online consumer service

Gladly’s 2020 Customer Expectations, which asks consumers what they expect from brands to determine how American consumers value personalized customer service, engage with support channels and make purchase decisions, revealed three major trends: consumers want to be known, consumers expect customer service to be personalized and consumers reward companies that provide great experiences.

“The world has changed rapidly and dramatically since we issued the survey in January 2020, but we believe that the results apply now more than ever,” said Joseph Ansanelli, chief executive officer at Gladly. “In a time of chaos, consumers find comfort in personalized service — and the connection, value speed and ease it brings.”

According to the report, 79 percent of consumers rank personalized service above personalized marketing in importance. Further, the survey found that consumers expect a company to know the personal history with the brand. The top three things consumers said a brand should know are identifying information (66 percent), previous conversations with the company (56 percent), and purchase history (55 percent).

Concurrently, when a company treats customer service interaction as supporting a transaction case instead of by a consumer’s case, 64 percent of consumers said the lack of personalization “makes them feel like a ticket number.” Instead, consumers expect “one lifelong conversation,” with 86 percent of survey respondents saying they expect conversations with agents to seamlessly move between channels.

“These are uncertain times for both consumers and brands,” Ansanelli said. “Now more than ever, radically personal customer service gives consumers what they want most: connection, speed and confidence in their purchase. It’s at the heart of how brands and consumers develop lifelong relationships.”

Even before the coronavirus quarantine, Gladly’s data finds that the future looks digital with digital channels being used more frequently by consumers. While phone and e-mail channels continue to be used most, Millennials use digital channels including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp more than any other generation.

Gladly’s data further showed that consumers will go out of their way and even spend more money with brands they love for a great experience. Only 17 percent of consumers told Gladly they were “unsure” or “disagreed” with paying more for great service.

“Empowered problem solvers” ranked highest in desired attributes from customer service agents by consumers at 34 percent, illustrating consumers’ demand to speak to agents with authority to answer all questions and resolve any issue. Second, at 21 percent, was an agent who is a “product expert” and 19 percent of consumers who want agents to be “trusted advisers.”