Magazine article CRM Magazine

Most People Prefer Human Interactions in Customer Service: Consumers Want a Blend of Channels, and Not Just the Digital Ones

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Most People Prefer Human Interactions in Customer Service: Consumers Want a Blend of Channels, and Not Just the Digital Ones

Article excerpt

THINK BACK to the last time you really needed to speak to your cell provider, bank, or utility company. Maybe you had a question about a significant overcharge, or you needed some time-sensitive advice. How easy was it to reach someone? According to Accenture Strategy's latest "Global Consumer Pulse Research," U.S. consumers say it is becoming harder to do so, even as companies are working to be more accessible.

As organizations invest in digital technologies and channels to support customer service, they have started to over-rely on these channels. This has given rise to "human-less" customer service, and it's not being well received.

According to the study, which gauges the experiences and attitudes of 24,489 customers globally about marketing, sales, and customer service experiences, U.S. consumers want more human interaction when dealing with companies. Eighty-three percent prefer human beings over digital channels when it comes to solving customer service issues.

The report also found that 52 percent of consumers have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service. In the United States, the estimated switching cost is $1.6 trillion.

Having lost sight of the importance of human interaction, companies often make it too difficult for customers to get the service they need. Many wrongly assume that digital-only customers are the most profitable, and that customer service is a cost. Consequently, they overinvest in digital technologies and channels and lose their most profitable customers--multichannel customers, who want both digital and traditional experiences, but often in very unpredictable combinations.

Almost half (45 percent) of consumers say they are willing to pay more for goods and services if it ensures a higher level of customer service. Physical or in-store experiences are also highly valued among consumers. Sixty-five percent agree that in-store service is the best channel for getting a tailored experience, and 46 percent say they are more willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving service in person than online.

The report reveals that there is huge room for improvement in the delivery of today's customer service.

Seventy-three percent of consumers expect customer service to be easier and more convenient than it is, and 61 percent want it to be faster. …

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