Survey: Consumers prefer online, email-based customer service

BY Dan Berthiaume

Sunnyvale, Calif. – Modern shoppers have a very low tolerance for poor customer service, and crave a more intimate relationship where retailers know their needs, wants and preferences, and respect their time and business. According to an April 2014 research survey from customer engagement technology vendor Kana Software Inc., when asked about their preferred customer service communication channels used to engage with retailers in the past six months, the channel named most often as most preferred was Web (24.5%), followed by email (17.9%).

Channels cited most often as least preferred were video chat (named by 30.2% of respondents); phone was the next least preferred channel, named by 22.6% of respondents.

When asked to compare customer service during online versus in-store/brick-and-mortar shopping, 40.5% of respondents said that online was better, whereas 33% thought both were about the same. Nearly 18% said in-store customer service was better, and 8.5% had no opinion on the matter.

More than one-third of those surveyed reported experiencing a customer service issue related to different business policies and procedures for online versus in store/brick-and-mortar shopping – for example, issues with purchasing online and returning in store, indicating retailers have more work to do in creating omnichannel customer service strategies to ensure consistency in omnichannel retailing.

“It’s no surprise that organizations are leveraging Web self-service and email more and more as our survey shows consumers prefer these channels," said Scott Hays, senior director, product marketing for Kana. "We not only see Web and email infused with strong knowledge management, we have also observed that Web self-service addresses a new way that consumers are engaging with brands – in a ‘multimodal fashion.’ Customers often use multiple channels at once – e.g., speaking to an agent while browsing the company’s website and expecting near-immediate confirmations by email. The challenge now for organizations is to weave those experiences together in real time to provide optimal engagement with the customer.”


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