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Report: Consumer Boiling Points Prove Bad for Business in 2015

Nearly half of consumers cut company ties due to poor customer service in past year
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Dec. 3, 2015 – A new national survey from cloud communications provider Corvisa proves that consumers are getting fed up with poor customer service and as a result, businesses’ livelihoods are at stake.

In the third annual Customer Service Report of over 1,200 U.S. consumers, 48 percent of respondents said they have stopped doing business with a company due to negative customer service experiences in the past year. Additionally, nearly a quarter of millennials would stop doing business after just one negative interaction.

Some frustrated customers reported going so far as yelling at the call center agent (18 percent) or hanging up the phone (40 percent), signaling that businesses need to pay closer attention to consumers’ cries or run the risk of losing the customers they worked so hard to get. So what pain points are these consumers facing? According to the survey, long hold times, robotic-sounding agents and lack of proactivity top the list.

Hold Times Hurt the Bottom Line
Although the Internet has become a major avenue for communication, 41 percent of customers still rank phone calls as their top method of communicating with customer service; this number increases to 56 percent when customers are frustrated.

But despite being such a crucial form of communication, customers believe companies have plenty to work on when it comes to phone calls. 78 percent of respondents would hang up if they had to wait on hold for more than 15 minutes, and a quarter would be lost at just five minutes or less. In fact, lowering hold times is an area that the majority of respondents (57 percent) believe businesses can improve on—up 16 percent from the 2014 Customer Service Report.

Data shows that a change would not only benefit consumers. Customer service wait times cost U.S. businesses $130 billion annually, according to a recent study by ClickSoftware.

Robotic Agents are Undermining ROI
The importance of phone calls also means that customer service agents need to have a personal touch on their calls. According to the study, 99 percent of consumers think customer service agents sound scripted at times, and 25 percent believe training agents to sound more natural should be a top customer service priority for businesses.

“It’s hard for agents to convey empathy with the customer when every word is pre-planned, so most companies are actually more successful when they move away from the ‘stick-to the-scripts’ mentality,” said Brandon Knight, vice president contact center optimization for Corvisa. “A more effective approach is to instill general conversation guidelines and workflows so that agents can collect specific information and then communicate in a more authentic way.”

Proactivity Should be a Priority
Proactivity is key to excellent customer service experiences, but up to 43 percent of companies rarely or never proactively reach out to customers, even though 80 percent of consumers say they would be impressed if a company did. But it’s important to be helpful and not just promotional.

“If customers aren’t calling in, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from some proactive outreach that could help them down the line,” said Corvisa CEO Matt Lautz. “Proactive care is looking at the behavior of your customers, how they are using your product, how they are interacting with you and calling them when you see something could be better or before they notice there’s a problem.”

Prepare for a Text Message Takeover
Furthermore, data indicates that companies may be able to capitalize on this demand for proactive communication with text messaging. In fact, 77 percent of consumers are open to getting text messages from companies, particularly when it comes to fraud alerts (56 percent), reminders for things like payment, appointments, reservations, and travel status (54 percent) and notification of sales, discounts or special promos (49 percent).

Not surprisingly, up to 88 percent of millennials surveyed were open to receiving texts from businesses. As millennials will surpass the baby boomers this year as the nation’s largest living generation, it’s important for companies to note this trend in communication preferences and adjust accordingly.

Fraud Fears Impact C2B Communication, Increase Demand for Inbound Info
However, consumers are hesitant when it comes to providing information to companies. In fact, 78 percent of consumers report hesitating to share personal information with companies in light of recent major data breaches. However, with fraud alerts topping the list of reasons consumers are willing to receive texts from companies, there is still a window of opportunity for businesses to use proactive outreach to mitigate consumer concerns and improve customer relationships.

To see a more detail on the 2015 Customer Service Report findings, visit here.

Methodology
Through November 4 and November 6, 2015, Corvisa surveyed 1,248 U.S. consumers via Instant.ly. The margin of error is +/- 5.00 percentage points.

About ShoreTel, Inc.
ShoreTel, Inc. (NASDAQ: SHOR) is a leading provider of brilliantly simple unified communications (UC) products, cloud services and IP phone systems powering today’s always-on workforce. Its flexible communications solutions for contact centers and cloud, onsite and hybrid UC environments eliminate complexity, reduce cost and improve productivity. Recognized for its industry-leading customer experience and support, ShoreTel’s innovative contact center solutions, application integration, collaboration tools, mobility, SIP trunking and business phones enable users to communicate and collaborate no matter the time, place or device, with minimal demand on IT resources. ShoreTel is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., and has regional offices and partners worldwide. For more information, visit www.shoretel.com.

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