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Report Finds Disconnect Between What Consumers Want and What Businesses Think

Think you already know the top self-service options your customers prefer? You may be surprised at what options survey respondents cite as most important.

There are serious disparities when it comes to technologies that consumers want and those that businesses “believe” consumers expect, according to the “2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report” from NICE, a customer experience cloud-based platform.

The report is based on survey results from 1,000 consumers and 320 people in senior management with customer care, customer experience, contact center IT, along with stakeholders and strategy departments in multiple businesses.

For example, just 31 percent of businesses offer customer service via chat, according to survey results. Yet more than half (52 percent) of consumers prefer chat to other channels.

Other knowledge gaps between businesses and consumers from the report include:

  • While 11 percent of businesses prioritize “smarter” self-service technologies, a much higher percentage of consumers — 36 percent —surveyed say they want businesses to make smarter self-service options a priority.
  • Around 46 percent of consumers say they go to Google search first thing, yet only 15 percent of business leaders think that a Google search is the first step for consumers seeking information.
  • More than two-thirds of consumers (81 percent) surveyed say they’d like more self-service options. But business leaders surveyed believe that percentage is closer to 60 percent.

“This 21-point gap is a huge risk, where businesses are not putting enough emphasis on their need to grow self-serve capabilities,” states the NICE report.

“Proving this demand from the consumer, 95 percent of businesses are seeing a growth in self-service requests, with 34 percent of consumers citing faster response times as their number one benefit. The number one request from consumers to improve self-service capabilities is that customer service will be smarter (34 percent), having the ability to digitally address more complex tasks than are currently being handled.”

  • One of the top digital channels most consumers (52 percent) prefer is chat. Yet only 31 percent of businesses offer chat as a primary communication channel.

Closing the gap between business leader beliefs and consumer preferences

Businesses that recognize the importance of expanding and investing in digital channels in 2022 should look to expand self-service options with three top priorities, according to the report.

  • Expanding chat capabilities: 47 percent
  • Expanding service options on the company website: 44 percent
  • Improving visibility in online search results: 42 percent

While businesses surveyed believe that the majority of consumers are very satisfied with self-service tools, only 15 percent of consumers would say the same, increasing the risk of losing customers to competitors.

Businesses also underestimate how quickly poor digital experiences can put them at risk for losing customers, who are often quick to abandon a brand, suggests the NICE report.

“41 percent of consumers say that they will look to the competition after just two poor digital interactions, while 25 percent of businesses predict consumers will leave that fast, believing that it will take three or more poor interactions to cause a consumer to abandon a brand.”

A majority (95 percent) of consumers surveyed say that customer service, including easy access to digital channels, online self-service and professional agents has an impact on their brand loyalty, with the NICE report noting that consumers who contact support more frequently are even more likely to cite the importance of digital channels:

“No matter where a business is delivering a service, the company needs to pay attention to customer experience. Consistency across digital, phone, agent-assisted and self-service is critical, as all of these interactions impact brand loyalty,” says the report.