Customer Experience Emerges as 2020 Bright Spot: Consumers See Positive Shift in Service and Signal Increasing Digital Engagement

Mitel survey of more than 4,000 consumers from the US, UK, France and Germany shows organisations making strides in CX despite unpredictable times; points to rise in use of online options

  • Sixty percent of consumers report improvements in customer experience (CX) since the pandemic, indicating businesses recognise the importance of CX and are responding.
  • Telephone and email remain prevalent with digital gaining momentum as consumers plan to increase usage of chatbots, virtual agents and self-service, even post pandemic.
  • Customer experience rated highest in retail followed by healthcare, with government showing greatest need for improvement.

 The results of new global research from Mitel® offer encouraging signs for CX and point to areas where IT decision-makers should prioritise improvements as they look beyond today’s challenging business environment. The research polled more than 4,000 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany to gauge the pandemic’s current impact on CX, as well as anticipated longer-term effects, and identify opportunities for organisations to make any necessary adjustments.

CX has improved during COVID-19, according to 60 percent of consumers

While the demands on customer service operations and contact centers, particularly, have increased since the onset of COVID-19, many organisations appear to be adapting well. More than half of Brits (60%) have seen a positive shift in the type of customer experience organisations have been offering in response to the pandemic, specifically in the retail (50%) and healthcare (34%) industries. This suggests a healthy number of organisations do, in fact, view CX as an extension of the products or services they provide and are finding ways to deliver better CX, even in unpredictable times.

The research also validates that the foundations for good and bad CX are mostly universal with only slight regional differences. Among the top drivers equated with good CX by UK consumers: friendly, helpful, knowledgeable customer representatives (65%); responsiveness and fast service (49%); and communication that informs every step of the way (42%). Bad CX, on the other hand, stands in stark contrast. UK consumers attribute bad CX to being transferred multiple times and having to repeat oneself over and over (52%); being placed on hold (49%); and having too many steps to navigate (43%).

“When CX fails to hit the mark, an organisational or technology issue is at play. If there’s a customer-centric culture, contact center agents, for example, will make the best of what they have and find a way to delight customers,” said Jon Arnold, Principal, J Arnold & Associates. “That said, many businesses are hampered by their current technology. Culture change to become customer-centric can take years, but a technology upgrade can be done quickly, especially with cloud-based offerings. A strong takeaway from the research is that consumers feels organisations are responding positively, in terms of CX.”

Traditional communication channels still dominate, but use of digital options is growing

When asked which channels they typically use to engage with customer service, respondents cited telephone and email. Interestingly, the research reveals a gap between actual usage and preference for these channels, where preference appears lower and implies customers would rather use other channels if possible. In-person is the only channel where preference is, not surprisingly, higher than actual due to the current environment.

Nearly half (45%) of UK consumers also said their use of online customer services has increased this year and of that number, more than 73% said they will rely on digital options more going forward. Whether their digital engagement with customer service rose or remained the same in 2020, nearly half of all respondents plan to increase their use chatbots, virtual agents and self-service overall. Because many contact centers have been slow to support these capabilities, investment in these areas is warranted and will likely spur further use and preference.

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