In a previous role where I worked with and advised customer support leaders regarding their customer experience, there often came a time where I showed them a key customer experience (CX) metric like Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS). Quite often the leader would look at me and ask, “Is that rating good or bad?” and then they’d follow up with “How does that compare to your other clients or other companies in our industry?”
Benchmarking, which I define as the ability to gain insight into the practices of other companies and individuals doing similar work, can be incredibly powerful. And that’s no different for CX professionals. This is the very reason I, as a practicing customer support and CX leader, look forward to the CX Trends report from Zendesk each year.
The report is truly an opportunity for us busy CX and customer support practitioners to take a step back from the daily minutiae of serving our customers to learn from our peers and see where global CX is headed in the future. In this article, I share five statistics from the report that I found particularly interesting. Let’s get started.
“61% of customers would now defect to a competitor after just one bad experience.” - 2022 CX Trends Report
The report goes on to state that this jumped by 22% from the past year and that 76% of customers are likely to cancel after two negative experiences. Yikes! Just the thought that one bad customer experience might cause a customer to churn, without giving us so much as a chance to make it right, is enough to keep the average CX leader up at night.
In light of these metrics, there’s one critical point that I want to highlight here. Note that these stats don’t merely talk about bad customer support experiences. They are talking about bad customer experiences in general.
CX encompasses every interaction a customer has with your brand. This includes their use of the product, marketing communications, self-service, sales, sign-up and onboarding processes, and much more. Customers may be leaving without ever speaking with a contact center agent.
While staffing our contact centers with friendly, well-trained agents is important, we must set our sights higher, aiming to continuously improve the entire customer journey if we’re going to meet these rising customer expectations.
“Only 18% say they’re extremely satisfied with the number of channels they’re offering customers.” - 2022 CX Trends Report
There are more customer support channels now than ever before. Not only do we have phone, email, and chat, but just about every social media platform offers some form of messaging. And in the name of being everywhere our customers are, we’re supposed to provide stellar service on each of those channels, right?
Wait just a moment.
The report goes on to say that “less than 20% rated their resolution speeds as extremely strong.” This right here is the key. Having worked in environments where we offered support on a limited number of channels, I’ll admit that there will always be a handful of customers who are upset because you don’t offer a certain channel. And you’ll most definitely be hounded by myriad salespeople imploring you to add more channels because “everybody’s doing it.”
But what that last metric about resolution speeds tells me is that more than offering every channel under the sun, it’s imperative that for the channels we do offer, we respond with both a high degree of quality AND efficiency. The majority of customers will adapt to your channel offering provided that the experience on those channels is excellent.
“72% (of company leaders) say their organization views customer service as a critical business priority.” - 2022 CX Trends Report
Later in this section, this statistic is contrasted, stating that among company leaders “40% say they only view (customer service) data once a month, or even less frequently.” It goes without saying that if customer service is indeed a strategic priority for your business, leadership must be attuned to what’s going on between contact center agents and customers.
The contact center interacts with customers all day, every day. They are very aware of the top reasons customers contact support and they also know why customers are churning and which of your competitors they are churning to. All you need to do is to ask.
Here’s a helpful piece of advice when you do ask about those top contact drivers. Be sure to ask “Why?” several times. Better yet, read customer emails and listen to calls on the topic. Map out the customer journey that takes them to the point of the problem. Not only will you learn about this customer pain point but you’ll begin to empathize with the customer and the customer support team.
Only then will you be truly equipped to improve your business.
You can't say customer service is
a strategic priority for your business
and not check in on contact center data.
“Only 29% of agents say they are very effective at collaborating with other departments.” - 2022 CX Trends Report
The quote goes on to say that 28% say the same about their ability to find the information needed to respond to customers.
Let’s break down a common scenario in a typical contact center. A leader looks at their average handle time (AHT) metric and sees that a certain new agent has a significantly higher AHT than the rest of the team. Perhaps they go so far as to put this agent on a performance improvement plan, which might as well be called a “fast-track-toward-firing plan.”
When we dig deeper, why is the agent’s handle time so high? Here are some ideas:
- The agent works the dreaded night shift and has no one to go to with questions.
- The company either doesn’t have an LMS (Learning Management System) or internal knowledge base, or it’s been a year since that content was updated.
- The agent works at home and routinely posts questions in the company collaboration tool and finds that it takes their overworked supervisor more than 10 minutes to respond — if they respond at all.
- The engineering team is 100% focused on building the product and has no time to create new tools to empower agents and eliminate the need to escalate certain tickets.
I could go on and on, but in this scenario, I hope you can see how incredibly shortsighted it is to reprimand the agent for a high AHT without digging into the root cause. The focus should first be on empowering support agents with the tools, training, and resources necessary to do their job successfully.
Oh, and when it comes to AHT, tools like Tymeshift can help you understand where agents spend their time and spot the aspects of their job where they could use extra coaching and training.
“66% of customers give AI (artificial intelligence) a thumbs up for making their lives easier.” - 2022 CX Trends Report
The topic of AI is here to stay when it comes to the customer experience — and I applaud Zendesk for not limiting the AI conversation simply to chatbots. The fact of the matter is that an AI strategy with a sole focus on chatbots would be a grave error and we need to take a step back and understand the goal of AI in the first place. Let me know how this sounds:
The goal of AI in CX is to make it easier for customers to achieve their goals.
With that goal in mind, be sure to consider where AI can boost your agent and customer experience in a variety of different areas. This could be a chatbot to help your customers self solve issues, but it could also be a bot or some sort of assistive technology to help your agents find answers faster as they support customers. It could also be the WFM solutions that help you better forecast volume for staffing decisions or it could give you insight into every one of your customer interactions to better understand what’s driving your call volume.
I could go on and on. As you listen to sales pitches from eager sales folks touting the latest in AI, always go back to the goal I shared earlier. And if you’re not convinced the technology will make life easier for your customers and employees — or conversely, it will actually aggravate them — don’t be afraid to demand better.
Back to benchmarking
I’d like to come back to one more thought on benchmarking. There is value in getting the pulse of your industry and understanding how your customer support and CX operation compares — but we must not stop there. That’s merely a benchmark.
The real, and incredibly important, work of making continuous monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly improvements is where our focus should ultimately lie. It’s okay to look over your should once in a while but that does nothing in and of itself to improve your customer experience. Now, let’s get to work!
Finally, if you haven’t had a chance to read the 2022 CX Trends Report, it’s worth the time. We’d love to hear what insights you gained from it.
Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn and cofounder of the CustomerServiceLife blog. He has more than 20 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high-performing teams. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, CCaaS, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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