Survey: phones still best for customer service

Social media and the Internet have made customer service issues more acute; and holistic, omni-channel support is becoming the norm. However, customers are least satisfied with their service interactions through social media in particular.

Zendesk’s benchmark report released today shows that customers are most often satisfied with phone-based service (at 91%), followed by online chat support (at 85%)—and least satisfied with their service experience through the social channels of Twitter (81%) and Facebook (74%).  These latter channels are of course newer and, in many enterprises, stilled handled by marketing rather than service departments. They are also more often public and seldom as instantaneous as phone and chat support. But the newer, more public Twitter scores almost as well as email (82%), which, though older and more private, may be the slowest and most formulaic of the major service channels.

My guess is that a combination of factors offset the different channels. The telephone is the most human and can provide the quickest service response, though we all know that phone wait times, transfers and ill-prepared or difficult-to-understand representatives can be frustrating. Twitter and Facebook, on the other hand, may be the easiest for customers to access at the height of pique or when a customer feels the need to lash out publicly in order to get a response.

Service satisfaction varies by industry. The more business-oriented and higher price-point sectors that have reason for service interactions other than problem resolution or cancellations (IT services, government and nonprofit and education all at 95%) than consumer-oriented sectors without positive or neutral reasons for interaction (social media, entertainment and gaming, and financial services from 67% to 76%).

Service satisfaction also varies by country. With Canada and Australia scoring over 90%, but China and the United Arab Emirates below 60%. These trends tend to persist and Zendesk has found them to be correlated with the satisfaction of service center employees within different countries as well. Further, these findings somewhat parallel the results of ‘happiness’ surveys that are sometimes conducted with global citizenries. Denmark is not only reliably among the top five countries in in Zendesk’s benchmark, but it has also ranked as the happiest nation worldwide.

Is it thus a coincidence that the customer service firm Zendesk was started by three Danes? Perhaps not. And maybe that is the takeaway from their benchmark. A customer service prayer may be for the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can—and the wisdom to know the difference.