UK retailers are struggling to cope with a rising volume of queries and growing consumer expectations, according to the Eptica Multichannel Customer Conversation Study. The 100 UK companies surveyed could only answer 44 per cent of routine questions asked on the web, email, Twitter and Facebook, down from 49 per cent in 2016.
Social media saw the biggest fall, potentially driven by its increasing use by consumers as a customer service channel. Just 34 per cent of tweets and 35 per cent of Facebook messages received a successful answer, despite 94 per cent of companies advertising their Twitter handles, and 89 per cent having Facebook pages. Performance has dropped substantially – in 2016 48 per cent of tweets and 45 per cent of Facebook messages received an accurate response.
Conducted since 2012 by digital customer experience software provider Eptica, and designed to test real performance, the Eptica Multichannel Customer Conversation Study evaluated 100 leading UK brands from the insurance, banking, travel, telecoms, utility, electronics manufacturing, fashion, consumer electronics retail, food and drink retail and entertainment sectors on their ability to provide answers to ten routine questions via the web as well as their speed, and accuracy when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat.
“Brands today face a growing challenge when it comes to customer experience,” says Olivier Njamfa, CEO and co-founder, Eptica. “Consumers are ever-more demanding, and expect fast, high quality and informed conversations with brands if they are to remain loyal. However, our research shows that many brands are finding it difficult to cope with the sheer volume of queries they receive, particularly on social media. Failure to dedicate sufficient resources to customer experience, or to deploy new technologies such as artificial intelligence to support staff will ultimately hit the bottom line, as consumers switch to rivals who offer them the service they demand.”
The research uncovered growing gaps between the best and worst performers, both within specific sectors and also between different types of company. According to Eptica, customers have increasingly complex questions, and want higher quality, personalised service from brands. Recognising this, for the first time the research measured the quality of responses for email, social media and chat, across six sectors, based on their speed, relevance, context, personalisation and empathy. This found that overall channel quality scores ranged from 57 per cent (chat) to 68 per cent (Facebook). Speed scored highest (69 per cent), well ahead of context (60 per cent) and empathy (59 per cent), demonstrated that brands need to focus on quality if they are to successfully engage consumers.