Queues, automated responses and premium rate numbers are adding to many consumers’ sense that the telephone is the most frustrating way they can contact a retailer or other organisation, new research suggests.
Some one in eight consumers would even be happy to pay a fee if it meant improvements to the service when they make a call, the Econsultancy report on multichannel customer service found.
For while one in three of the 2,000 quizzed said the telephone was their preferred channel for customer service, 48% also said it was the most frustrating. Indeed, they said it was three times more frustrating than email and eight times more frustrating than live chat.
Instead, 44% said they preferred to contact a brand by email, and the medium was also voted the second most effective. At the same time, however, this was also voted the second most frustrating, after the phone.
However, retailers fared relatively well in the survey with 47% of the 2,000 quizzed judging that they offered the best level of service. Banks scored 16%, followed by travel (15%) and automotive (10%). Utilities and telecoms lagged further behind.
For digital marketing consultants Econsultancy the dissatisfaction with cutomer service across different channels is evidence that brands are strugging to coordinate channels and by so doing reduce customer frustration.
Among the organisations that were said to provide outstanding levels of customer service were retailers Amazon and Tesco, along with telecoms companies BT and Virgin.
Warren Buckley, managing director of customer services at BT, said: “Customer service is an area wehre businesses, in a competitive marketplace, can really stand out and differentiate themselves. This research shows that while many are stil lagging behind there is a growing number of savvy companies that, instead of viewing customer service as a cost centre, see it as a way for them to excel and increase brand loyalty.”
Buckley is among the speakers at JUMP, Econsultancy’s annual event focusing on online and offline marketing. His session - titled ‘customer service in the social age’ - draws upon his belief that a commitment to customer satisfaction can increase customer retention rates.
The event takes place on October 12 at Old Billingsgate, London and speakers also hail from organisations including the BBC, NET-A-PORTER, and Kiddicare.