If you think tech customers are satisfied, you might want to think again. Technology customers want options when it comes to the customer experience, and they often walk away from brand interactions feeling unsatisfied. A new study of consumers from the U.S., U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands by Conduent shows that customers are talking to tech brands more often, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are more satisfied. In fact, the satisfaction gap between customers and suppliers is growing. In order to help close the gap, tech brands need to be aware of their customers and understand the issues they face and how they want those issues resolved.
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from the survey is this: nearly half (47%) of customers are dissatisfied with their tech suppliers. Since the last Conduent survey in 2015, satisfaction dropped 10%. The lack of satisfaction is due to a number of factors, including disjointed experiences, not getting the help they need, and not feeling appreciated.
From the survey results, Conduent identified three types of customers across all tech companies. Understanding their customers can help companies know how to best interact with them. Do-it-Yourself Heroes accounted for about a quarter of respondents and are the customers who like to look for self-help, such as on a website, app, or using a virtual assistant because they tend to avoid person-to-person interaction. Digital Conversationalists were slightly more than a quarter of respondents, and they prefer to communicate digitally via email, chat, or social media. Conversationalists were by far the largest group, at just under half of all respondents. These customers prefer human interaction with face-to-face or phone conversations.
Brands only have less than 10 minutes to solve a customer’s problem, no matter the channel, or else customers are much more likely to get frustrated and be dissatisfied. However, brands aren’t providing 80% of customers with first-step resolution, and 75% don’t provide enough to encourage successful self-help. That means that customers are having to try multiple times to get the answers they need, and if often comes through the channels they don’t prefer.
Customers are interacting with tech brands mostly through digital channels, with on-device help, social media, and virtual assistant the three most popular channels. In fact, digital as a preferred means of communication jumped by 63% from 2015. However, customers constantly remarked that their experiences were inconsistent across digital channels and gave it the lowest satisfaction score compared to other ways to communicate with the company.
The survey showed that although a growing number of people prefer digital channels, traditional channels are still wildly popular, and many customers communicate with the brand through a mix of channels. A customer may interact with an associate in store, then chat with an agent online and call the service center with a question. In order to create a strong customer experience and compete with other tech companies, brands must have a consistent omni-channel strategy where customers feel they receive great care no matter how they interact with the company. Customers want to use channels that are quick, easy, and convenient, but the referred communication method can differ depending on the type of customer and what they are trying to do — a larger number of customers contact the call center when they are negotiating a contract than use social media, for example. To be prepared for every type of customer, brands need to put omni-channel at the center of their customer experience.
So how do brands go about improving the customer relationship? It can start by rewarding loyalty. The survey found that nearly 65% of customers have been loyal to a tech brand for at least three years. However, that loyalty could easily be swayed, with 45% of customers saying they would change suppliers if they were given the right incentive. In order to stop loyal customers from switching companies, brands need to focus on building a solid customer experience that sets them apart.
Focusing on omni-channel can also make a huge difference so customers know they will receive consistent and great customer service no matter what channel they use to communicate. The tech customer’s journey involves both traditional and digital channels, but the customer experience must remain the same, regardless of the channel.
Even though tech customers may be dissatisfied, there is plenty of room for companies to grow and improve their customer experience to keep their customers happy and coming back for more.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.