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BizReport : Loyalty Marketing : January 12, 2017

Personal touch for customer service drives retention, loyalty

Despite more service providers moving towards digital interaction, a more personal touch in customer service helps drive loyalty and retention, according to a global study from Verint Systems.

by Helen Leggatt

A large-scale study of more than 24,000 consumers across 12 countries and nine industry sectors reveals that consumers who prefer to do business via digital channels are more likely to swap providers than those who maintain human relationships via stores or contact centers.

When asked how long they had remained loyal to their service providers (see table below), across all sectors 57% had been with them for more than three years. In terms of customer retention, banks led the way with 73% of respondents having been with their bank for more than three years and just 8% less than a year.

The country with the highest retention rates was Japan with an average of 63% followed by France (60%) and the U.S. (55%). However, consumers in the UK were shown to be more prone to switching with just 50% remaining with their providers for more than three years.

Overall, 79% of consumers want the human touch to remain a part of customer service while the complexity of the service request is shown to heavily influence the preferred channel.

loyalty.jpgVerint's study also suggests that consumers who choose to engage with organizations digitally are more prone to switching providers. Just under half (49%) of those who prefer to engage with organizations via digital channels have been with providers for more than three years, compared with 58% who prefer to pick up the phone and 57% who prefer to go in-store.

Meanwhile, consumers who receive good customer service via human interaction are more likely to behave positively toward a brand. Furthermore, after good experiences with such personal interactions 38% are more likely to renew their product or service (even if it isn't the cheapest option), 27% more likely to sign up to an organization's loyalty program, and 19% more likely to leave a positive review.

"As our research shows, consumers feel more positive about a brand when they interact directly with a person, so organizations need to consider how to make the digital experience more personal to avoid increased customer churn," says Rachel Lane, director of customer analytics, EMEA at Verint.

"Our research, which also investigated what service providers and brands believe their customers want, revealed that 91% recognize that customer service online should be quicker, more intuitive and better able to serve customer needs. That means organizations now need to focus on providing a more personal experience across all customer engagement channels to build the foundation for loyal customer relationships."

Tags: customer service, loyalty, research, retention

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