Customer Service

This is what 38% of Americans would rather do than deal with customer service

Nearly as many would prefer to plunge a toilet or burn their mouths on hot coffee, according to a poll
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· 3 min read

“Thank you for calling Retail Brew. Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received. Your estimated wait time is 17 minutes.”

Doubtless, you’ve heard these words before and, if a new survey is any indication, they are not having a narcotic effect on you.

The survey, by Interactions, a conversational AI software company that focuses on customer service, asked consumers what activities they’d prefer to contacting customer service:

  • 38% would rather get a cavity filled.
  • 35% would rather assemble an IKEA dresser.
  • 28% would rather burn their mouths on hot coffee.

The survey, conducted by Cint, polled 1,000 consumers online in the US in March.

Swearing at robots: “We believe that customer service is at a two-decade low with satisfaction,” Peter Mullen, CMO of Interactions, told Retail Brew.

And he said the stakes are high for companies to right the ship.

“Over the next decade, customer experience will become one of the top predictors of annual recurring revenue for enterprises across the world,” Mullen said. “We are at a fork in the road right now, where companies are making decisions about what the customer experience is going to be like for the next decade.”

In the meantime, many consumers are seething, reporting that in the last year:

  • 48% became angry while communicating with customer service.
  • 38% hung up on customer service.
  • 33% raised their voice and/or swore on a customer service call.

“And that,” Mullen noted, “includes swearing at robots.”

Choke hold: We want to be held, but we don’t want to be on hold. Asked what drove them crazy about the customer experience, it topped the list:

  • 77% said waiting a long time on hold drove them crazy.
  • 60% said it was being transferred multiple times.
  • 47% said it was having to repeat themselves to automated systems that couldn’t understand them.
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Mullen said none of those challenges that consumers are blowing a gasket over are insurmountable.

The hold time is dealt with simply enough by offering to have an agent call back when they’re free, an option that “most of the brands” that Interaction works with chooses, Mullen said.

With transfers, Mullen said it’s often not just the transfers themselves that are irritating, but having “to start over and explain your problem” every time you’re handed off. To resolve this, he said, it’s important to design an automated system that ideally will solve an issue without an agent, but, if not, will be intuitive and intelligent enough to park consumers with the right agent.

Finally, with automated systems understanding consumers, Mullen said AI and voice recognition have come a long way, but the challenge is more complicated than many realize.

For instance, he said, “there are several thousands of ways to say ‘yes’, and…how you might say it for a retailer is different than how you might say it for financial services.”

If so many ways to answer in the affirmative are hard to fathom, he provided an example.

“‘Yo bro, you got it,’” Mullen said. “That could conceivably be something that we can understand because we have programmed it in.”

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