Communication is a key factor in customer success—especially among Canadians who buy from small and mid-sized field-service providers such as plumbers, electricians and landscapers, according to a recent study commissioned by payment company Moneris.
Conducted by Environics Research Group in September, the survey revealed that Americans and Canadians alike are annoyed by customer-service snafus such as inaccurate quotes and long wait times. But Canadians seem particularly miffed by poor communication. More than half (55 percent) of survey respondents in this country said inconsistent communication would result in a bad experience.
That finding suggests Canadian companies should focus at least some of their customer-service efforts on communication. “It’s clear the intangibles of service define the customer field-service experience, and the pain points that could be avoided if service providers were better able to communicate about what is going to happen and when,” says Moneris CEO Angela Brown in a press release.
Unified communications (UC) technology can play an important role in customer-service satisfaction. UC enables an organization’s client-facing employees to quickly reach out to other people in the company for information—a boon when customers want to know when a particular plumbing part will be available for installation, for instance. UC also incorporates various devices including smartphones and videoconferencing systems, so workers can share knowledge with colleagues and clients efficiently.
Canadians aren’t alone in their preference for clear communication. What’s more, field-service companies aren’t the only ones that can benefit from advanced communication technologies. In an article for customer-experience magazine 1to1 Media, Judith Aquino writes that Schuh, a U.K. footwear company, added video-chat capabilities to its e-commerce site. After just a few weeks, the firm quadrupled its online conversion rate and sales increased.
Of course, it’s one thing to invest in the technology. How businesses apply it is another matter. In a column for Entrepreneur magazine, Jason Maynard notes that content is crucial. He reports on a study demonstrating that contact-centre agents who say “sorry” and “thank you” often during customer calls fare poorly in client satisfaction surveys. Extensive use of those phrases indicates a long back-and-forth conversation involving a problem that the customer and agent find difficult to solve.
This could prove to be a real stumbling block for ultra-polite Canadians.
Returning to the Moneris study, it’s encouraging to see that 69 percent of Canadians reported receiving outstanding service from providers. But U.S. consumers seem happier with their businesses; 80 percent of Americans said they’ve experienced superb service. Clearly, Canadian organizations have work to do. For many, better communication should be part of those efforts.