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Brands Struggle to Address Changing Consumer Behaviors and Needs During the Pandemic

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Only 16% of consumers said brands handled call volumes and service requests exceptionally well, according to new CallMiner study

CallMiner, the leading provider of speech and customer engagement interaction analytics, released a new research study – Customer Experience Insights from the Pandemic: Brand Performance, Consumer Preferences and Lessons Learned. The study uncovers how brands responded to the pandemic, the ongoing impact on customer preferences and behavior, and how organizations can leverage newly gained insights to deliver exceptional customer experience now and going forward. CallMiner surveyed more than 2,000 consumers in June 2020.

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“We set out to discover how brands performed during the pandemic and uncovered much more, including a growing demand for human-to-human connection and service,” said Eric Williamson, chief marketing officer at CallMiner. “Our research found that 77% of consumers called customer support despite warnings of long wait times and encouragement from brands to use self-service channels. Fifty two percent said they used the phone for customer service more than usual during the pandemic, preferring it over social media and self-service options.”

Select highlights of the study include:

  • Brands struggled to meet consumer needs. Most organizations failed to monitor and adapt to new customer inquiries, requests and desires. Nearly 40% of respondents said 75-100% of their calls mentioned coronavirus, yet 30% said agents were only “somewhat” able to answer their coronavirus-related questions or concerns with accuracy and credibility.
  • Customers value speed, empathy and flexibility. The top three customer service qualities that consumers value during the pandemic are speed to resolution, empathy and flexibility, and the ability of agents to answer questions quickly.
  • Remote contact centers caused internal and external challenges. Sixty-nine percent of respondents were aware that most call center agents were working from home. Sixty percent encountered issues with at-home agents, including delays to information, noise and disruptions, the inability to process certain requests, and abrupt hang-ups or failed transfers.
  • Connecting emotionally is key to brand differentiation. Of the customers that switched providers during the pandemic, nearly 45% said they would have stayed if brands delivered a better customer experience or connected with them on a human level.

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CallMiner found that consumers who recently switched providers contacted customer service more often throughout the pandemic than those who didn’t switch, and 80% of consumers said they will stay loyal to the brands that provided great customer experience during the pandemic.

“Extracting and operationalizing consumer insights is especially critical during times of crisis, when preferences and needs change rapidly. Brands must empower customer service agents with the intelligence they need to respond and connect emotionally with customers, and leverage insights from interactions to proactively address concerns and improve the customer experience,” said Paul Bernard, CEO of CallMiner.

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