Day-to-day business-customer interactions for most “basic” services –Internet, cable and banking, etc. – have been automated and are now conducted via telecom-computing networks. Yet customers who interact with service providers via digital channels are more likely to switch service providers than those who engage with companies via a human touch, according to a digital-first customer survey conducted by Verint Systems and Optimum Research
Canvassing more than 24,000 individuals in 12 countries, the survey found that overall customer retention across nine industry sectors dropped 7 percent from a year ago. Across all sectors, nearly 6 in 10 customers (57%) said they had been with the same service provider for more than three years. An average 55 percent of customers in the U.S. said they had been with the same service providers for more than three years.
Mobile service providers had above-average retention rates in the survey, with 63 percent of respondents saying they had been with the same provider for more than three years.
Digital-First Customer Survey
Just shy of half (49%) of survey respondents who said they prefer to interact with service providers via digital channels reported they had stayed with the same service provider for more than three years. That compares to 58 percent for those who prefer to contact companies via phone and 57 percent who prefer to visit “bricks and mortar” service provider outlets.
According to Verint, those customers who said they had good experiences in stores or on the phone are:
- 38% more likely to renew their product or service, even if it isn’t the least expensive option
- 27% more likely to sign up to an organization’s loyalty program
- 19% more likely to leave a positive review.
“What’s clear is that a more personal touch in customer service helps drive retention and loyalty. This is a wake-up call for many organizations looking to introduce more digital channels with the aim of reducing costs and improving customer convenience,” commented Rachel Lane, director of customer analytics, EMEA at Verint, in a press release about the digital-first customer survey results.
“As our research shows, consumers feel more positive about a brand when they interact directly with a person, so organizations need to consider how to make the digital experience more personal to avoid increased customer churn.”
The point isn’t lost on service providers, Verint found. “Our research, which also investigated what service providers and brands believe their customers want, revealed that 91% recognize that customer service online should be quicker, more intuitive and better able to serve customer needs,” Lane noted.
“That means organizations now need to focus on providing a more personal experience across all customer engagement channels to build the foundation for loyal customer relationships.”