Over the past two years, the Internet has become our conference room, gym, doctor’s office, personal gathering place—basically, our whole life. With consumers spending more time online than ever before, companies have had to rethink their customer service experience. Businesses need to gain a clear understanding of the type of digital interactions customers want instead of relying on intuition.
To help, we’ve rounded up 31 customer service statistics that provide key insights into the preferences and expectations of today’s consumers. These customer service stats will also give you a glimpse into what next year holds for CX.
The impact of great customer service
Creating an excellent customer service experience means going beyond meeting the basic requirements. Aside from responding to customer support requests quickly and empathetically, you also need to anticipate what else you can do to ensure your customers are completely satisfied with your company. Use these customer service statistics to your advantage to help your company build a better CX.
1. More than 65% of people have higher expectations for customer service today than they did three to five years ago. (Netomi)
Based on this stat, brands can assume that excellent customer service will be increasingly crucial for building customer loyalty and long-term success. Millennials, in particular, want service to be prompt and tailored to their needs.
2. If provided with great service, 62% of customers will recommend a brand to a friend. (Gladly)
Loyal customers can help generate revenue for years to come—not only through their own purchases but also by becoming a brand ambassador and recommending your products or services to others via word of mouth, reviews, or social media.
3. 83% of consumers cite good customer service as the most important factor—outside of price and product—when deciding what to buy. (Khoros)
Good customer service is among the main reasons people decide to do business with you. Let that fact fuel your team’s work and give you confidence when you’re justifying your department’s value to leadership.
4. 58% of consumers believe CX is a deciding factor when making buying decisions and choosing one brand over another. (Sitel Group)
The phrase “CX is a brand’s greatest differentiator” may be a bit cliché, but it’s grounded in truth. For a significant portion of American buyers, the quality of the customer service experience a business provides is just as important to them as the products or services it provides.
5. 77% of consumers think good customer service is critical to earning brand loyalty and generating business. (Netomi)
The quality of your company’s customer support has a major impact on whether you maintain long-term relationships with your buyers or experience churn. By providing great customer service, you’re more likely to gain brand advocates who act as champions for your brand, products, or services—leading to more purchases from new customers.
The cost of bad customer service
You don’t need to read a collection of stats to know that substandard customer service is damaging to your business. But in the day-to-day minutiae of handling tickets, it’s easy to forget just how consequential bad customer service can be. These poor customer service stats are a helpful reminder for customer service representatives to always be on their A-game.
6. 50% of consumers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience, and 80% will switch to a competitor after more than one bad experience. (Zendesk)
One poor customer service experience is often reason enough for customers to churn and take their business elsewhere. However, Gen Z is more tolerant than Millennials when it comes to sticking with a company after a bad customer service experience.
7. 20–33% of customers rated their provider’s online services from “needing improvement” to “horrible.” (Airkit)
Many consumers believe that the companies they purchase from could afford to upgrade their CX—particularly in the digital space. Consider sending your buyers a CSAT survey to gather customer feedback and measure customer satisfaction with your online services.
8. Only 19% of consumers believe customer service is exceeding expectations. (Gladly)
Today’s consumers expect seamless conversations with customer support reps that involve follow-ups, proactive product recommendations, communication via social media, and more. Consumers don’t seem to find many companies that go beyond the basics, so you stand to gain a lot if you can figure out how to provide an exceptional customer service experience every time.
9. 64% of consumers aren’t able to get help or solve their problem through their provider’s customer service. (Airkit)
Customers often experience long hold times when dealing with call centers and give up. Reduce live agent wait times by expanding your self-service resources—such as chatbots, FAQ pages, and help centers—and analyzing resolution times to see if certain team members need extra training or assistance.
10. 40% of U.S. companies report that the main challenge they face in optimizing the customer journey for CX is a lack of interdepartmental collaboration. (Statista)
Cross-functional collaboration helps customer service agents solve problems faster and with more authority. When you create efficient systems for agents to tap into the expertise of employees across the company, it boosts customer satisfaction scores, agents’ abilities, and ultimately, revenue. Facilitating interdepartmental collaboration will likely be a top priority for companies in 2022.
The ROI of good customer service
Many executives are beginning to understand that providing a positive customer experience and investing in customer service pays off, but some still aren’t sold. Tie your customer-centric initiatives to your company’s bottom line by showing leadership these powerful customer service statistics and data points.
11. 75% of customers are willing to spend more to buy from businesses that give them a good customer experience. (Zendesk)
Both companies and consumers agree that CX has become increasingly important over the last year—so much so that most customers will spend more money with businesses that understand this and prioritize CX over other factors of the buying process.
12. 82% of customers will spend more money on companies that deliver great online service. (Gladly)
Self-service support empowers customers to answer their own simple questions, but when it comes to more complex issues, consumers value talking to knowledgeable agents who can guide them toward the best solutions.
13. 62% of business leaders agree that more customers are making buying choices based on CX than they were in 2018. (Forrester)
With the current focus on delivering a customer-centric experience, companies can’t afford to come up short on CX preferences and expectations. Again, bad customer service could be a “make or break” component in regard to customers spending money with your company.
14. A mere 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profits. (Bain & Company)
It’s simple—the longer a customer stays with your company, the more revenue they generate. Another bonus of investing in customer retention? Brand loyalty. Loyal customers will often refer others to your company through word of mouth or social media.
15. Teams who are very connected show a profitability increase of 21%. (GoRemotely)
The customer makes up only half of the CX equation—your customer service teams need to feel supported, too. When your staff feels connected, they’re more likely to be motivated at work because they know their colleagues have their back. Set your agents up for success, and they’re likely to do the same for the company.
The benefits of omnichannel customer service
Consumers report that one of the biggest customer service pain points is a lack of connection across all support channels. Customers will often become frustrated—and churn—if they have to repeat themselves to different agents throughout their support experience. But they want the option to contact companies on the channels they prefer, such as text and messaging apps. Support teams should consider taking an omnichannel approach, which integrates multiple channels into one streamlined workspace.
16. 35% of companies plan to invest more in adding service across channels. (Zendesk)
The pandemic put countless aspects of life into perspective, forcing businesses to reevaluate their priorities. With buyers becoming increasingly tech-savvy, companies have had to evolve to keep up with customer demands—specifically, offering a better experience across customer service channels—or they risk getting left behind.
17. 47% of consumers have increased their use of digital channels to communicate with businesses in the last 12 to 18 months. (Vonage)
The spikes in digital communication during COVID-19 were not merely workarounds for the time. Many customers who embraced digital engagement channels—including messaging, live chat, and social media—during the height of the pandemic have not reverted back to traditional channels like phone or email.
18. 41% of sales leaders say their customers now want to communicate digitally more often than prior to the pandemic. (Zendesk)
Customers have shown an increased preference for navigating the purchase process digitally, particularly while still in the wake of COVID-19. The transition to a more digital experience was already underway, and the pandemic only accelerated this trend. To keep up with consumer expectations, provide them with an array of digital channels for customer service interactions.
19. 40% of consumers cited “multiple options for communicating” as the most important feature of a company’s customer service department. (Business Wire)
Today’s support agents must be equipped with software and systems that allow them to quickly and seamlessly communicate with customers on their preferred channel. Ideally, they can handle omnichannel communication from one central platform, like a CRM, to save time and minimize context switching.
20. 40% of consumers say they’ve used three or more channels to communicate with customer service reps. (Airkit)
To better understand and meet customer needs, it’s crucial to see how customer service interactions tie together across different channels. Offering multiple channels is great, but if conversations stay siloed, customers can still become frustrated. Whether buyers reach out via phone, live chat, or messaging, the conversation history and context should travel with them from channel to channel. This makes it easy for customers—they don’t have to repeat the same information each time they speak with an agent on a different channel. It also enables agents to deliver quicker, more personalized support.
The power of customer service automation and AI
Automation is making it increasingly easier for customers to solve their own issues, while artificial intelligence (AI) is boosting agents’ efficiency by taking care of straightforward questions and redundant tasks.
21. 86% of customers now expect online self-service options. (Microsoft)
The increase in demand for self-service is likely due to advancements in customer service technology, like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Chatbots, for example, can provide answers to basic queries or send customers links to available resources that guide them to the right solution. Such technologies make self-service simple to use for both the customer and the agent.
22. More than 59% of consumers rated their AI customer service interactions at least an eight out of 10. (Statista)
Most customers are pleased with their AI-based interactions. More consumers will likely be happy with the technology in the next few years, as AI-driven support tools like chatbots improve.
23. Nearly 17% of customers rated their AI interactions a perfect 10 out of 10. (Statista)
Again, it appears a growing number of consumers are satisfied with conversational AI and other similar technologies.
24. 68% of agents report feeling overwhelmed—automation and AI can help ease their burden. (Zendesk)
Many agents are facing burnout because they’ve been expected to carry heavier workloads and learn new systems or processes just to keep up with demand. By leveraging AI-powered technology to handle simple inquiries or repetitive tasks, you’re freeing up your human agents to focus on more complex customer issues. This not only leads to faster resolutions but also helps support agents keep their ticket backlog manageable.
25. 79% of customer service leaders plan to invest in more AI capabilities over the next two years. (Deloitte Digital)
When integrated strategically, AI technologies enable companies to deliver better CX by empowering agents with customer data and other tools that make it easier to solve customer problems.
26. 60% of customers agree with the phrase, “I prefer to resolve issues on my own when shopping online.” (Gladly)
Most buyers contact customer service with straightforward inquiries—usually related to shipping updates or questions about returns—that don’t necessarily require them to speak to a representative. Companies that give consumers the power to find answers on their own through knowledge bases or predictive messaging tend to see higher customer satisfaction and also benefit from saving agents’ time.
The importance of the human touch
Technology is great for enhancing efficiency and producing consistent results, but customers want to know they’re cared for, understood, and respected, which requires a human touch from support agents.
27. 76% of customers expect personalization. (Zendesk)
Consumers today want companies to use their data to provide tailored experiences. Personalized customer service could mean using their preferred communication channel, sending recommendations based on their purchase history, and more.
28. 68% of customers will spend more with brands that understand them and treat them like individuals. (Khoros)
Research shows that it’s in your company’s best interest to ensure customers feel valued and understood. Encourage agents to spend time getting to know their customers and recording what they learn in your CRM, so the knowledge is accessible to other agents. This makes it easier to form emotional connections with your buyers.
29. According to consumers, the top three qualities of a customer service agent are “willingness to help” (60%), “ability to solve my issue” (60%), and “knowledge about the product or service” (58%). (Business Wire)
Despite the omnipresence of technology in consumers’ daily lives, people are still important to the customer service experience. A machine could potentially deliver the help customers need, but a human touch is still crucial to building trust with customers and encouraging them to stick around.
30. 54% of customers want to buy from companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in their communities and workplaces. (Zendesk)
Many customers want to support businesses that share values similar to their own. By making your company’s priorities public, you’re showing customers that you’re not just playing all sides to gain revenue.
31. 75% of consumers prefer an authentic human voice over a perfectly crafted brand message. (Khoros)
People want to feel like they’re talking to a friend, not listening to a sales pitch. Considering this stat, businesses should focus more on cultivating relationships with their customers and rely less on scripted language. Remember to keep your customers at the center of everything you do.
Shape your CX for 2022 by considering facts about customers in 2021
This year’s customer service statistics paint a picture of where your buyers’ preferences currently stand. Use these facts to begin building your customer service and CX strategies for the coming year. By committing to providing excellent customer service consistently, you’ll build a loyal and engaged customer base. A CX platform like Zendesk can help set your company up for success and ensure you exceed customer expectations in 2022 and beyond.
CX Maturity among SMBs of North America
Zendesk partnered with ESG Research to create a framework around CX maturity and CX success to help leaders at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) identify where they stand and build a roadmap for the future.