A latest study by Accenture revealed that human interaction remains a vital component of customer satisfaction, even in the ‘digital age’.
In this study, 2,003 U.S. consumers were included and it found that U.S. companies are losing customers as consumers demand more human interaction.
The study found that 83 percent of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues.
The report also found that 52 percent of consumers have switched provider in the past year due to poor customer service, with banks, retailers, and cable and satellite television providers being the worst offenders.
In the U.S., the estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service is $1.6 trillion.
“Companies have lost sight of the importance of human interaction and often make it too difficult for consumers to get the right level of help and service that they need,” said Robert Wollan, senior managing director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy.
According to Wollan, companies wrongly assume that their digital-only customers are their most profitable, and that customer service is a cost.
Consequently, they over-invest in digital technologies and channels and lose their most profitable customers – multi-channel customers – who want experiences that cover both digital and traditional channels.
The importance of human connection in customer services
Human interaction makes consumers more convinced than digital interaction. The study found that better level of service even makes consumers pay higher price for goods and services.
Physical or in-store experiences are also highly valued amongst consumers. 65 percent agree that in-store service is the best channel for getting a tailored experience, and 46 percent say they are more willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving a face-to-face service compared to online.
“U.S. companies have reached a tipping point in their customer’s digital intensity and need to rebalance their digital and traditional customer services investments if they want to improve loyalty, differentiate themselves and drive growth,” said Kevin Quiring, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, North America Lead, Accenture Strategy.
“Companies abandon the human connection at their own risk and are facing the need to rebuild it to deliver the varied and tailored outcomes that customers demand.”
Accenture says there is a huge room for improvement in the delivery of today’s customer services. 81 percent of consumers admit that it is frustrating dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them.
Another 73 percent expect customer service to be easier and more convenient, and 61 percent want it to be faster. Complaining on social media about poor customer experience is the norm for 44 percent of consumers who admit taking to social channels in order to vent.
Once a provider loses a customer, 68 percent of consumers will not go back. But there are measures companies can take to hold on to them.
80 percent of ‘switchers’ feel the company could have done something to retain them. 83 percent report that if companies could provide customers with better live or in-person customer service, it would have impacted their decision to switch provider.
How can leaders of customer services succeed
Accenture suggests service providers must rethink their investment strategy to deliver satisfying customer experiences.
They should make it easy for customers to switch channels to get the experiences they want, while defining and addressing the most toxic customer experiences across all channels.
Last, but not least, Accenture suggests that customers should be guaranteed with personal data security.