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Shoppers opt for speed when calling on customer support: study

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More shoppers getting in touch with customer support are now doing so through the channels that will get them the fastest response, a new survey has found. The number of people opting to use chat and social media has risen, while those submitting email enquiries has fallen, according to the research.

Sitel’s second annual Social Media Customer Service Report surveyed more than 1,000 UK consumers aged between 16 and 64. It asked them to name their preferred method of getting in touch with customer service, and found that 6% more cited chat than at the same time last year. Among high earners taking home more than £60,900 a year, 34% said their preference was for chat, nearly double the 18% who opted for this channel a year earlier. The proportion that favoured email dropped by 3% and those who wanted to make a call by phone was down by one per cent.

More than a quarter (26%) of consumers aged 16-24 said companies could improve their customer service by responding quickly to questions on Twitter. The figure was up by 9% compared to the same time last year.

The difference in how men and women respond to product problems narrowed. 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,” said Joe Doyle, vice president, global marketing, Sitel. “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.”

That means, he said, that the contact centre was now 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,” he said.

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