I hope I captured your attention with that stat. Netomi just released its Customer Service Benchmark Report for the telecom industry. What caught my eye were the findings about the telecom industry, which includes telephone companies (including mobile phones) and internet service providers. Even though the focus is on a specific industry, the concepts behind these numbers can cross over into just about any industry.
Before we look at the numbers, let me say I’m a pretty optimistic guy. If you’ve been following my work you already know that. But as I read through these reports, I was shocked at the information. Even if there is a margin of error that would make these companies look better by 10 or even 20 percent, these numbers make me wonder if customer service is truly the priority that so many brands say it is. I’m still optimistic, but at the same time, concerned. Let’s take a look at some of the findings and how they went about collecting the data.
Netomi identified the top 1,000 global telecoms based on number of employees. They looked for the companies’ email addresses, monitored response times to emails and more. They wanted to send a simple email that should have warranted a quick response. The email sent to telecoms was as follows:
Subject line: I want to switch providers — What are your best pricing options?
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made my life very difficult. We’re currently using a different telecom service and looking to opt out of the contract. I’m exploring other options and am interested in switching over to a new provider within the next month. I think your brand might be a good fit for me. Can you tell me about your most affordable and flexible options? Thank you.
Pretty straightforward. If I had a potential customer express interest in my services and prices, I would respond rather quickly. So, here are some of the results:
· First, out of 1,000 companies, Netomi could find only 527 email addresses on the companies’ websites. That’s just 53%. Note: Our research at Shepard Presentations indicates that the telephone is the number one way most consumers reach out to a company, and email is number two. It surprises me that such a consumer-focused industry would make it hard to email.
· Of the 527 emails sent, only 147 received responses. Sixty-five percent of the emails were ignored. Furthermore, only 28% of telecom companies actually responded to the email, while 7% sent an auto-response but never addressed the question.
This report on telecoms comes on the heels of the Customer Service Benchmark Report for retail and consumer brands. Its stats won’t make you feel much better.
· Only 56% of companies have an easy-to-access email address. And, some of the companies that do offer email addresses listed them in places the customer might not think to look, such as within the privacy policies, terms and conditions, etc.
· Seventy percent of the companies that were sent an email never responded. This absolutely is amazing-in a bad way!
· There is a missed opportunity here, as 80% of the companies emailed don’t have autoresponders, which could at least direct the customer to a website with FAQs and other information. Not to mention that an autoresponder will at least give the customer a sense that the email was received.
· It took an average of 36 hours to get a response to a customer service email. Only one in five retailers responded within 24 hours. Ten percent of the companies took more than five days to respond (which skews the average).
· Another study conducted by Simplr also yielded some interesting results regarding response times. Its report on the State of CX in 2020 found that the overall average email response time was 48 hours for all companies, and 25.5 hours for top-performing companies. Seems like a long time. No wonder that 27% of customers said their brand loyalty has diminished as a result of these long wait times.
Here is my optimistic outlook based on my own research and reading hundreds (if not thousands) of reports over the years. I see general customer service getting better. Email, as popular as it is, has always been a problem. A bad email response-or no response at all-doesn’t necessarily mean the company delivers bad service overall. But it can lead to bad outcomes that are hard to bounce back from, as shown in Simplr’s report.
Most companies are trying. Their customers’ expectations are higher. Regardless of the company and industry-both B2C and B2B-most are compared to customer service rock stars like Amazon. As a result, the bar is much higher than ever before. Some companies rise to the occasion. Others are trying. A few laggards just don’t get it. Certain industries do better than others. Overall, I believe most companies want to deliver a level of service that meets expectations. It’s not for lack of desire. It’s lack of execution.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.