It’s not simply enough to say that consumers prefer using the phone for customer service issues, although research suggests that this is the case. Instead, a recent study from Verint [download page] indicates that in some instances, other channels such as email and in-person visits are preferred.
Examining 11 different customer service situations, the Verint study finds that the phone is preferred for the majority, ranging from asking questions about a bill to registering a complaint, having a bill refunded, and fixing a product or service. But consumers slightly prefer talking to someone in person when closing an account, using email to give positive feedback, and relying on online tools to change account details.
The report identifies a common thread running through channel preferences: complexity. For simple customer service requests, for example, consumers note a preference for digital channels. As the tasks become more complex or complicated, a majority of consumers prefer human interaction, led by the phone but followed by an in-store visit.
When averaged across customer service situations, there are some differences among the generations in channel preferences, although the phone and in-store service remain the top-2 for each cohort. Not surprisingly, though, Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to express a preference for digital channels such as email, web self-service, mobile apps, and social media.
Further, when it comes to the channels that consumers want brands to offer, live chat and web self-service tie as the most desirable ones for Millennials, while it’s a battle between in-store and phone for the other generations.
Digital customer service experiences need to improve before they can take precedence over human interactions, per the study. Indeed, two-thirds of respondents are looking for digital customer service channels to be “faster, more intuitive and better able” to serve their needs, and only 44% believe that digital and self-service options offer a better overall experience. Separate research suggests that brands make it easier for consumers to contact them by phone than by digital channels including web and mobile self-service.
Consumers also don’t see a need for the human element to go away: 83% believe that speaking to a customer service rep on the phone or in-store will always be important. And the research shows that it will be important for brands, too. In fact, the results indicate that when they have a good customer service experience on the phone or in-store, consumers are more apt to display certain positive behaviors towards the brand than when they have a good experience online.
- 38% more likely to renew their product or service, even if it isn’t the cheapest option;
- 27% more likely to sign up to an organization’s loyalty program; and
- 19% more likely to leave a positive review.
So make sure your customer service reps are avoiding these irritating behaviors!
About the Data: Verint describes its methodology in part as follows:
“The research was commissioned by Verint from 23 June to 20 July 2016 in association with Opinium Research LLP, a UK-based research company. Interviews were conducted amongst 24,001 consumers in the following countries: Australia (2,000), Brazil (2,000), India (2,000), France (2,000), Germany (2,000), Japan (2,000), Mexico (2,000), Netherlands (2,000), New Zealand (2,000), South Africa (2,000), UK (2,001) and US (2,000). The research was conducted online, in the local language for each area and respondents were incentivised to participate.”