Report Shows Hotels, Banks, and Pharmacies Lead the Way in Customer-Centricity

Hotel chains, banking, and pharmacies earned the best reviews from the KANA Customer Service Survey February 2014.

The percentages reveal the number of respondents giving a rating of 8, 9, or 10 on a scale of 1 being least customer-centric and 10 being most customer-centric. Hotels chains (60.34%), banking (50.86%), and pharmacies (45.68%) were the top three performing industries in the survey while the worst performers, according to the survey, were utilities (29.31%), telecom-Internet service providers-cable TV/Internet (26.72%), and health insurers (23.27%).

The lowest performing sectors reflected the percentage of respondents giving a rating of 1, 2, or 3 on a scale of 1 being least customer-centric and 10 being most customer-centric.

According to the survey, the digital home has become extremely dependent on Internet Service Providers, leveraging their services extensively and with the expectation that service must be continuous and uninterrupted.

Americans now own four digital devices on average, and the average U.S. consumer spends 60 hours a week consuming content across devices. Americans on average own high-definition televisions (83%), Internet-connected computers (80%), and smartphones (65%). Nearly half also own digital video recorders (49%) and gaming consoles (46%), according to Nielsen’s U.S. Digital Consumer Report February 2014.

Respondents ranked health insurance vendors least customer-centric of all insurance providers (life, auto, health), and even less customer-centric than the airline industry.

Sectors with the highest chance of customer defection: (Percentage of consumers surveyed rating an 8, 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 being least likely and 10 being most likely regarding the possibility that they would discontinue doing business with these types of vendors following a poor or disappointing customer experience.)

Car rental (56.03%)

Pharmacy (50.86%): Greatest risk of customer defections, perhaps due to the perceived greatest ease of switching?

Airlines (46.55%): Although more than 12% could be labeled “stalwarts”, these consumers indicated they were least likely to switch following a poor customer experience, perhaps due to the influence of airline miles/loyalty rewards programs where consumers tend to fly the same airline to maximize their rewards, and the reward of free flights is seen to outweigh the perceived cost of poor service.

Sectors enjoying the least chance of customer defection: (Percentage of consumers surveyed rating a 1, 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 being least likely and 10 being most likely regarding the possibility that they would discontinue doing business with these types of vendors following a poor or disappointing customer experience.)

Utilities (51.72%): A highly regulated industry, consumers tend to have few choices in their utility providers and often have little recourse in situations where they experience poor service, outside of filing a complaint with a regulatory body.

Banking (25.86%): Most likely due to the fact that consumers view switching/closing accounts as very disruptive.

One sector where respondents’ feelings on defection/switching were polarized was with regard to health insurance: 31.89% said they were least likely to switch (1, 2, or 3) following a poor experience, whereas 28.45% indicated they were most likely to switch (8, 9 or 10) following a poor experience. This may be due to the fact that consumers place a high value on the quality of physician’s networks and access to individual physicians, and the value of loyalty and personal doctor-patient relationships are perceived to outweigh health plan customer service aspects.

Top-ranked customer service attributes: (Survey respondents were asked to rank the factors that were most influential in their decision to purchase products and services from a list of options, with most influential being a 1 and least influential being a 5.)

Survey respondents ranked “Fast Responsive Issue/Problem Resolution” as the most influential factor (mean score of 2.28); followed by “Friendly Customer Service Agents and the Ability to Speak to a Live Person” (mean score of 2.34); Accessible 24/7 multi-channel customer service – via the web, mobile, email, phone received a mean score ranking of 3.16.

Factors listed as “Vendor is easy to do business with” and “Vendor values my business” were ranked 3.31 and 3.91, respectively.

Consumers value fair honest dealings over monetary compensation when issues arise: When asked what is the most important thing a company can do from a customer service perspective to keep your business, respondents shared the following:

23.28% indicated that “quick, responsive, timely and efficient” service was the most important thing to them.

14.65% used the words “courteous, respect, polite, honest and sincere” in their response, or alternatively underscored the need for “honesty,” wanted organizations to “live up to their promises” and/or stressed the concept of trustworthiness, underscoring consumers’ desires to be treated in a fair manner.

9.48% used the word “listen” in their response, underscoring the importance of feeling heard and understood.

9.48% used phrases such as “treat me like they care, like I’m important, make me feel appreciated and not like a number,” underscoring the need for personalized service and a distaste for robotic one-size fits all approaches to customer service.

While 6% said they valued omnichannel service and the ability to leverage technology channels to self-serve, just as many (6%) said they valued access to a live person to assist them.

6.03% said the most important thing a company could do was provide “knowledgeable” customer service agents, who gave “accurate information” and could “advise customers, not sell” – stressing the importance of knowledge management in the call center.

Only 3.4% said that monetary compensation or restitution was most important.

“Customer service attributes preferred by respondents illustrate a need for end-to-end, omnichannel customer service,” Scott Hays, Director of Product Marketing for KANA, told Loyalty360.

Specifically, Hays said consumers want fast issue resolution via agents or 24/7 self-service coupled with a full complement of traditional and digital communication channels.

“Customer service executives must put their brands and agents in the best position to expertly manage individual customers’ moments of need within precise and holistic context,” Hays added. “Then they must apply this best-practice, personal approach to the masses. The result? Improved customer experiences, increased loyalty, longer customer retention and lower operational costs.”

The survey was administered via the web from Friday, Feb. 7 through Tuesday, Feb. 11 and was made available to consumers aged 18 to 65+ (random participants). Nearly 70% of survey respondents were female and nearly 70% ranged in age between 36 and 49.

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