Customer Satisfaction Dropped in 2017. Here’s What Businesses Can Do About It in 2018.

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According to the Customer Service Report 2018 by LiveChat, the average customer satisfaction dropped by almost 3% in 2017 compared to the previous year.

Now, it's at only 83.5%.

I don't want to worry you, but the report is based on the data from over 21,000 companies representing 22 industries using live chat and tickets for customer service and sales. All in all, we've analyzed data from 334 million chats and 17 million tickets, so I think you can trust the outcome.

To be clear, it's not my intention to scream here and there how bad things are in customer service area. But it's my job to let you know about the state of things and offer immediate advice on how to work on them. Are you ready for some improvements?

The Reasons Why Customer Satisfaction Metrics Are Down

In 2017, businesses experienced an 8% increase per business in chat demand in comparison to 2016. This means that for every 100 customers contacting these companies, there are now an additional 8 customers requesting live chat assistance every month.

You can work with the existing resources on your team to improve your customer service and level of customer satisfaction -- so read on to find out how.

1. Your first response time needs help.

People might think they can do several tasks at the same time, but can they do it effectively? Not usually.

Let's say you're talking or live chatting with one customer -- Ben. You dove into his case and you were eager to resolve it as soon as possible. But then, along comes the other customer -- Kate -- and she really needs to know if you can send her an invoice for your product ASAP. The best thing you can do in this situation is to take a few seconds' break from Ben's case to answer Kate: "Hi Kate, Yes I can do it for you. Give me a moment so I can download the invoice for you." You then go back to Ben, but in the meantime, you also download Kate's invoice.

Why is it so important to answer Kate so quickly? First response time is important for building trust and not overusing the customer's patience. It's one of the first steps that contribute to the customer's overall experience.

Here are some data from the report: Australia is the country that scored the highest customer satisfaction rate third year in a row. In 2015, it was 92%, in 2016 it was 91% and in 2017, it was 89%. The second country with the best customer satisfaction was Philippines -- which achieved a score of 89% satisfaction.

Even though companies from both of these countries faced a growth in the number of their chats, they were able to speed up their replies to customers: Australia by four seconds and Philippines by almost six seconds, which made them the countries with the fastest response time -- only 27 seconds, on average. Fast response time is something that all companies should aim for.

To see how important this is, try a little thing from Jeff Toister, the author of "The Service Culture Handbook:"

2. You can't solve cases in one interaction.

The most successful companies we surveyed in 2017 were tech companies: software, web hosting, and IT companies achieved 89% customer satisfaction -- far higher than the global average.

What's interesting is that these businesses have some of the longest average handle times. Looking at their happy customers, it's clear that the length of time it takes to solve a customer's problem doesn't impact overall satisfaction -- if you manage to solve the case in one go.

That's an important fact that deserves highlighting. For a long time, customer service team members believed that a quick handle time made customers happy -- but the data proves something else.

If the first response time is quick, and the bond between the rep and the customer is created, then when the case is solved, it won't really matter that it took a little longer. The result is that a customer is satisfied with your service.

3. You don't have a customer service strategy for the future.

A lot of customer support teams start hiring more reps when things start picking up -- and when more customer tickets are coming in. But that isn't always the right approach to hiring to meet customer demand.

This strategy can work in the short term, but when your organization reaches a hypergrowth stage -- when you're rapidly acquiring new customers and making changes to your product or service that your customer support team can't keep up with -- you'll see customer churn increase when there aren't enough reps to meet demand.

Instead, you should plan to scale your team before the demand storm arrives -- using this formula to figure out exactly how many reps you need.

Basic Guidelines to Improve Customer Satisfaction Metrics

Each company should have basic guidelines when it comes to the customer service. For example, what language do you use in the communication with customers -- official or nonofficial? Who's responsible for inquiries on social media? How much time do you have to solve a ticket?

Great employee onboarding will not only result in better customer service provided by new reps but will naturally also give you more satisfied customers.

Devote some time to preparing basic guidelines of your customer service strategy for all new reps -- I guarantee it will dispel a lot of doubts along the way that will save time and improve interactions. Here are some examples:

Basic and advanced knowledge about your product and company

There are things each employee should know very well about the company. Prepare a list of web pages, handbooks, and any kinds of materials reps should read and be able to quote in the middle of the night if asked.

A customer support style guide

How does the support work in your company? How long do reps have to answer chats and solve tickets? Who covers social media inquiries? What is the live chat etiquette?

Communication style you have in your company

Make everyone aware of the communication you use with customers but also on your blog and social media. Whether it's official or funny, it should be consistent. Let reps know what phrases you recommend, and what phrases reps should avoid.

Teach reps how to handle different types of customers

There's always something more we can learn about the communication. There are different types of customers and you should learn how to handle them best.

One thing is for sure: You can never have too many satisfied customers. It's a constant work of improving communication skills and using customer service tools the most efficiently.

If you come up with the right strategy for the whole year to always have somebody to provide customer service, and if you care about improving reps' communication skills, you will significantly improve customer satisfaction.

Want more? Learn how to measure customer satisfaction next.

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