M Sutherland

Calls May Be Declining But Most Customers Still Prefer The Phone

Our own Praxidia research has shown for a long time that voice calls using a telephone are still the preferred channel for customers to reach a customer service advisor. Despite the growth of social networks, chat, and other new channels we tend to find that around half of all customers continue to want to make a call. 

This is backed up by new research just published in the US. This data is based on the preferences of 1,138 American consumers and just like in the Praxidia research they found that 54% of the consumers they questioned still prefer a voice call as the first choice for accessing customer service. 21% said they would prefer to use online chat or a social network.

There are a couple of interesting observations here and though the data makes some of these points obvious, they are worth repeating because there is often a disconnect between what ‘experts’ tell us and what can really be observed by crunching the data and just asking customers what they want.

  1. Phone use is steadily in decline, but with around half of all customers still choosing it as their number one customer service option your voice contact centre is still critical.
  2. Demographics don’t really matter. Even though you will find social network use higher amongst younger customers those same customers are still expressing a preference for the phone as their primary customer service channel.
  3. Chat is growing in importance. In this US survey over a fifth of customers expressed a preference for chat or a social channel. If you are not already supporting click to chat then you could be missing out on interactions with a lot of customers.
  4. Resolution is important. In this survey, customers wanted their problem fixed inside 15 minutes. This varies depending on the channel, but this is often why people use the phone rather than a social network like Twitter. They know that once an agent answers the call then someone is working on the problem – rather than waiting for resolution at some unspecified time in the future.
  5. Service quality really matters. 45% of customers in this research said they would choose another brand if they received a poor level of customer service and 31% said it’s likely they would do so. That’s over three-quarters of customers expressing a view that they will take their money elsewhere if your customer service team doesn’t meet their expectations.

It’s important for brands to answer customer service questions wherever customers ask. This has led to the requirement for brands to be constantly scanning social channels to catch mentions of the company and products, but it cannot be ignored that the majority of customers still want to just pick up the phone and get the problem fixed immediately.

Photo by M Sutherland licensed under Creative Commons.