Here at Support.com we recently conducted an online survey of 1,000+ consumers, asking them about their support experiences with brands at different stages of their customer journey all the way from consideration, to purchasing, to onboarding, to enablement, to continued loyalty.
The results of the survey were fascinating. Some of the data confirmed what we’d suspected: The sophistication level of today’s consumers – and the way they approach their technology – is changing. Dramatically.
At the same time, some of the specific data surprised us. What today’s consumers find “personable” in their interactions with a brand and what these consumers value as part of their customer experiences shed new light into how brands should approach customer service and support.
The outcome of the survey points to the fact that companies need an entirely new approach to supporting customers in order to increase customer satisfaction, which is invariably linked to brand loyalty and top line revenue. Here are some of the highlights and key insights from the survey.
Connected Consumers want “connected” self-service
To start with, 89% of all respondents identified themselves as either very connected or somewhat connected to technology they buy. We call these “Connected Consumers.”
The survey data on Connected Consumers confirms industry predictions that consumers of all ages are gravitating toward a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to buying, installing, using and troubleshooting today’s products and apps. Whether it’s a remotely controlled home climate-control system, a fitness band controlled by a mobile app, or something we traditionally don’t think of as “connected” – like a household appliance – self- service support is the preferred choice of most consumers.
For instance, 50% of the surveyed Connected Consumers indicated they already prefer a self-service approach to addressing product issues post-purchase. That percentage rises to 60% among consumers ages 18-29. But interestingly, 32% of Connected Consumers prefer to both have access to self-service support and to have easy access to a professional support representative in case they need it.
This means that companies need an easy way to offer access to intuitive, guided self-service, yes, but they also need to provide a seamless experience for customers who want to escalate to a support representative. And this includes omni-channel presence, ability to maintain context across interactions with customers, and easy-to-use technology for support teams to receive customers’ self-service history and add value beyond that.
Customer support ties directly to the brand promise
In our survey, when asked about the most memorable brand experience (outside using the brand’s product or service itself) – before or after purchase – the largest group of Connected Consumers (40%) said that the post-purchase aspects of dealing with install, set-up, technical issues and returns make up the most memorable brand experience. And 79% agree that it is important to have a positive perception of a brand after making a purchase.
And this is important to brand value. More than half (57%) of responders think about the brand when considering a purchase of any other product; while almost half (48%) think about the brand when looking to upgrade or replace an existing product. And at the same time 57% of responders say they think about a brand when there is an issue (e.g. defect, technical issue, setup problem) with the product or service purchased.
A warning to brands: you (and your products) need to be more proactive
Within the statistics lies a warning for companies selling to consumers: 36% of respondents said that more proactive customer service and support – that is products that can self-diagnose, or proactively suggesting fixes before a customer encounters a problem – would improve their customer experience.
This means that products need to have built-in support that becomes a part of the customer experience, rather than being a separate process that takes the user away from what they were doing. This transition – from the traditional support model in which the diagnostic process started when the customer contacted the support department – to today’s world in which the diagnostics process must be driven by data and technology, is happening quickly.
The ultimate vision is that support will be so integrated into the use of our technology products that consumers will not realize they’re being supported.
To download a full version of the “Connected Consumers and the Most Personable Brand Experience” report visit: www.support.com/connected-consumers-brand-experience.