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Customer Service Hindered by Inadequate Technology, Say Customer-Facing Staff

Customer-facing employees are frustrated with the level of customer service they are able to provide, citing inadequate technology and processes that restrict their effectiveness as one of the main reasons, according to new research from Pegasystems Inc., the software company empowering digital transformation at the world’s leading enterprises.

Pega’s ‘The good, the bad, the ugly: 2019 global customer service insights’ study, which was conducted across the globe by research firm Savanta, surveyed a total of 12,500 customers, businesses executives, and customer-facing employees for a one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional perspective on the state of customer service today.

Key findings of the UK part of the study included:

• Resolving customer issues quickly is important – but speed isn’t everything: Although 82% of respondents rank fast resolution of problems and issues among their four most important factors in providing positive customer service outcomes, speed is not the only consideration. Having the most relevant information available to resolve customer issues effectively (69%) and having intelligent guidance on how to solve customer issues (65%) were also ranked among the top four factors. Over a third (43%) rated knowledgable customer service agents as one of the most important aspects of customer service.

• Employees say that they do not have the right tools available to them: Almost one third (27%) of customer-facing employees say they do not have the right technology available to provide optimal service. Forty percent of respondents currently use between four and twelve applications daily in their jobs, making it difficult for them to rapidly respond to customer inquiries, locate customer information, and find solutions. Clearly, having tools that can allow them to be faster and more effective at their jobs is important for customer-facing staff. Forty-four percent say that having a consolidated view of all past customer interactions would allow them to be more effective, and one third state that a unified view of customer data across all channels would also help. Meanwhile, almost one quarter (21%) say they would be more effective if the next best available option for their customers could automatically be provided.

• Customer-facing staff are frustrated with their jobs: It’s no secret that customer service agents have one of the highest turnover rates in the industry; unsurprising when you consider that only 21% of respondents did not experience multiple pain points when providing customer service. Technology could have an important role to play in this, with 43% of respondents saying they are frustrated with passing customers between teams and departments. Thirty-two percent also say that having to manually enter the same information in different places makes them feel the same way. Meanwhile, one quarter (24%) of respondents express frustration at having to prompt customers for information they’ve already supplied on another channel and needing to sign in to multiple systems to get their jobs done.

• Customer service agents want more AI and automation to help them: Two thirds of respondents say intelligent chatbots and virtual assistants would allow them to speed up processes and focus on issues that require human intervention. Sixty-three percent feel the same technology would simplify the customer service job, while 55% feel that chatbots and virtual assisants will become increasingly complementary and better enable customer service professionals in the future.

• Businesses run the risk of falling behind tech-savvy competitors by failing to embrace omni-channel: Two thirds of business decision makers participating in the same research said their business is threatened by competitors using more sophisticated customer service technology solutions. Despite this, less than half (48%) of customer service reps say their customers can use social media to contact their organisation, just 25% provide online chat with a representative as an option, and only 7% currently offer chatbots. Astonishingly, 18% still offer fax as a communication channel!

“Understanding that front-line staff who are happy, productive, and properly equipped to be the most effective they can be will result in more positive customer experiences isn’t rocket science – or at least it shouldn’t be,” said Tom Libretto, chief marketing officer, Pegasystems.

“This study tells us that too many businesses aren’t listening to those who spend every day speaking to their customers to resolve their issues and navigating through what is often inadequate technology. They run the risk of not only losing customers, but valuable, skilled employees as well.

“Keeping track of just one customer throughout their journey within an organization can be a difficult enough process without having to factor in manual tasks, the juggling of multiple applications, and the use of multiple systems,” continued Libretto. “Organizations need to empower their employees with the most relevant and important customer information at their fingertips so they can resolve issues quickly and offer real-time, contextual suggestions on the next best available action.”

• To learn more, download ‘The good, the bad, and the ugly: 2019 global customer service insights’ report here: