Allowances made for shortcomings in customer service during COVID-19 times are wearing thin
London, UK; San Francisco, USA. 29th September, 2020: More than half of the public expects customer service to be ‘back to normal’, despite disruption caused by COVID-19, according to research by gig customer experience platform Limitless. 51% of 400 respondents surveyed felt that customer service should be back to normal efficiency and quality levels – compared to 75% who were prepared to make allowances for brands earlier in the year.
The research comes as brands begin the countdown to the busiest shopping period of the year, beginning with Black Friday (November 27th) and Cyber Monday, (November 30th) as well as the peak Christmas 2020 holiday shopping and January 2021 sale season.
The research also revealed specific customer issues and frustrations felt by respondents since March. Poor response times, either over the phone or on digital channels, was the top customer service frustration amongst respondents, with unavailability of stock rated nearly as highly. Delays to delivery was rated a top concern by 25% of respondents, followed by website downtime, and product return issues.
Almost 70% of respondents in the Limitless survey indicated that they are shopping online more now than before the pandemic.
“Brands are recognising that they will now need to fulfill heightened customer expectations by delivering bigger and better e-commerce offerings, and better customer service than ever before,” said Roger Beadle, Limitless co-founder and CEO. “The majority of people who have now had an online experience will never fully return to their old ways, especially those who have tried online shopping for the first time. We’re now at the very beginning of a step-change in the proportion of ecommerce use, meaning that brands now have a new set of expectations that need to be met and upheld, presented by a whole new group of e-commerce customers.”
The survey is part of a series of research carried out by Limitless this year, which also includes its Gig Customer Service report, which found that two thirds of people signed up on ‘gig’ customer service platforms had seen an increase in demand for customer service tasks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of how a change in circumstances can lead to a sudden surge in the ways customers want to engage. We are seeing a significant rise in customers wanting reassurance from organisations before they buy leading to increased customer service demand,” said Megan Neale, Limitless co-founder and COO. “It’s essential that businesses respond in an agile and flexible way, without compromising quality of service to retain the trust of their customers. Brands need to prepare for a different kind of retail rush now more than ever.”