Channel Confusion: Why Leading Brands Are Failing CX Act’s Customer Service Stress Test

In 2014 you’d think businesses would know better, particularly the top brands in major consumer marketplace categories.  By now, they’d have to be aware that just delivering effective service on the phone is not enough and that when customers become frustrated in their efforts to gain assistance on other channels, they’re less likely to do business with your company.

But when customer experience improvement firm CX Act, Inc.,formerly TARP Worldwide, conducted a series of studies to examine and evaluate the customer service channels provided by these leading brands, their findings indicated that most companies were still lagging behind in offering a cohesive customer experience that extended beyond voice to other service channels.

CX Act’s Customer Touchpoint Stress Test provided a comprehensive snapshot of the customer experience across multiple channels – phone, email, chat, and social media. Fifty of of the world’s most prominent brands were involved, including airlines, automakers, financial services, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, insurance, cable/internet, retailers, and supermarkets.

The study was conducted by recruiting existing customers to test responsiveness on day-to-day customer experience issues such as billing questions, product issues, and general inquiries. The goals were to compare service delivery and customer satisfaction across touch points and identify opportunities for improvement that would positively impact ROI and the bottom-line.

Top findings of the study included:

  • Phone outperformed all channels on issue resolution at 86%, yet only 58% of respondents were ‘very satisfied’ with service
  •  Customer experiences were inconsistent, and being a top performer on phone service did not translate to high satisfaction scores on chat (40%), email (22%), or on Facebook (17%)
  • Only 20 of 50 brands tested offered chat and even when chat was offered, quality of service was rated low, with one in three testers failing to reach resolution. However, for those who were successful, time to resolution was fastest among all channels at 9 minutes
  • Only half of the tested companies offered email as a customer service channel, with only one in four companies offering a Facebook channel for customer inquiries
  •  Ease of use continues to be a surprising challenge for brands serving customers: only 52% said customer care information was easy to find on company websites – and when they did, only one in four (24%) found it extremely helpful
  • The greatest concern to brands is the impact of customer engagement on the key ROI metric of “likelihood to buy”: when customers had positive experiences, likelihood to purchase across channels ranged from 88% to 100%; but in negative experiences, likely to purchase plummeted – ranging from 0%-12%.

 With more consumers turning to digital for customer service, especially with young consumers, brands need to take steps now to offer higher quality service via digital,” said Crystal Collier, CEO of CX Act. “Our ‘stress test’ of brands and the consumers they serve shows in startling terms that most companies are surprisingly inconsistent when it comes to providing comprehensive and quality customer experiences. Consistency is markedly absent in both variety of offerings and the quality of those channels. It’s also clear that exceptional customer service via phone does not translate to digital channels – such as email, chat, and social networks.” 


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