There is a growing sense of importance surrounding consumers' demand for quick, easy and personalised service when marketers and brands are trying to earn their trust, according to a study of more than 18,000 consumers in nine countries, published by Verint Systems in conjunction with Ovum and Opinium.
The study also identified several deep divisions over attitudes about how customers' personal data is used to deliver such service. In fact, while almost nine in 10 respondents (89%) agreed that good service makes them feel more positive about the brands they engage with, nearly half (48%) also said they are suspicious about how their data is used.
Only 20% of respondents agreed they want companies to understand their mood and cater to them accordingly. However, 43% admitted that when companies make mistakes, they are more forgiving to those they believe understand them.
"This is something of a wake-up call for brands that are trying to revamp their customer service to cater to today's more demanding and better-informed customers," said Jeremy Cox, principal customer engagement analyst for Ovum. "While brands have the ability to precision-target highly personalised communications for every single customer, the study shows what people around the world actually value most are the basics-questions answered with minimal effort on their part."
Brands therefore have a fine balance to strike between the customized and impersonal service they deliver. Customers expect to be recognised, but will have adverse reactions if they feel stalked.
The study also explored the impact of poor service on switching behaviour, as well as the benefits brands can reap if they get it right. Though cheaper pricing is the single biggest motivation for switching (31%), rude staff (18%) and too many mistakes (16%) are second and third on the list.
Good experiences can have a powerful impact on customers' attitudes to brands. In fact, 61% of respondents said they would tell friends and family about their experiences, while more than one in four (27%) reported that they would sign up to the company's loyalty scheme. Only one in seven (15%) didn't think good service would change their behaviour in any way.
"The new rule book of customer service has less to do with personalisation at all costs, and everything to do with making life easier for people," concluded Dave Capuano, global vice president of integrated marketing for Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions. "On the whole, consumers have no patience with firms that don't get the basics right. This is a challenge for providers and an opportunity to help ensure frontline staff have information at their fingertips to deliver a quick and seamless service relevant to each customer's individual needs. Staff should be empowered to make decisions and 'go the extra mile' when required."