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Customers prefer to read FAQs than talk to real people

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Call centre phone queues, not being able to find information on a company’s website and waiting for email replies are the biggest customer service frustrations amongst British consumers using retail websites, according to a new survey undertaken by YouGov for customer interaction specialist nGenera CIM.

Key findings include:

  • 94% of British people using online retail websites say customer service is important or very important when conducting transactions

  • 96% would stop using a company immediately, or look for an alternative, if they received poor customer service

  • Contacting a company by email is the preferred method of communication

The survey found that waiting in a call centre queue is considered the biggest frustration, with 66% of respondents finding this annoying. The researchers also uncovered the preferred methods of seeking assistance when on a website, with email topping the list (37%), followed by using the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section (23%). Less than one in five (18%) people opt to call the customer services team.

Not surprisingly, there were some wide differences of opinion between the 18-24 and 45+ age groups. As many as 61% of older web users would turn to email or the phone for help, compared to just 44% of 18-24 year-olds. Respondents in the younger range were more inclined to contact a company through online chat, with just over a fifth saying this was their preferred method and 22% trying the website’s FAQs. Older website visitors prefer more traditional contact methods, with only 10% of over 55s turning to chat and 46% choosing to send a company an email, compared to 30% of 18-24 year-olds.

Commenting on the survey results, nGenera CIM’s Matthew Haines says “It is clear from the research that the customer service landscape is changing.”

“Online channels such as email, web self-service and live chats are quickly overtaking phone as the preferred contact method for UK consumers,” Haines explains. “By establishing these channels, businesses can reduce strain on the call centre, increase agent productivity, reduce costs and ensure consistency and accuracy of messages.”

A report detailing the survey’s findings, The Rise of Online Customer Service, can be downloaded free of charge from nGenera CIM’s website.

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