KANA Software conducted a survey of 2,000 consumers and found that poor customer service is eroding customer loyalty and confidence in retail brands. The research shows that, as we’ve said before, retailers really do need to start improving their customer service if they wish to retain their customers. As customer service experts ourselves, we wanted to give our take on the research.

The research highlighted that one demographic in particular (the young) needs to be given extra attention as brand’s improve their customer service abilities.

All age groups identified repetition as a problem. Customer service channels such as phone support, where a customer often has to repeat their problem to the different departments they are transferred to, are often the cause of such frustration. Text based customer service can avoid such friction by allowing the company’s representative to quickly read through previous interactions with the customer rather than having them repeat it. Phone support can work in a similar manner if customers aren’t passed from one rep to another or the information from one call is quickly passed to the next operator (even a brief written transcript could be passed on, typed as the customer explains their issue).

Almost half of respondents (48%) said they had to repeat information during their last communication with a retailer. Repetition is a particular problem for young people reaching out to retail customer service departments though. Those aged under 35 are the ones having to repeat themselves the most with one in 20 repeating themselves at least five times.

30% of UK consumers have become less loyal to retail brands in the past five years. One-quarter of those customers identified poor service as the main reason for this decreased loyalty.

With the growth of social media and other technologies such as live chat, consumers are expecting to be able to receive high quality customer service across a range of channels. If a brand has a strong social media presence then their customers will expect to be able to receive help through this channel. They also want to be able to receive help in real time. Even if email responses are fast or they don’t have to hold on the phone for too long, this won’t do.

However, many brands still simply offer the traditional customer service channels (email and phone). Consumers want to be able to access the right channel for them, and be able to switch across to another channel whenever they want. When they switch channels they also don’t want to be repeating themselves and want to be receiving consistent answers and quality of service throughout their interactions.

The Chat Shop’s co-founder, Jonny, recently published a post on e-care channels. It’s based around a McKinsey report and is a must read for anyone concerned about how to offer the correct customer service channels to their retail customers, especially their younger retail customers. Check it out here.

The moral of the story is this statistic. Of those who feel less loyal to retail brands, 37% of 18 to 24 year olds cite service as the key factor versus just 20% of those aged 65 and older. If you’re trying to attract and retain customers, that means you might need to think hard not just about the customer service element but about optimising your site to deliver the best ecommerce conversion rates.

If you want to keep your customers’ loyalty (rather than having to find new ones) and build a respectable retail brand then you have to offer the customer service to go with your products. Customer service needs to be pre and post-sales. It needs to be efficient and easy to use. It should be accessible in a number of ways so that everyone can get help the way they want it. And most of all it needs to be consistently fantastic.

Feel free to chat with us if you need more help with your retail customer service (for any age group).