UK consumers turn online for customer service help

~ Three quarters of consumers would rather search for information than call
customer service departments, finds OnePoll ~

Salesforce.com the enterprise cloud computing company, is urging businesses to explore and embrace the growing range of customer service channels after a survey found UK consumers are increasingly turning online for information about products and services.

The survey of 1,000 consumers, conducted by OnePoll, found just eight per cent contact the customer service department first when seeking advice or information on a product or service and only 10 per cent would visit the retailer as a first port of call. Instead, the vast majority (75 per cent) turn to a search engine such as Google.

The poll also reveals that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of consumers have had a bad experience with customer service in the UK and two-thirds have changed brands, service provider or store as a result. Furthermore, over a third (35 per cent) of respondents said they had complained about a product or service publicly online.

“The customer service landscape is rapidly changing with consumers using a variety of different channels to research and communicate with brands. Companies that wish to maximise revenues and maintain loyalty must embrace these platforms – whether they be on or offline.” said Tim Barker, Vice President EMEA Strategy at salesforce.com

Nearly half (44 per cent) of people now use some kind of social media, such as social networks or forums, for customer service purposes and a third (34 per cent) now email customer service departments in the first instance. Furthermore, over half (52 per cent) expect companies to monitor social networks and online forums and four out of ten (43 per cent) would be impressed by a company that responded to a complaint made on these channels.

The research reveals that it is the younger age groups driving adoption of social media for customer service queries, with twice as many of those under 24 using Facebook, and Twitter for customer service purposes as those aged 34 and over. Similarly, the use of Internet forums, message boards and search engines are consistently higher in each successively younger age bracket.

“Conversations about businesses and their products and services are moving online and the use of social media and online portals for customer service purposes are clearly rising rapidly,” said Duncan Baker, director of strategic marketing and communications, The Institute of Customer Service.

“People now want to communicate with the companies and brands they deal with in a wide variety of ways and they’re prepared to go elsewhere if their needs aren’t met. Companies can benefit hugely from adopting all communication channels thereby ensuring they are monitoring and meeting their customers’ needs at every turn.”

The Service Cloud 2 (http://www.salesforce.com/uk/crm/customer-service-support/) is the next generation of customer service, empowering companies to join and manage customer conversations in the cloud. Users benefit from real-time service conversations across any channel, from the call centre and email to Facebook and Twitter, all in one system.

As a result, customer care professionals can join conversations about their company, products and services in places that have previously been out of reach for the organisation.

“Those companies that want to retain and build a rapport with their customers need to ensure that their customer care agents can monitor and engage people seamlessly - whether that’s on the phone, over email or through more modern techniques such an online portals, real-time chat or social media channels. By harnessing the power of the cloud, businesses can ensure that their customer service is scalable and responsive, adapting easily to the changing consumer landscape,” concluded Tim Barker, Vice President EMEA Strategy at salesforce.com.

About salesforce.com

Salesforce.com is the world’s largest provider of customer relationship management (CRM) software. For more information about salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com.

Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase salesforce.com applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce.com has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “CRM.” For more information please visit http://salesforce.com/uk/, or call 0800 0921223 .