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Customer Service Channel Preference Study 2021

During the first week of January 2021 Rayon AI conducted a survey of 2,400 consumers to understand how they feel about customer service delivered through various channels by humans, automated services and by conversational Artificial Intelligence.

It’s clear that customer service provided by phone is the most favored channel with 52% of responders in the survey rating it as “usually enjoyable and helpful”. And when added to “Works ok and sometimes helpful” found favor with 85% of responders.

Interestingly in aggregate chatbots with 37.24% and 45.69% respectively, was close behind phone as the second most favored customer service channel with 82% of responders favoring this channel.

When asked how responders felt when they encountered the following everyday issues while seeking customer service, we were surprised that 57% of responders found incompetent support agents to be a major issue, closely followed by incompetent chatbots a close second with 50% of responders finding this a major issue.

It comes as no surprise that long call wait times and callers having to repeat themselves were also major issues for almost half of responders (49%) each.

When asked about experiences with first generation customer service automation in the form of chatbots, automated emails and voice IVR systems (In a few words tell me what you’re calling about?) it was obvious there is frustration with services that don’t work but consumers have come to accept engagements with automated services.

When dealing with automated services virtual agent phone services and email were well received finding favor with 62% and 60% of responders. Automated chatbots were least favored due to low confidence that they can successfully resolve issues.

When asked about AI-based automated services Phone and Email remained the most favored channels both with 71% of responders expecting these channels to be usually helpful or sometimes helpful. However responders placed messaging (SMS, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat etc.) as the the most favored channel with 32% of responders expecting this channel to be usually helpful and most convenient.

There seems little resistance to the use of new channels for customer service. When asked about the likelihood of using messaging for support 52% of responders stated they would definitely use this channel and 42% would give it a try and only 6% responding they would not use the channel.

In summary based on the survey results and responders comments we can see that consumer attitudes towards automated customer services are changing. They expect automations to work and get frustrated with those that do not. Overall it seems that consumers will engage with offered channels for support but prefer phone and email over other channels. However it’s worth noting that messaging offers convenience and a mode that consumers are expecting will provide a popular channel that can be successfully used for customer service. The next generation of chatbots are also expected to be more helpful when delivering services that go beyond the current status quo.

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