A new study from IDC and LogMeIn found that fast and effective support will be a competitive differentiator for companies looking to win-over digitally transformed customers and employees. According to the study “Support Services as a Competitive Differentiator”, nearly 67% of consumers said that customer satisfaction was more important than price when doing business with a company, yet nearly 30% of companies still say that reducing the cost of support is more important than customer satisfaction.
With the rules of customer and employee engagement changing, this disconnect is setting companies up for a negative long-term impact.
Increasing Customer Expectations
Today’s connected world demands that support and service teams take a greater role in driving customer engagement and loyalty. Digitalization, including the adoption of mainstream social platforms and the use of online forums, is acting as an accelerator on this shift. This is turning customer support improvement into an urgent imperative and making business practices increasingly transparent.
According to the study, customers rank better communication and fast problem resolution among their top priorities for customer support. While an overwhelming 89% of respondents believe that having a support agent they can communicate with is the most important aspect of a support experience, companies are challenged to meet this goal due to the various nuances of each user and individual devices. In fact, almost one-third of respondents said that support took a long time to resolve their issue while 24% said the problem was never resolved. With 64%, of consumers reporting that good support experience result in advocacy and additional purchases from the company and 60% reporting that they share bad experiences as well, residual impacts of customer support satisfaction have impacts far beyond a single engagement.
“Today’s digital disruption signals the need for a fresh support strategy. Service teams are being called upon to fulfil a greater purpose and are in a prime position to create success stories that can lead to better brand awareness, improve sales conversions, and ultimately, repeat business,” said Jennifer Cooke, Research Director, IDC. “As the research shows, the degree to which support is effective is now a competitive differentiator and companies need to approach it in a more proactive and predictive way or risk damaging relationships with customers, employees and partners.”
Expectations for Internal IT Are Also on the Rise
Negative support experience has a widespread impact on a company beyond just lost customers and revenue. Internal IT teams are under similar pressures from their end-users. In nearly all the topics surveyed, employee experiences and expectations of their internal IT teams matched those consumers have of customer support underscoring the importance of efficient support across the board. In addition, faulty internal IT support is costing companies in productivity of employees. When users don’t receive effective support, 52% said that they waste time because they can’t perform their jobs. In addition to not doing their jobs, 45% of the time they pull another colleague away from their own jobs and ask for help. The net impact is a dramatic decrease in productivity.
Developing an Effective Support Strategy
Companies are facing a variety of hurdles when it comes to developing a modern and effective support strategy. These challenges range from decreasing or stagnant budgets for support tools (41%) and lack of executive support (20%) to inability to scale with current tools and technologies (42%). Even for those that have made some changes to their internal processes or invested in technologies (50% of respondents), only 25% have been able to drive strong relationships due to the lack of adaptability and intelligence capabilities.
The survey did find that technologies like remote support are helping alleviate some of the pain customers associate with support today. Nearly 75% of organizations reported using remote support solutions within their environment and 85% of end users saying these technologies helped resolve their issues more quickly than other methods of support. As companies look to continue to mature their support organizations, they will need to look adopt these technologies as well as ones that will enable emerging artificial intelligence and automation to help meet the needs of changing users, devices and geographic locations.
“Customer service inextricably linked with the overall success of a company,” said Dave Campbell, Vice President, Customer Engagement and Support at LogMeIn. “This becomes even more apparent when discussing customer support specifically. In today’s competitive landscape, support organizations are being viewed two ways – as a competitive advantage or a detriment to success. As a result, finding the right balance of people, process and technology will be key for companies to mature their support strategy to a point where it will create long term loyalty, customer advocacy, and business growth.”
In August 2017, IDC conducted two surveys to better understand how existing support technologies were meeting the needs of a changing user base. One survey focused on the end-user experience, and the other survey examined enterprise and service provider support programs and the tools they used, with the goal of assessing the current state of support, identifying areas of success, and uncovering areas that needed improvement. The 1,400 survey respondents were from a broad mix of industries, company sizes, professional roles, and geographic regions.