- In the 2017 Customer Service Barometer from American Express and Ebiquity, 81% of Americans say businesses are meeting or exceeding their customer service expectations, a major increase from 67% in 2014, according to a press release. Forty percent also say they feel businesses are increasing their focus and attention on service.
- Consumers will reward companies that get service right, spending up to 17% more with companies with excellent service. Millennials were willing to spend the most, up to 21% more, for great service, followed by men at 19%. Millennials were also the happiest with the service they're receiving, with 84% saying businesses are meeting or exceeding expectations.
- The survey also highlights the growing fondness for self-service and digital tools for customer service inquiries. More than 60% said their go-to channel for customer service issues is a digital tool, including websites, mobile apps, voice response systems and online chat. But, for more complex issues, like complaints or payment problems, customers still prefer to speak to a real person by phone or face-to-face.
The jump in the percentage of consumers who say businesses are meeting customer service expectations suggests businesses are taking the right steps to enhance interactions. That even more millennials — who tend to be heaviest users of digital touch points — are happy with customer service experiences could reflect how digital technology is rewriting customer service strategies.
Digital and self-serve options are one of the easiest ways to quickly connect with customers and deliver resolutions, reflected in how many consumers opt for digital, according to the report's findings. Many companies are embracing digital customer service tools, including chatbots and artificial intelligence, in an attempt to meet customers' expectations. Marriott is using chatbots to enhance guest experiences through Facebook Messenger and Slack with the addition of WeChat and Google Assistant. The company also recently unveiled ChatBotlr, an AI-powered tool that handles guest requests via text message, at its Aloft hotel brand.
AI is the topic of many marketing conversations these days. So much so that the Association of National Advertisers declared "artificial intelligence" the Marketing Word of the Year for 2017. Marketers are becoming more aware of AI's potential for handling a variety of service-related tasks as they look for emerging technology that will better connect brands with customers.
Customers are increasingly reaching out to businesses via social media to get quick responses. In the Customer Service Barometer survey, 35% said they used social channels to reach businesses, compared to only 17% in 2012, and 84% of those said they received a solution to their issue.
No matter how innovative the channel, consumers continue to value personal connections and getting their problems solved. Getting a suitable answer is a major factor in identifying what makes good service. Personalized service and feeling appreciated as a customer also remain just as important as ever to consumers.