About 70% consumers surveyed about their customer service preferences said they would rather speak to a human customer service representative than engage with a digital customer service rep or chatbot, the Sitel Group revealed in its 2018 Index Report.
Among those who said they would rather interact with humans, 48% said the biggest reason was they were not confident digital assistants could understand and help with their requests, according to an email sent to Retail Dive about the report.
Sixty-one percent of consumers also said that receiving personalized communication via email, chat and social media from companies they have a business relationship with was important.
Retailers with large-scale service needs are increasingly turning to various forms of automated technology to support customer service operations. When you consider how much money might otherwise be spent on staffing up call centers with humans, it's easy to see why.
Retailers have pushed hard in recent years to develop chatbots and other forms of automation that can handle at least some customer service requests, particularly those originating via social media from mobile phones. But, a large number of consumers still are not comfortable with the notion of talking to a robot, nor do they believe that technology is going to solve their problems.
The Sitel Group study also revealed the biggest pet peeves shoppers have about calling customer service, with 28% of shoppers still preferring a phone call over other forms of communication. Additionally, 38% of those surveyed said they get the most frustrated by having to repeat the same concern to multiple people during a single customer service call. They also don't like waiting on hold.
However, these problems might be less bothersome to consumers if more automation and technology was used within customer service. Bots can quickly record customer complaints and analyze possible responses, in addition to scaling quickly at less expense than human staffers. This, in turn, means more calls can be answered quickly. Although, more bots may not be the answer if consumers don't like interacting with them.
The Sitel Group suggests that the better solution is to have human staffs work in tandem with customer service technologies. The partnership will allow a company to be faster, while soothing customers with the knowledge that they get to explain their gripes to someone who might understand how they feel.