The world of customer service is in the midst of a colossal revolution. The spotlight has shifted from the brand to the consumer, as customers today not only have ample choice but also the power to make or break businesses overnight.
Naturally, organizations are challenged to serve their customers across multiple touchpoints and cater to their ever-growing needs and expectations. Because if they don’t, several competitor brands happily will.
Further, data reveals that the past two years have seen a tremendous surge in e-commerce sales and internet usage as everything was forced to move online because of the pandemic. Consequently, the way in which customers and brands communicate also changed for good. Customers now expect companies to make themselves available for them whenever and wherever they want.
In this customer-centric landscape, it’s no surprise that the brands that stand out are the ones that consistently deliver memorable customer experiences.
But what are companies doing differently to meet customers’ growing needs? Which channels are they using to deliver that single, consistent brand experience? How are they measuring their success?
In our latest Customer Service Benchmark Report, we find answers to these and many other important questions on how companies today deliver support and how they track their support performance and quality.
We surveyed 500 US-based customer service professionals across industry and company sizes. We asked them what their team’s key processes are, what channels they use, what are their response and resolution times, what KPIs they track, and what in their eyes qualifies as a successful support interaction.
Key insights from the report:
1. Remote work is here to stay: 60% of support teams have some form of remote work arrangement
Not too long ago, companies looked at remote work as a perk or a benefit they could occasionally reward their employees with for their hard work. The pandemic challenged that perception and forced businesses to adopt a fully remote work structure overnight.
What’s interesting is that despite the global vaccine rollout, a majority of customer service teams continue to have some kind of remote work arrangement.
According to our research, 61% of support teams now have some remote workers. At least 25% of these teams have adopted a fully remote work structure while 36% have a hybrid work model.
There are still 38% of teams that work out of an office.
2. Companies are going the extra mile: 76% of teams offer support outside of business hours
Gone are the days when it was accepted and expected of businesses to offer support that was only available 9-5 on weekdays. Today, customers expect more flexibility from brands. They want to be able to reach out to companies when they want, and brands are understanding that their unavailability could easily result in lost customers.
Our survey indicates that around 75%, ie. nearly 3 in 4 companies are extending support beyond the average, 8 hours, 5 days a week.
What’s more, the highest fraction of surveyed support professionals – around 34% of them – are offering customers 24×7 support.
3. Multi-channel support has become the norm: 60% teams offer support across three or more channels
Owing to the constant increase in tech adoption and smartphone usage, customers today have become more demanding than ever before. Providing support on a single channel might have sufficed a few years ago, but today, customers expect to have their questions answered no matter what device or channel they are using.
Our survey shows that brands are realizing this need: Almost 60% of respondents offer support across three or more support channels.
The channels that the surveyed teams use most include phone, email, and chat.
Amongst the above three channels, phone support tops the list with almost 83% of customer service teams offering tele-support. Email comes second with approximately 77% of teams providing email support.
Around 43% of teams offer support via chat.
4. Traditional channels are busier than modern channels: Almost 50% of support teams say phone is their busiest channel
In a day and age where support teams are making huge investments in modern and intuitive channels like AI-powered chatbots, our survey indicates that most teams still get the highest volume of customer queries on traditional support channels.
Around 46% of surveyed professionals responded that phone is the busiest channel for their team.
This is followed by email at 24%.
5. Companies are setting high standards for customer support: Almost 50% teams have SLAs of less than six hours
It’s no longer okay to make customers wait for days to get their problems resolved. Companies understand the repercussions of a single bad customer experience, so timeliness in resolution is one of the top priorities for most support teams.
Hiver survey results indicate support teams are setting high standards of performance for themselves as a good 46% of teams have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) policy to resolve customer queries in less than six hours.
Impressively, less than 10% of respondents say their SLAs are between 24-48 hours.
6. Customer satisfaction above all: 41% say CSAT is their most critical KPI
A company’s ability to effectively handle customer complaints is essential to its reputation. But oftentimes, the pressure of handling huge volumes of customer queries quickly can cause teams to lose sight of the bigger picture and compromise on their support quality. That’s why tracking metrics becomes increasingly important.
Our survey found that some KPIs are critical for all support teams regardless of their industry or company size – Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is one such metric. 41% of surveyed support professionals say that CSAT is their team’s most important KPI.
7. Teams are tracking customer feedback across channels: 51% analyze support tickets to infer customer feedback
One of the most important factors that go into maintaining high support standards is a robust customer feedback loop. According to the survey, support teams collect customer feedback through various means.
But, the most popular channel is actually the simplest – support tickets. Monitoring everyday customer support tickets, and analyzing them for patterns and trends is the most common way to understand what customers think about your brand. In fact, 51% of support teams are doing this to infer customer feedback. So, how closely are you looking at the support queries that you get?
It’s been said over and over that offering top-notch customer service is vital for a brand’s long-term success in the digital age. Yet, a number of businesses still struggle to consistently deliver great customer experiences despite having access to best-in-class technology and talent. And that’s why, this benchmarking data becomes critical for support teams to analyze what they’re doing right, where they’re falling short, and how they compare with other customer service teams.
If you’d like to read the full report, you can download it here.