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Dive Brief:

  • About 79% of 3,000 consumers surveyed by customer engagement and analytics software firm Calabrio said interacting with a human instead of a chatbot or digital self-service channel is an important aspect of receiving good customer service from a business.
  • Also, 74% of those surveyed said they are more loyal to a business that provides them with the option to speak to a human, than those that only support customer service through digital or self-service channels, according to the study.
  • Still, 54% of those surveyed said that they don’t think companies are wasting their money when they invest in new technology intended to improve customer experience. The survey was conducted in May, and involved both U.S. and U.K. consumers.

Dive Insight:

In recent years, retailers and brands have opened up a variety of new channels, including chatbots, live chat and self-service options, through which they can engage with and support their customers. For the most part, that’s a good thing, giving customers more ways to reach their favorite brands, and giving these companies more opportunities to provide their customers with positive experiences.

Given the amount of money and time companies have put into developing or buying these technology tools, some of the results of this survey may come as a disappointment. However, it should be noted that consumers are not saying that these new customer service technologies are a complete waste, or that they only want to engage with humans.

Companies may not need to re-think their investments in these types of technologies more so than aiming to achieve a balance of technology and human touch. Perhaps more important, they need to make sure they give customers some control and the ability to switch modes from digital to human at whatever point they wish.

If companies fail to give their customers options and expect them simply to plug into a digital engagement option, they should expect to pay the price. About 43% of those surveyed in this case said they would think about taking their business to a competitor if they were not given the option to speak with a human.

Some consumers will likely always want to speak one-on-one with a human representative. That’s how they expect to do business and resolve problems, and retailers and brands shouldn’t try too hard to discourage that reality. As the survey found, 24% of respondents actually do think companies are wasting their money investing in automated or digital customer service technologies. The reason they gave is that they “will always” want to speak to a human to resolve any issues they have. Retailers no doubt will keep investing in technology for the majority who prefer it, but shouldn’t forget about those who don’t.