Customer Service Report 2018

key customer service findings and trends

Introduction

The report contains key customer service findings from 2017 and trends for 2018. Its main goal is to bring knowledge to business owners and customer service decision makers. If you want to stay in the game, you should keep up with the latest trends.

Use the customer service data to compare your results with those of other companies from the same industry and see how you performed. Did you do a good job or is there still some room for improvement? Let's find out!

What data we considered

This report is based on data gathered from January 2017 to December 2017. We also looked at data from 2016 to show trends.

We’ve analyzed data from over 21k companies representing 22 industries using live chat and tickets for customer service and sales.
 We’ve chosen only companies that had at least one chat daily.

All in all, we’ve analyzed data from 32 billion website visits, 334 million chats and 17 million tickets.

Who participated

For this report, we had the pleasure to work with ecommerce experts and top customer service influencers. They commented on our customer service metrics and key findings from the report. Based on the numbers from 2017 and previous years, they also offered predictions on customer service trends for 2018.

What’s in it for you

Using the data and conclusions from this report, you will be able to plan your customer service goals and priorities for 2018. You also will be able to compare your results to other companies from the same industry and see if you need to improve your customer service.

01

Main customer service metrics

Customer satisfaction

83.54%

down from 86.35% in 2016 -2.81%

The global benchmark for customer satisfaction. You should make sure that your score isn't lower. Sadly, this year's trend shows a drop in customer happiness when compared to 2016. There’s still room for improvement.

First
response time

51s

5s faster than in 2016 -9.1%

An average business keeps speeding up its first response time. If you don’t want to fall behind, use the tips we shared below, which will allow respond to customer questions faster

Handle time

11m 34s

50s faster than in 2016 -6.5%

The amount of time it takes to finish a customer case over live chat remains relatively unchanged. The main takeaway here is to close a case within one contact, even if it results in a longer handle time.

number of cases – chats and tickets

976 / 52

up from last year’s 924 / 48

During 2017, a typical business handled 976 chats and 52 tickets monthly. It’s an increase from the 2016 numbers, which means that live chat becomes more popular among online users.

02

Key findings

1. Demand for live chat grew by 8.29%

This means that businesses noticed a 8.29% average uptick in the number of chats. The number of tickets, compared to 2016, increased by 8.3%.

2. Customer satisfaction dropped in 2017

The average customer satisfaction dropped by 2.81% in 2017 compared to previous year. It’s now at 83.54%.

3. SMBs can’t handle the chat demand

Tickets are created every time when a website visitors aren’t able to chat with an agent on a website. It means that the more tickets, the more unanswered inquiries website visitors had.

While enterprise–grade businesses were able to decrease the number of tickets by 6%, small and medium companies (1-49 customers) had a 19% increase in the number of tickets they handle. It means that small businesses are not able to cope with the incoming number of inquiries.

4. Holiday Season is the busiest for Retail

November and December are the months with the highest number of chats. During this period, an average Retail business had a 9.8% increase in the number of chats, when compared with the rest of the year.

5. Tech companies had the highest customer satisfaction

Companies that scored the highest customer satisfaction marks this year are the tech companies. Customer service level for Software is at 90,6%, Web Hosting is at 89,6% and IT it at 86,8%.

6. Small and medium businesses struggle to keep up

Small (1-9 employees) and medium businesses(10-49) had the lowest average customer satisfaction: it was at 81% on average.

7. Annual picks in chat number for Automotive, IT, and Gambling

The first four months of the year were the busiest for Automotive and IT companies. The second part of the year, starting from August, is the busiest for Games and Gambling businesses.

03

The use of live chat in online customer service

1.Demand for live chat grew by 8.29%

In 2017, businesses experienced a 8.29% increase per business in chat demand comparing to previous year.

This means that for every 100 customers contacting these companies via live chat, there are additional 8 customers monthly for each company! This increase proves that live chat is becoming a more natural channel for customer-business relations.

increase in chat demand comparing to previous year For every 100 customers, every company had additional 8 customers contacting them via live chat monthly.

From Zapier's vantage point, 2017 saw a consistent and regular increase in usage of chat and support tools, especially when it comes to SMBs. Automation has allowed smaller businesses to scale up their customer service and keep up with demand, even with lean team setups.

Speedy response time remains the most significant factor for customer satisfaction and loyalty, and we encourage all businesses to make empathetic and quick responses a priority in 2018. It doesn't matter what tools you use to run your business either, since automated workflows can connect all of the needed apps for a seamless, end to end process, no matter what industry. The rising popularity of LiveChat integrations on Zapier is a great example of how both small and large teams can leverage SaaS tools to provide stellar support to their users, and we're excited to see continued growth in the space over the next year.

2.Customer satisfaction dropped in 2017

The overall trend in 2017 indicates that while the chat demand grows, customer satisfaction goes down.

In 2017, customer satisfaction is lower by 2.81%. To put it differently, for every 100 customers who rated their chatting experience, 83 customers were happy with it (3 less than in 2016). This change isn’t that bad, however, we should aim to have higher satisfaction, not lower.

Live chat demand is growing, so make sure that you respond fast and you give your customer enough attention, even if it means that the chat will last longer. Companies with short response time and long handle time have more satisfied customers!

There are also other options you can try. Consider creating a knowledge base with the most common questions. Self-help has proved to be one of the best ways to save the precious time of support agents. It decreases the number of repeatable questions and tickets.

figure_02_v03

customer satisfaction dropped in 2017 For every 100 customers who rated their chatting experience, 83 customers were happy with it (3 less than in 2016).

A slight dip in satisfaction is always concerning. It’s a good idea to investigate your company’s own customer satisfaction rating to identify trends and learn what’s driving your company’s score up or down. One encouraging sign is customer satisfaction for chat remains higher than aggregate service benchmarks such as The American Customer Satisfaction Index (76.7 for Q3 2017). This suggests customers may generally like chat more than other channels.

If you're finding a downward trend in NPS at the same time of year, year-over-year, it's worth understanding the factors influencing data collection outside of the core offering. Does your company have an understanding of macro factors influencing your customers' NPS? When is your product top-of-mind (i.e. after a big event) versus passive (i.e. around the holidays)? Understanding macro factors influencing NPS is important when timing data collection.

3.SMBs can’t handle the chat demand

There is only an 8.3% ticket increase among all companies (4 additional tickets monthly, on average).

This number doesn’t look bad, but the thing is, it varies depending on the size of a company.

According to our data, smbs had a 19% increase in the number of tickets comparing to the previous year

While enterprise companies (50+ employees) managed to decrease the number of tickets (-6% when compared to 2016), the small and medium companies (1-49 employees) didn’t do so well. According to our data, SMBs had a 19% increase in the number of tickets comparing to the previous year.

The reason why it’s so alarming is that tickets are created every time when a website visitor did not reach a live chat agent. Also, tickets are created for cases that couldn’t be resolved in one go.

It means that:

  • Smaller companies are not able to solve cases during one chat (agents might be lacking proper training),
  • Smaller companies don’t provide enough support (and therefore instead of chatting, their customers have to send inquiries via tickets).

There are several ways SMBs can solve their customer service problems. The most important thing is to find out what the most frequently asked questions are. Having that, you can implement a chatbot on your website to answer these questions. It can help you two ways: it will allow your agents to focus on more complicated issues and will allow you to extend chat working hours without the need to hire additional people.

At the same time, big companies can cope with a growing number of chats thanks to having dedicated customer service support and employee onboarding (including solid training).

It doesn't surprise me that small businesses generate more tickets. They often serve other small business and thus have more customers. Our enterprise CRM competition brags about 4000 customers, while we have 10s of thousands of paying customers and many more freemium users. Large businesses also often benefit from their own customers providing Tier 1 support since enterprise customers generally have implementation leaders who create personalized trainings. Given small businesses have many fewer resources to handle this extra support burden they need all the leverage they can find from smart tools like LiveChat and Highrise.

4.Holiday Season is the busiest for Retail

October, November and December are the months with the highest number of chats for Retail businesses every year. It’s the beginning of Holiday Season so there’s no surprise customers are looking for sales and deals during those months.

In October, each Retail business had 1057 chats on average. In November, it was 1144 and in December – 1129. It means that during this three-month period, Retail businesses had 13.5% more chats than for example in February.

As shoppers who grew up on chat services (think AIM to Snapchat) take over a more significant portion of the consumer base, brands are needing to add additional chat options to their repertoire. From live chat on your website to Facebook Messenger, SMS and everything in between –– it's less about preparing for the onslaught of customer responses and more about having a good system in place to make sure you are fielding questions and answering them intelligently and quickly every single time.

NUMBER OF CHATS PER INDUSTRY IN 2017

5.Small and medium businesses struggle to keep up

Big companies have better satisfaction results than the small businesses

When it comes to the customer satisfaction score, you might be surprised to learn that big companies have better satisfaction results than the small businesses.

Small(1-9 employees) and medium businesses(10-49) had worse customer satisfaction: it was 81% on average. When compared to bigger companies that score an average of 86% customer satisfaction, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

04

The best customer service results in 2017

1.Happy customers in Australia, third year in a row

Australia scored the highest customer satisfaction rate third year in a row. In 2015 it was 92.27%, in 2016 it was 91.35% and in 2017 it was 89.2%. Seems like customer service goes pretty smooth down there.

Australia, in 2016 had 7k chats on average and last year it was 7.2k. Their chats number grew by 2.7%

Philippines is the country with the fastest response time: only 27 seconds on average

The second country with the best customer satisfaction was Philippines. They scored 89%. Filipino companies kept their customer satisfaction on the same level (88.77% in 2016), despite the higher number of chats. The average business in Philippines had 23.8k chats in 2016 and, in 2017, it was 26.9k. It means their chats grew by 13%.

Even though companies from both countries faced a growth in the number of their chats, they were able to speed up their replies to customers. Australia has sped up first response time by 4 seconds and Philippines by almost 6 seconds, which made them the country with the fastest response time: only 27 seconds on average. Fast response time is something that all companies should aim for. Nobody likes to wait and, if you want to really feel what it’s like, try Jeff Toister’s advice.

Customers choose chat for the convenience. Try a small experiment and start the timer on your watch or smart phone and then wait 56 seconds. This can feel like an eternity when you have an issue that you want resolved. Companies should strive to cut that time down to 30 seconds or less to create a better customer experience.

2.Tech companies have the happiest customers

Not much changed since the last year. Tech companies lead the way when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Software, Web Hosting and IT companies have 89% of customer satisfaction, on average. This is way higher than the global customer satisfaction rate of 83.54%. These businesses have one of the longest average handle times. Their cases might take more time to handle but they are able to solve them in one touchpoint and customers seem to appreciate that. It’s clear that short handle time is not crucial for successful customer service.

Certainly, solving a customer’s problem in one go is a key to happiness, and companies should definitely focus on it by establishing key metrics, tracking and reporting on them frequently and consistently. They should also test various methods and systems to improve those metrics.

But companies in 2018 should also focus on reducing their contact rate overall by investing in intuitive and comprehensive self-service options for customers to meet them ‘in the moment’, anticipating their needs. This can range from in-application experiences to robust knowledge bases to active user communities. Additionally, companies can try more of a proactive outreach, for example by automatically invite visitors to chat. These measures, coupled with fast response times and one-time closures, will create a complete service that will significantly boost customer happiness.

05

Conclusions and suggestions for 2018

1.Try to solve the case in one touch, no matter the handling time

As you see from the results of the Tech companies, which have the happiest customers, handle time doesn’t matter if you solve the case in one go.

For a long time, we lived with the belief that only a quick handle time will make a customer happy. It probably started with call centers, where companies had scripts that employees had to follow and needed to end a conversation after a set amount of time. Otherwise their performance would be rated as bad by their boss. This approach is wrong.

First response time is important for building trust and not overusing the customer’s patience, but what matters the most is whether you are able to help a customer right when they ask for it. Try this approach, don’t rush and don’t rush the customer. Focus on solving the case and leave the customer satisfied.

2.Try additional hiring at the end of the year

Sometimes companies face the increase in chats towards the end of the year. If that’s the case in your industry, consider seasonal hiring. The proper time to start hiring and scheduling the customer service agents’ work is a few months before the busy season. For example, Retail always face more chats towards the end of the year, – it’s Holiday Shopping Season time. That’s why August is a perfect month to start doing the hiring and the proper onboarding.

3.Try to keep customer service on the same, high, level throughout the whole year

It’s not easy to have the same performance throughout the whole year. But with the right planning and organizing, it’s completely possible. If you decide to hire additional agents, the more significant amount of chats won’t bother you anymore. But there’s also one challenge customer service agents need to face starting from November – customers’ impatience.

Most people are affected by the Christmas magic madness. At the end of the year, they’re tired and irritated, so customer service agents might need to double their efforts. It’s important they reach out to their empathy, emotional intelligence and transfer it into positive communication.

4.No matter how small business you run, always have somebody on chat

When you offer LiveChat on your website, you need to be aware that customers might want to talk to you 24/7. There’s always a bit of disappointment when they see a message “there’s no customer service agent available on chat.” You can handle this in a few ways.

Always have somebody on chat during working hours and try to have a quick first response time. After working hours, you can set up an offline form which customers can use to ask questions. There's also the option to have somebody from your company check LiveChat once in a while to keep the communication flow. You can also try BotEngine to build a chat bot that answers the most popular questions for you.

5.Discover LiveChat’s features to improve your performance

If you run a big business and have a dedicated support, you can use scheduling to set up shifts for your agents with LiveChat. There won’t be any offline hours in your support which will translate into higher customer satisfaction.

It’s also worth to set up goals to see if your chats end up with the desired result (like a sign up or a completed application). There are many other LiveChat’s features that can help you provide consistent and high-quality customer service and we encourage you to discover them.

Give LiveChat a try

Want to improve your customer service? Start 2018 with LiveChat on your website, on your social media or in your apps to convert users into customers over chat. Sign up now for free 30-day trial and get 50% off your first payment!

Authors

LiveChat Content Writers and their friends

Olga Kolodynska

Olga Kolodynska

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Olga writes thoughtful articles on LiveChat Blog. She also sends newsletters to LiveChat's customers. In her free time, she loves hiking in the Polish mountains, cooking dinner for her family and watching Netflix.

Justyna Polaczyk

Justyna Polaczyk

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Justyna used to work as a business analyst and a journalist before she started her career as a LiveChat Content Writer. She believes that good writing should be like a good teaching: based on data, beautified with good storytelling, and seasoned with a sense of humor.

Malgorzata Buksinska

Graphic DesignerMalgorzata Buksinska

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These informative figures you can find in this report are creations of Gosia. She makes it her mission to ease visual communication. Aside from that, she is also obsessed with typography and letters in general. On a personal note she is a cat lover and avid reader.

Lukasz Labedzki

Web DeveloperLukasz Labedzki

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Lukasz is a versatile developer who can cope with anything you throw at him. From backend architecture through metrics and integrations to email templates, there’s nothing he hasn’t tried his hand at. In his free time he enjoys mountain climbing and studying. A mad scientist at heart, Lukasz is passionate about quantum physics, astrophysics and space exploration.

All metrics and data from 2017

Key customer service metrics by company size

company size avg. chats per month customer satisfaction handle time response time tickets number
1-9 980 81.95% 11m 55s 42s 44
10-49 1202 79.54% 10m 59s 56s 89
50-99 1154 84.95% 12m 21s 62s 71
100-499 2122 85.25% 12m 0s 59s 112
500-999 1974 87.42% 13m 56s 60s 91
1000+ 4036 86.80% 11m 39s 61s 125

Key customer service metrics by country

country avg. chats per month customer satisfaction handle time response time tickets number
Australia 1051 89.28% 12m 9s 52s 49
Brazil 3257 88.34% 10m 44s 48s 253
Cambodia 2070 87.49% 12m 31s 24s 12
Canada 971 86.93% 8m 17s 64s 59
China 1868 84.05% 15m 9s 57s 298
Hungary 10325 66.15% 13m 45s 132s 942
India 2282 79.89% 10m 25s 43s 88
Indonesia 4181 87.06% 10m 30s 29s 13
Malaysia 1538 84.88% 12m 35s 40s 21
Philippines 3692 89.02% 10m 36s 27s 48
Poland 1265 85.02% 12m 22s 87s 57
South Africa 3399 84.09% 10m 20s 58s 209
Turkey 10945 67.46% 7m 46s 61s 168
United Kingdom 806 85.54% 11m 44s 64s 72
United States 830 87.58% 12m 36s 56s 59

Key customer service metrics by industry

industry avg. chats per month customer satisfaction handle time response time tickets number
Automotive 882 85.34% 11m 7s 60s 68
Education 881 86.92% 11m 7s 58s 64
Entertainment 2286 83.57% 10m 58s 40s 74
Finance 1468 84.11% 11m 54s 61s 123
Games and Gambling 3889 79.76% 10m 8s 37s 48
Healthcare 628 85.71% 11m 51s 68s 65
IT 1187 86.84% 16m 30s 58s 73
Manufacturing 497 86.93% 15m 55s 74s 55
Marketing 1157 83.01% 10m 54s 47s 64
Media and Telecom 4344 87.54% 10m 11s 55s 100
Professional Services 598 84.18% 13m 35s 63s 65
Real Estate 600 82.26% 11m 12s 59s 31
Retail 1054 86.68% 12m 29s 61s 91
Software 870 90.69% 15m 59s 64s 52
Support Services 2970 83.63% 11m 12s 42s 107
Travel 1395 75.94% 13m 7s 106s 110
Web Apps 1595 86.10% 11m 50s 47s 68
Web Hosting 1766 89.64% 17m 53s 64s 25
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