New study from Sitel reveals a need for speed in customer service

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More consumers are choosing chat and social media over email and phone for a rapid response.

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The customer service landscape is changing every day. The modern contact centre is being reinvented to meet consumers’ expectations for a rapid response when and where they demand it.

A new study commissioned by Sitel, a leading customer care outsourcing provider, has revealed that consumers are increasingly selecting customer service channels that provide the fastest response, such as chat and social media, when they need support. The second annual Social Media Customer Service Report, which surveyed more than 1000 consumers in Great Britain between the ages of 16 – 64, underscores the need for organisations to provide a fast and varied range of customer care services for the diverse demands of today’s consumer.

There has been a noticeable increase in demand for an instant response to customer service queries. In a year on year comparison, 6% more consumers selected chat when asked about their preferred method of interacting with customer service. Chat was particularly popular among the affluent, with preference for chat among earners over £60,900 nearly doubling in the past year (18% to 34% year on year). During the same period, preference for email dropped 3% and phone support dropped one per cent. As further evidence of this trend, more than a quarter (26%) of consumers aged 16-24 stated that companies could improve their customer service experience if they responded quickly to questions on Twitter, up 9% from 2011.

In 2012 the gap closed between the way men and women respond to problems with products. Last year’s study found that men were significantly more likely than women to search for a solution online as a first step (61% versus 53%), while women were significantly more likely than men to contact the manufacturer or retailer directly for help first (39% versus 30%). This year, the percentage of women searching for a solution online as a first step increased by 5% and contacting a manufacturer or retailer as a first step dropped by 8%.

“The customer service landscape is changing every day. To meet consumers’ expectations for a rapid response when and where they demand it, businesses must be prepared to provide customer support across a number of different channels, including chat, SMS and social media and not just the more traditional methods of phone and email,” said Joe Doyle, Vice President of Global Marketing, Sitel. “As a result, the modern contact centre is being reinvented to support these demands. With expertise in customer care and granular product knowledge, an organisation’s customer care provider is well-placed to provide customer service on social media channels and to create the digital content needed to proactively address consumers’ needs in videos, on blogs and in forums.”

About Sitel

Sitel is a world leader in outsourced customer care services. With over 26 years of industry experience, Sitel has twice been ranked as the top overall call centre outsourcing provider in Datamonitor’s annual Black Book of Outsourcing survey. Sitel’s 57,000 employees provide clients with predictable and measurable Return on their Customer Investment by building customer loyalty, increasing sales and improving efficiency. Sitel’s solutions span 120+ domestic, nearshore, and offshore centres in 25 countries across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific. Sitel is privately held and majority owned by Canadian diversified company, Onex Corporation. For more information, please visit

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Annie Barker
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