When people are considering which companies to do business with, good customer service outranks convenience and reputation.
Unfortunately, overall customer satisfaction is falling, down 2.2 percent, from 94.6 percent in 2013 to 92.5 percent in 2018.
But customer expectations continue to increase. Nearly half of customers have expectations higher than they were a year ago.
Companies like Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb are built on an entirely new kind of customer experience, and this has raised the stakes for everyone.
These businesses stand out for their ability to simplify the purchasing experience, communicate directly with consumers with digital tools, and use powerful data analytics to improve operations.
San Francisco, CA-based customer service and engagement platform Zendesk has released its customer experience trends report which is based on industry research and global product usage data from 45,000 customers world-wide, 18,000 of them in the US.
The report shows that companies across industries and geographies lack the capabilities needed to keep up with ever increasing customer expectations.
The report shows a distinct age bias. Older baby boomers are less likely to view AI as something that is helpful for simple or complex issues, being available for support 24/7, making it easier to find answers, or makes support more personalized. They generally prefer human agents.
Younger generations, Gen Z and millennials, are generally more optimistic about the benefits of AI in customer service. Half or more of these younger customers agree that AI will create more personalized support for them.
The report shows that younger people are much more comfortable with self-service. Almost three-quarters of Gen Z respondents (72 percent) and more than half of millennials (52 percent) said they start with a search or a company's help center.
Nearly 70 percent of customers expect support teams to collaborate so they don't have to start over when contacting the same company through a different channel.
This means companies need to manage customer data across all aspects of the customer experience and ensure a single record of the customer persists across channels, devices, and requests.
Younger people also tend to be more enthusiastic about contacting support over chat (43 and 44 percent), or social media (16 and 20 percent).
They are also more likely to want support teams to offer personalized recommendations and keep track of the credit card from their last purchase.
Interestingly, Gen Z and millennials are also most wary of data misuse. Almost a third of each group wants companies to keep as little information on hand as possible.
Older generations are likely to care more about companies keeping track of their order history, order status, and personal details.
Jeff Titterton, chief marketing officer at Zendesk said: "We are seeing a widening gap between what customers expect and what companies can deliver.
Whether you're a 100-year-old financial services stalwart or a fast-growing consumer tech start-up, your customers are comparing you to the best experiences they've ever had."
Gen Z -- the born-digital generation -- expects a "more human" experience online. So, if this is true, the bigger question for future generations is what it means to be human in a digital world.
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