake than deal with customer service, an eight percent increase from this time last year.
“While companies work on improving their engagement with these hard-to-please consumers, brands need to know how they are perceived by their customers in order to assist them in understanding what it takes to provide exceptional customer care,” continues Gagnon. “It’s important therefore that companies know not only what their internal persona is but what the potential business impact is of that approach so they can identify improvement opportunities. More importantly, brands must find the right balance between serving the needs of their specific customer base and the needs of their own employees and investors to deliver exceptional service as well as exceptional shareholder returns in this ever-changing landscape.”
The Traditionalist A Traditionalist company believes in customer service in the most conventional sense: eager to please, always putting their customers first and continually striving to build lasting customer relationships.
• No persona is more focused on demonstrating customer appreciation
• However, only 5 percent of these companies strongly agree that they embrace newer technologies ahead of their customers’ demand to use them this could include things like web chat or mobile apps
• And less than half (46 percent) agree that their company encourages customers to use self-service channels to resolve their issues before contacting a customer service representative, compared to 61 percent of the total
The Honcho Leadership permeates throughout the Honcho’s approach to customer service, ranging from strategy and implementation to performance and measurement.
• One-hundred percent of the companies in this segment say leadership is involved in customer service strategy
• Ninety-three percent of the companies in the Honcho segment agree that their company’s customer service technology investment has a strong correlation to improved consumer interaction
• However, the Honcho is the least likely of all the segments to report that it maintains a social media presence, or offers cross-channel capabilities for problem resolution
The Selfie The Selfie fully embraces technology and is ahead of the curve in customer service innovation and functionality. However, this segment suffers from an amplified sense of self, believing it is doing everything right, from prioritizing customer service to involving leadership.
• An overwhelming majority (97 percent) of those in this segment agree that their company is nimble when it comes to changing technology and applications to improve the customer service experience, 41 percentage points higher than respondents overall
• But, nearly all Selfies (95 percent) agree that their company is doing a better job at customer care than customers would say they are doing
• Sadly, 94 percent of Selfie companies agree that over the past few years, the customer service measures at their company have remained relatively unchanged
The Casualist Companies here are casual in everything about their approach to customer service; too casual in fact. Companies in this segment have extremely limited leadership, limited customer metrics and little innovative technology which is why they see their customer service performance worsening.
• The Casualist says its approach to customer service is flexible, persuasive, timely, compassionate, accurate, decisive, patient and able to handle surprises
• However, 0 percent in this segment strongly agree that customer service measures capture their customers’ true level of satisfaction
• Just 20 percent of Casualist companies say their company provides customer service staff with the resources and tools needed to provide a superior customer experience, 50 points lower than the total
The Stickler The Stickler is easily characterized by one word: protocol. Sticklers have a strong desire for creating and following rules and procedures and execute a formalized approach to customer service.
• The Stickler is more likely to use technology to engage with customers than most other customer service persona segments
• Stickler companies are the least likely of all segments to say it appreciates customers, always exceeds customer expectations or empowers representatives to make customers happy
• Companies in this segment consider the ability to explain corporate policy and POV as one of the most applicable benefits of customer service
About the Personas Study
Commissioned by Aspect and conducted by GfK Custom Research, LLC, the Customer Care Personas is a two-part qualitative and quantitative study, which included a three-day online bulletin board comprised of 17 experienced customer service decision-makers across five key industries (financial services, healthcare, retail, telecom, and travel/hospitality), and a 20-minute, online survey using opt-in business sample of 629 adults nationwide who are customer-service decision-makers at the senior-manager level and above from the previously mentioned industries. The online survey was fielded from July 24-August 14, 2014.
About the Consumer Study
An online omnibus survey was administered on behalf of Aspect Software by TNS among a demographically representative national sample of 2,500 American adults 18 and older, of which 2,148 have contacted customer service. The survey was conducted from November 6 November 10, 2014. Data for this study are tested for statistical difference at a 95 percent confidence level. Data are weighted to reflect accurate representation of the population.
Aspect’s fully-integrated solution unifies the three most important facets of modern customer engagement strategy: customer interaction management, workforce optimization, and back-office. Through a full suite of cloud, hosted and hybrid deployment options, we help the world’s most demanding contact centers and back offices seamlessly align their people, processes and touch points to deliver remarkable customer experiences.