French Companies are Falling Behind in Terms of Multi-channel Customer Service

According to an international study conducted by Zendesk and the Loudhouse firm, French consumers lament the lack of responsiveness and efficiency of current customer service operations, as well as a lack of standardization and consistency

PARIS, FRANCE – December 3, 2013 – Zendesk, which publishes programs for managing customer service operations, has just released the results of its annual survey, entitled “The challenge of multi-channel customer service operations,” concerning the behavior and attitudes of consumers in relation to customer service. A total of 7,000 people were surveyed, including 1,000 people in France, 18 to 64 years of age and distributed throughout 7 countries, in order to detect major trends for the future of customer service operations.

The complete analysis is available at:

Consumers in all countries have high expectations of customer service operations.According to the survey conducted by Loudhouse, an independent consulting firm contracted by Zendesk, 73% of consumers in the countries surveyed see companies as being too focused on their multi-channel sales strategies and not enough on customer service suited to changes occurring in recent years. With the boom in e-commerce and transformation of buying habits, consumers have become more demanding of companies and now expect customer service operations to be irreproachably efficient and standardized across all available channels. However, if most companies have included multi-channel operations in their sales plans, the same cannot be said for their customer service operations.

According to the survey, whether they hail from Australia, the U.S., France, Brazil, Germany, Japan or the U.K., only 7% of the consumers surveyed said they were satisfied with the smooth flow and consistency of customer service operations, whereas 37% want to be able to speak with the same customer service agent, regardless of which channel they use. It has thus become essential to offer comparable and consistent customer service operations for all channels and points of contact made available to consumers, whether by e-mail, phone, chat functions or actions at the point of sale.

“Dealing with customers does not stop at the check-out counter,” said Jeremie Alexandre, Development Manager at Zendesk. “In general, companies are unable to match their multi-channel strategy with their customers’ expectations in terms of customer service operations. In order to meet current consumer demands, they have to set up flawless customer service operations on every available channel, in the most standardized and consistent manner possible.”

The phone is still the preferred means of communication, despite the recent boom in the use of e-mail and social media.The lack of standardization in customer service operations across all of the available channels is driving consumers more and more to use the phone for this purpose since it is viewed as a reliable means of contact. 54% of the consumers surveyed prefer the phone for their initial contact with customer service, deeming it to be the quickest way to get an answer. Those consumers who may start out using other channels frequently come back to the phone.

If their e-mail goes unanswered, 71% of those surveyed state that they pick up the phone. If the message they left on social media seems to have ended up in the dead letter department, 55% repeat their concern by phone, and if they get no response on their first try, 54% keep calling.

This is a big, red flag for companies at a time when the use of social media and mobile applications is soaring.

Customer service operations seen through the lens of recognizably demanding French consumers.True to their reputation, French consumers are more likely to contact customer service than their peers in the other countries surveyed. For example, 62% of those questioned contacted their bank in the last 6 months, and 67% had gotten in touch with their land-line or mobile phone company.

Speed of resolution: the French are the most impatient. When it comes to response and resolution times, French consumers have very high expectations! 60% of French survey respondents expect an immediate reply when they call customer service by phone, and 73% expect to have their problem solved in less than 30 minutes.

If contact is made by e-mail, for 68% of the French respondents, the expected response time changes to a half day, and 88% expect to have their problem solved within 24 hours. These numbers speak loudly, showing that the main expectations of French consumers are about rapidity and efficiency, along with complete uniformity of customer service operations across all the channels.

Consistent and efficient customer service operations are a major challenge for companies. One of the main conclusions of the Zendesk study was that consumers in the countries in question have the impression that companies do not go to the same lengths for customer service as they do for sales operations.

This is all the more significant – and surprising – if one is familiar with the effect of customer satisfaction on sales. A consumer who is not satisfied with customer service operations may very easily decide to head for another company, and may also make his or her discontent known to friends and family. Proof of this can be found in the latest results of the study: 9% of French consumers said they were ready to share their negative experience with customer service operations on social media. 14% are ready to seek out another company due to poor handling by customer service, and 40% are ready to denigrate it to those around them.

If consumers strongly tend to prefer the “good old” phone, it is certainly not out of sentimentality, but doubtless because companies still have a long way to go to achieve a consolidated view of customer behavior related to after-sales service rather than just in terms of sales.

About Zendesk:

Zendesk builds cloud software for better customer service, bringing companies and their customers closer together. With Zendesk, companies engage directly and openly with customers, building more meaningful customer relationships that last a lifetime. More than 40,000 customers use Zendesk to provide service to more than 300 million people worldwide. Founded in 2007 and based in San Francisco, Zendesk has offices in seven countries and funding from Charles River Ventures, Benchmark, GGV Capital, Index Ventures, Matrix Partners and Redpoint Ventures.  In France, Zendesk clients include: Canal+, La, Norauto, Libération and Gîtes de France. For more information:

This is a translation of a press release originally issued in French.


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