STUDY: Over Half of Customers Prefer Speaking with Human Customer Service Agents via Phone

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Usabilla study finds customers crave human interaction, but are comfortable using chatbots and AI for more seamless interactions

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While our research finds that consumers across generations are open-minded about using tech like chatbots and AI, they still trust humans when it comes to solving complex problems or dealing with sensitive information, such as filling a prescription or making a bank deposit.

Despite 55 percent of customers preferring to speak with human customer service agents over the phone, 70 percent report using chatbots and 60 percent of those who haven’t said they would feel comfortable doing so, according to a study released today by Usabilla, the global Voice of Customer (VoC) technology provider.

The report finds overall customer satisfaction with the level of automation brands currently offer, with 66 percent responding in the affirmative when asked if brands were creating enough opportunities to eliminate human interaction, according to Usabilla’s 2018 report, “In the Age of Automation, Customers Want More Human, Less Machine.”

Overall, the report underlines the importance of convenience when it comes to choosing automation over human interaction. When faced with the dreaded phone-tree, 73 percent of shoppers skip the robo-call, often pressing “0” to reach a human first, and over half (54 percent) said they would always choose a chatbot over a human customer service rep if it saved them 10 minutes.

When it comes to new and emerging technologies, 52 percent of shoppers report positive feelings toward tech development as it relates to AI, and less than 1 percent of respondents reported they’d choose a human representative over a chatbot because they are “creeped out” by chatbots. Yet only about a third (36 percent) report that they’d prefer to use a chatbot over speaking with a person when they have a simple request, question or issue, indicating that brands must work to balance tech-enabled automation with human interaction.

“Today’s consumer is engaging with brands across a variety of touchpoints, and they crave simplicity and convenience in these experiences, meaning it’s more critical than ever to strike the right balance between automation and high-touch human interaction,” said Katie Hickey, Marketing Manager at Usabilla. “That said, robots won’t and shouldn’t be taking over customer interactions. While our research finds that consumers across generations are open-minded about using tech like chatbots and AI, they still trust humans when it comes to solving complex problems or dealing with sensitive information, such as filling a prescription or making a bank deposit.”

With 82 percent of consumers reporting that just one poor experience with a brand will decrease the likelihood that they will recommend the brand to others, delivering a seamless customer experience is key. The report further illuminates the role automation plays across industries:

  • Eighty-three percent of bank customers expect to be able to check account balances without human assistance.
  • More than half (51 percent) of healthcare customers expect to be able to schedule or reschedule appointments on their own.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of travel customers expect to be able to book or reschedule flights without human interaction.
  • Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of retail customers expect to be able to change or cancel orders using automated systems.

Usabilla’s 2018 report is based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18 to 72, who have used any customer service options (e.g. FAQ section, chatbot, automated options) that allowed them to completely avoid human interaction for a given customer service issue.

To learn about the modern customer’s preferences for brand interactions and to glean insights into optimizing the customer experience, download the full report here.

About Usabilla
Usabilla, a globally trusted customer and employee listening platform, was founded with the belief that continuous user feedback is the key to any successful website, product or service. Its services helps brands to improve the performance of their websites, apps and emails with live user feedback. Over 20,000 clients worldwide use Usabilla’s Voice of Customer solutions to improve user experience, increase conversions and boost customer satisfaction. For more information, visit http://www.usabilla.com.

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Lucas Strombeck
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