Customer service is the consumer-facing aspect of a business and it can make or break a brand. Details surrounding customer preferences in terms of communication channels, customer pain points, and best practices to improve customer service have been provided below.
- In the US, 16% of customers prefer email to reach out to customer service, 23% prefer live chat, 6% prefer online self-service, 4% prefer social media, 44% prefer phone or other voice-supported channels, 4% prefer text messaging, while 4% are unsure.
- Consumer preferences can change depending on their requirements and/or the situation they are facing/trying to resolve through customer service.
- When it comes to general issues, 31% of customers preferred using the phone as opposed to chat, which was the preference of 29%. Email, however, is also not too far behind and falls in at 24%.
- When facing urgent issues, phone was the go-to option for most (70%) customers, while 19% and 6% preferred chat and email respectively.
- In terms of ease of use, 53% voted for phone, while 59%, 50%, 16%, 12%, and 8% voted for chat, email, FAQs, text messaging, and social media respectively.
- When asked about the effectiveness of various customer service channels, 58% found phone to be the most effective while 23% said chat and 11% said email was most effective.
- 91% of customers preferred brands to adopt multichannel offerings for customer service.
Why Customers Prefer Phone in Certain Situations
- Customers believe that digital customer service channels, e.g. chat, have a long way to go, in terms of improvement, before they can be preferred in certain situations.
- As many as two-thirds of customers look forward to digital channels becoming “faster, more intuitive and better able”.
- In many cases, the human element is also why 83% of customers rate phone/in-store experiences higher than digital channels.
Improvement in Digital Channels
- Although there is a lot of evidence that suggests digital channels may not be customers’ preference right now, a Gartner study showed that “85% of customer interactions will be non-human by 2020.” This suggests that digital channels might be improving, hence the projected increase in adoption rate.
- According to a 2018 study by BI Intelligence from Aspect Software, “interactions with customer service via legacy channels like email and phone have fallen in the US by 7% in the last two years.”
- Preferences also vary by generation. 52% of millennials look forward to using automated channels to resolve their customer service issues as opposed to 33% of the overall customer preference.
1. Waiting on Call
- Waiting in the queue on a phone call is one of the leading problems that US consumers face.
- Although all consumers despise waiting to be served on a call, 60% of Gen Z consumers are more likely than other age groups to hang up on a call that isn’t answered in 45 seconds or less.
- 9% of customers get frustrated when they have to keep waiting on hold.
2. Unanswered Queries
- Companies have to face certain situations where they may not have a concrete answer and there’s nothing wrong with it, it happens. However, this is something that customers do not look forward to.
- Unsure answers from customer service can irritate customers. According to a study, 55% of consumers have in the past canceled orders due to such experiences.
3. Call Transfer
- Customers dread automated responses, e.g. “Your call is vital to us. Please hold while we connect you.”
- 18% of customers get frustrated when they are unable to reach a live person.
- There are other situations where human representatives have to transfer the customers to another department and they tell the customer to wait while they connect them. This comes off as the representative does not have a solution to the customer’s problem even if that is not the case. But whatever the case, customers still think that they are just going to get passed around without eventually meeting a solution.
- 22% of customers get frustrated when they keep getting passed between representatives.
- According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, other issues that irritate customers when communicating with customer service include unavailability of human representatives (75%), representative being rude (75%), disconnections (74%), being disconnected and not being able to reach the same representative again (71%), and being transferred to a representative who is unable to help (70%).
- A list of other issues can be found here.
1. Social Media Response Times
- Customers expect brands to resolve their issues fast. When they reach out to customer service via social media, 15% expect a response within the first hour, 46% expect a response within 24 hours, 14% expect a response in 48 hours, while 25% do not expect a response.
- In contrast to the expected response times, the leading businesses have an average social media response time of 157 minutes.
- Only 8% of businesses respond within the first 30 minutes while 12% never bother to respond.
- Customers also expect a response through social mentions. With low tolerance towards issues, customers want instant resolutions to their problems.
- Twitter is the go-to platform for many customers along with other platforms when it comes to reaching out to brands for customer service issues. This is the newest way that customers have found to catch a brand’s attention.
- Self-service is becoming more popular and customers expect to find resolutions to their issues themselves.
- Self-serve FAQs, video content, and other documentation help customers serve themselves and find resolutions to their problems.
- 10% of customers rate the ability to find information without help as one of the most important aspects of customer service.
3. Knowing the Quality of Service
- Brands use several ways through which they track their customer’s behavior data and their overall satisfaction with their service. One of those methods is to track customer data and interactions.
- Omnichannel brings a lot of opportunities for brands to optimize their user experience. Brands can retain 89% of customers by optimizing their customer experience across platforms.
- Brands also use self-assessment tools, e.g. joining a live chat to test it out or posting a tweet to test the response time.
- Companies also track their social media performance by using tools like Mention and Google Alerts. Other tools to manage multiple social media accounts, e.g. Hootsuite, are also popular among brands.
To provide relevant results that shed light on customer service, we have used global/online surveys with the assumption that US customers were also part of the survey, which implies that the results from such surveys can be considered inclusive globally as well as for the US.